By Stephen Ubanna
smugglers carrying out their nefarious activities in Ogun, home state of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and exporters both individuals and Corporate bodies appears to be jittery over the deployment of DC.Ahmadu Shuaibu, a former Area Controller of Ogun II, saddled with the responsibility of enforcing and regulating all excise factories under excise control, Free Trade zone and Parcel post related activities in the state to Ogun I, to replace Compt. Bamidele Makinde, the former Area Controller who has been recalled to the Customs Headquarters.
This is because of his antecedents at the defunct Comptroller General of Customs, CGC, Strike Force,Team A, Lagos Zonal office where he was said to have made life for Smugglers of Unpropressed wood, Pangolin Scales, Pangolin Claws and Elephant Tusks, Agricultural rice produced from the Asian country of India and par boiled rice produced from Thailand, another Asian country and the North American country pf Vietnam and other Contraband smugglers uncomfortable.
A close associate told The Value News that DC’s Shuaibu could achieveall that great feat within the little over one year he had headed the Interventionist Team. he was said to have positioned the Team anti-smuggling officers at strategic locations in the border Communities in the border states of Ogun, Oyo and Lagos states particular.
The then, Lagos Zonal CGC Strike Force Patrol Team officers were said to be all over the other south western states of Osun, Ekiti and Ondo, acting on the instructions of the Customs Coordinator who has information at his fingertips to make spectacular seizures allegedly smuggled into the country from the neighbouring West African country of Benin Republic.
Many were not surprisised that DC. Shuaibu’s led CGC , Strike force Team could achieve that much within the short period with just few officers. He may have been guided by the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, reports that there are 80 Illegal routes used smugglers in the state to draw outplans tocurtail the activities of the smugglers in the region.
Although the NIS,had saidthatthere80 illegal routes used by smugglers inthe Ogun state but Compt. Michael Agbara a former Area Controller of the Ogun I, Command who would not take the Paramilitary security agency report seriously had said that the number of illegal routes used used by the smugglers operating in the state are up to 100 based on his own intelligence gathering.
This may have encouraged DC. thenShuaibu,the CGC Strike Force , Team A, and his Management Team as wellas H theead of the various anti-smuggling units andthoseat the Checkpoints togo back to the drawing Board to restrategise on how to deal with the criminal elements.
A Customs source told The Value News that the battle ground between the Smugglers and the interventionist units in the south west geopolitical region state of Ogun were over the years Ipokia, Ihunbo, Idiroko, Oja-Odan, Ilara, Ilaro, Ayetoro Owode, Imeko -Afon, Ijoun and Ketu Border Communities .
The situation was not different from the rural border Communities between Nigeria and Benin Republic in Iseyin Local government Area of Oyo state and the other border Communities between Nigeria and the neighbouring Benin Republic in the state as the name of the CGC Strike Force,TeamA, invokes ‘’fear in the life of the smugglers who were always losing their smuggled goods worth millions of naira to the DC. Shuaibu’s field officers.
Maritime experts believe that for DC. Shuaibu, the new Area Controller, of Ogun I, to replicate what he did at the defunct CGC Strike Force, Team A, he needs to nurture a new anti-smuggling team that would perform as much as the Strike Force Team A, personnel who were who were said to be fearless in the discharge of their duties and regarded in Customs circles as’’ goal-getters’’.
This is evident going by the spectacular seizures that wassaid to have been made by theCGC Strike Force, Team A, field officers based on information available to the online Magazine rangng from Containers load of donkey hides and skin, unprocessed wood, Pangolin scales, clawsand Elephant Tusks. The seizure of the Pangolin scales, pangolin claws and Elephant Tusks by the Team was said to have checkmated ”the use of the nation as a conduit pipe for illegal wildlife trade’’.
The Former CGC , Strike Force, Team A, Coordinator may have taken the battle to the hide out of the traders because ‘’Nigeria is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Life Fauna and Flora’’.
DC, Shuaibu may have set an anti-smuggling a records at the CGC Strike Force Team A that are yet to be beaten by any other past Coordinator of the Team or any other adhoc Team, including present or past Area Controller of the Federal Operations Units, FOUs, and the Border Drills ,across the country. It was therefore, not very surprising why officers had described” DC. Shuaibu as a an anti-smuggling officer to beat”.
