A man, who identified himself as Adeniyi only, has explained how some officials of the Nigeria Customs Service in Efosa, a town along Ore-Benin Expressway, extort and harass car dealers and owners of fairly used vehicles.
The man also accused personnel of the Nigerian Army of conniving with the customs officials to extort members of the public along the axis.
He asked the Nigerian Government, Inspector-General of Police, Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service and the National Assembly to investigate the matter and help stop the daily harassment of motorists by the law enforcement officials.
He said, “When corruption becomes open and robbery becomes legal, then a country is in a big mess. When drivers pass Ore heading towards Benin, at the army check-point directly opposite Levant Quarry at Efosa, you will see Nigeria Customs truck parked by the road side. The army guys there help customs officers stop motorists, a kind of joint venture between them.
“At that point, any car model between 2010-2012 is charged a minimum of 100,000 per car, 300,000 for car between 2013-2015 and minimum of 500,000 for 2015 and above. If you cannot afford the charges stated above at the army check-point, you are then moved to an uncompleted filling station about 10km from there opposite a particular eatery to meet their superior.
“When the customs officer that drives the car parks your vehicle, he then hands over the car key to another officer known to be merciless. That is where the car owner's hell starts from. The officer will do his calculation and then claim that there was underpayment, from there he will bring a form asking you to sign for balance of the underpayment or claiming N1m and above depending on the year of the car.
“After much frustration, intimidation and delay, you are forced to part with valuable sum of money in the range of amount stated above,” he said.
Explaining the method of payment, Adeniyi said the customs officials have standby motorcycle ridere on the ground, who take those whose vehicles are seized to a PoS point as they won’t accept transfer or bank cheque.
“No transfer or bank cheque is allowed. Standby motorcycle ridere are on ground. In my case the guy carried me from the uncompleted filling station to PoS point which is about 5km away towards Ore at a place called Akinjagunla.
“I insisted I was not going to pay any money because the car was certified okay and cleared from Lagos, but at a point when it was getting to 7:00pm and I was the only person left with them, their leader began to threaten me and even pulled up his T-shirt up for me to see his pistol.
"When I wanted to leave for Ore to look for a place to sleep, he warned me not to move out of the filling station vicinity. At that point, I felt it wont be wise to continue standing my ground with them till dark hour, so I was assigned a motorcycle rider who took me to a PoS point.
“When I made some enquiry from the Hausa boy in charge of the PoS, he told me that he makes transactions for the customs officials running into several millions of naira daily. He said he only confided in me because I was from the North.
“In order for the customs officials not to be noticed, they dont stop, delay or return any trailer/truck carrying container to the uncompleted filling station. This is a deliberate ploy to avoid peoples' attention. They also don't wear uniform to avoid being noticed as I suspect that they are on illegal duty there,” he added.