By Stephen Ubanna
For the past one year, Comptroller Wada and his officers were said to have given the Bandits and smugglers, operating between Katsina, home state of President Muhammadu Buhari and Niger Republic, tougher time. They were said to have made the official and and unofficial Land border areas in the state too hot for the criminal elements to operate forcing scores of them to abandon the illegitimate trade and embrace genuine business to pay import duties, with the reopening of the Jibia border.
The former Katsina Command Customs Command, Area Controller, had made life uncomfortable for the smugglers, particular, that their sponsors were said to have reached out to their contacts who are well connected to Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, to facilitate the deployment of the Customs Comptroller,, described as a torn in their flesh. The Customs Comptroller General, may have ignored pressure on him from several quarters to redeploy the Katsina Command helmsman, but waited for an opportunity to do so.
The opportunity came mid -anuary 2023, when 62 Comptrollers, both old and new, were redeployed which was said to have affected him as he was taken to Port Harcourt Area I, Command, while Compt. Musa Nurudeen, who is determined to continue from where his predecessor had stopped to make the sate too hot for the Bandits and Smugglers, replaced him.
Informed sources told The Value News that when information filtered out that Compt. Wada, was among the 62, Comptrollers, that were affected in the in the recent shake up in the service, residents of the border Communities who are mostly smugglers, were said to have heaved a sigh of relief.They may have seen his redeployment to PortHarcourt Area I, as an opportunity to return into full scale smuggling without restraint.
Recall that the Katsina state born Nigerian President, had reopened the Jibia Magama Border Station last April, amidst optimism that other closed Land borders in the state would also be reopened.Comptroller Wada had said since the re-opening of the Jibia Land border, the Command has continued to generate good revenue for the government.The Command was said to have generated a total sum of N935,306,275.39 from the genuine traders as many of the Smugglers were said to have turned a new leaf to engage in Legitimate trade and in order to pay their duties .
He had said that the amount generated by the Command in the 2022, Fiscal year, was about N61 million more than the Revenue Target set for the Command in the year 2022, by the Customs Authorities.
In the area of Export Trade, the Command was said to have recorded a Free-On-Board, FOB, value of 4,426,105,643.0 for non-oil commodities with 69,436.77 Metric tons exported through Jibia Magma Border Station.
Recall that the Nigerian President had in January 17, 2017, banned the importation of vehicles and foreign rice into the country through the Land border. Perhaps, one area, Comptroller Wada and his anti-smuggling officers had shown toughness was in its anti-smuggling operations. Despite making spectacular Contraband seizures, the Command was also able to make 379 Arrests, the highest to be made by any Customs Interventionist Command, in the recent time.
Out of the 379 arrests, for contravention of government Fiscal policy, 258 cases , according he Customs Comptroller had a Duty Paid Value, DPV, of about N145 million,while remaining were said to have been converted to outright seizures after thorough investigations.
The Customs boss was said to have also provided the Command 13 brand new operational vehicles, Arms and Ammunitions. It was not surprising why the Command Patrol Team officers could enter into difficult terrains to dispossess of the smugglers of the smuggled vehicles and other Contraband goods.
The seized items, according to the Customs boss, included, Foreign rice, Foreign Vegetable Oil, Foreign Spaghetti Noodle, and Tiger Nuts, among others worth about N44.26 million and their various means of conveyance ,Cars, Buses, Trucks, and Motorcycles.
The Command was said to have intercepted 11 duly registered vehicles worth about N25 million One of such exotic intercepted used vehicles was a used Land Cruser Jeep, with Registration No. GML70 XB. Valued at about N8.1 million.
Another of such exotic vehicle was a Mitsubishi Hilux, which had a DPV, ofN7.425 million. This is in addition to used Toyota RAVA Jeep, with a DPV of N4.320 million. The last but not the least of such intercepted exotic vehicles was a J5. With registration number DMS 98XA, valued at about .N2 million.
There is no gain saying the fact that the Command had arrested 10 suspects in the course of its anti-smuggling operations in the state. Some of the suspects were said to have been prosecuted at the Federal High Court in the state while some were granted administrative bail.
The Katsina Command, former Customs helmsman,had noted that the successes achieved by the Command in the 2022, Fiscal year, could not have been possible without ‘’the vigorous efforts and resilience of the Officers and Men of the Command and other layers of Customs formations who were said to have been giving the Bandits and smugglers sleepless night as well as the support and Cooperation of the people.
Indeed, despite the overwhelming successes recorded by the Command in the year 2022, the Command was said to have lost two of its officers in the course of discharging their assigned responsibilities in the state.
The antagonism of smugglers to officers in the state may have informed why the Katsina Command Customs Comptroller, had requested from the Customs Comptroller General provision for more officers Accommodation to forestall any officer living in smuggler’s house.The Customs boss was said to have approved the demand and contract awarded for the for it. Until his redeployment to Port Harcourt Area I, some of the officers were said to have been completed and allocated.
Aware that there is no way his Comptroller, Nurudeen, will succeed, without the the people, may have informed why he has called for ‘’sustainable cooperation and supports from the general public to help in the security of the Land Borders and facilitation of legitimate trans-border trade I in the state.