While Contraband smugglers and exporters including excise factory owners in the south west state states of Ogun, Oyo, Lagos, Osun,Ekiti and Ondo, who are not happy that the Leadership DC. Shuaibu at the CGC . Strike Force Team A and as Area Controller Ogun,II, had blocked all areas of revenue leakages for them, fear are being expresed in severalmaritiem quarters that it may longer be business as usual for the smugglers and thefraudulentexporters this time around because of the support ofAdeniyi, the acting CGC,toothe Ogun I,Area Controller.
The formerOgun II, Command had generated N21 billion in the 11 months that DC Shuaibu , had remained as the acting Area Controller. An insider informed the Value News online Magazine that N7, billion of the amount was generated by the Command between October and December , 2022, from the Licenced excise Companies operating in the state and at the Guangodong Free Trade. The balance N14.650 was said to have been generated between January and August 2023.
Compt. Adebisi Alade, the new Area Controller of Ogun II, Command , who is encouraged by the outstanding performance of the Command under DC.Shuaibu, despite the down turn in the global economy, had said that he will ‘’follow the footsteps of his predecessor to achieve greater height by ‘’prioritizing trade facilitation, production, ease of doing business and ease of movement of goods and services’’.
Thereare reports that one major problem which the former Ogun 11, Area Controller had battled to a standstill in the tate was the high level of export irregularities . This may not be unconnected to the fact that the excise factories operating in the country’s Free Trade ones, FTZ, were exempted from payment of tax, and do not have import and export Licenses to operate in the Area and to export . The Ogun I, new Area Controller, who according to insiders is already aware of these export irregularities in Ogun state may be forced to beam his search light on the exporters” to stop the mess’’.
Indeed,for the Exporters doing their business in the south west state to avoid playing into the hands of DC. Shuaibu’s field officers, they have ‘’to be compliant with the country’s extant export laws and make the correct declaration’’. The nonsense defunct CGC , Strike Force Team A, NCS, Ogun I, Area Controller, would want to do everything within his powers ‘’to sustain the Command tmpo ‘’in enforcing export compliance’’ in the state and this may not be good news tothe exporters.
It is on record that when information filtered out that DC Shaibu has been redeployed from Ogun II to Ogun I, by Adeniyi, the Customs acting Comptroller General, the CommandDC, Enforcement, at the instance of Compt. Makinde , the immediate past Area Controller was said to have tightened up security at the Idiroko axis and other border Communities in the state to- forestall the smuggling of Contraband , particular, foreign rice and Vehicles that had been banned by the former Administrations of President Muhammmadu Buhari from coming into the country from the Land border Areas since January 1, 2017 as well as curtail export irregularities.
Acting Customs Comptroller General may have given a clue to the Ogun I, Area Controller and other interventionist units on one major area of smuggling activities that needed to be tackled urgently in the suchas the smuggling of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular, petrol , across the country’s land border Areas.
The ustoms boss was emphatic that that ’’information at his disposal shows that ” there is an increase in the smuggling of Petrol , across the nation’s porous land borders that needed to be ‘’curtailed to safeguard the country’’ . This may have informed why he has urged the Interventionist Units officers across the country , ‘’to ensure effective policing of the nation’s border areas” .
He may have sent a message to the VIP petrol and other Contraband smugglers , across the borders between Nigeria and the West African countries of Benin Republic, Niger, Chad and the Central African country of Cameroun that they are being ‘’watched and if caught will not be spared’’.
Those who knows much of the Ogun I, Customs Area Controller anti-smuggling activities over the last five years had said that he will definitely follow the foot steps of Mohammed Bello Jibo, a former Comptroller, Seme Command and now an Assistant Comptroller General of Customs and Coordinator, Lagos Zonal office, overseeing 17 Area Commands, in the South western region, to give the VIP , petrol smugglers a battle of their life in the state.
Some retired anti-smuggling senior officers who had worked at most of the Land bordr Areas in the country had said that said that he may have to go a step further ”to block all the illegal routes used the smugglers in the state to further make things difficult for them and change thebad name of the state as the home state of smugglers to a ‘’no go area for the criminal elements and their collaborators’’ .