Customs: Compt. Omale, Moves To Improve Trade,  Monthly  Revenue  In Sokoto/Zamfara Command

By Stephen Ubanna

Comptroleer Musa Omale,  who prior to his deployment  to  Sokoto /Zamfara Command , by Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel, and former Comptroller General , Nigeria Customs Service, NCS., appears to have turned the –one time  smugglers haven into a revenue generating Command.

  Past Area Controllers of the Command may have found it difficult to control the activities because of the over 100 illegal border routes around the Illela border Community between Nigeria and Republic of Nigeria  and its environs   used by the criminal elements  to bring  in Contraband, particucular, foreign rice,  fairly used vehicles and other prohibited transit cargoes  imported through   the Autonomous port of Benin, Cotonou , Benin Republic.

But  the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, under the close watch of  Adepoju Carol Wura-Ola,                     may have  worsened matters when it said  that there are  over 1000  regular routes used by the unrepentant smugglers  to bring Contraband  prhited by the past  Nigerian government from being exported  into the country,  noting most of the inappropriate routes  are scattered in the northern western states of Sokoto, Zamfara,  Kebbi and  Katsina, former President  Muhammadu Buhari  home state.

The former Katsina state born Nigerian President had banned the importation of foreign rice and fairly used vehicles into the country through the country’s Land borders on January I, 2017, but the items were freely smuggled into the country from the porous border routes between Nigeria and Niger in these northern states, with the Customs anti-smuggling officers making effort to stop them but to no avail.

Compt.Omale Omale And Others

The Soko/Zamfara , Customs Area Controller may have known that there is no way he can contain the activities of the smugglers in the two states  without  blocking the illegal routes, he has no option but to carry the along  with him, including the Border Communities Leaders  by telling them  about the dangers of smuggling to the economy and the need to embrace genuine trade and pay the relevant duties to avoid playing into Customs personnel’s hand and lose such smuggled  cargoes and  to government .  The message may have gotten to the people when he declared that any person caught in the art would be prosecuted and if found guilty would go to jail.

Aware that the Nigerian smugglers are working closely with the Nigerien  Collaborators may have informed why the Customs Comptroller had gone a step further   to reach out to one Col,. Muhammed Bshir, overseeing the country’s Customs Birnin Akwanni Border, near to the Illela Border Community on the side of Nigeria.      

The duo and some Paramount Rulers from the Nigerien Border were said to have met last February where they were said to have agreed to chart a way forward in tackling the activities of the smugglers operating between the two countries. They were said to also agreed at the February meeting on the need for Customs personnel from the two neighbouring  West African countries  ‘’collaborate  with each other  in trade facilitation  and sharing of intelligence  to be able to contain the activities of  smugglers and ensure a safe Border trade.

Giving the promise made by the Nigerien  Customs Chief  at the Birnin Akwanni Border,  and the Paramount Rulers around the Community and other villages around the Border Communities to support  Compt. Omale and his men by giving out  information  that help them   in carrying out their anti-smuggling operations  appears to be doing the trick. This is evident going by the continued increase of the Command’s revenue generation over the last five months.   Abdullahi Tsafe Abubakar, a Deputy Superintendent of Customs  and the Command spokesperson  may have hit the nail on the head when he  disclosed that ‘’since  is assumption of duties early  this year, the Customs Comptroller  has continued to bring up  strategies  in line with  World Customs best practices  that has aided  ease of doing business, trade facilitation  and reduction of clearing cargo time  at the Illela Border and increase in the Command revenue generation.

The Sokoto/Zamfara  , Customs Command, spokesperson, who could not his feelings  had said  that his  ‘’strategic and  concerted efforts  have yielded  a remarkable  and unprecented  increase in the revenue profile of the Coommand’’, which many believe is basically an interventionist unit.

DSC. Abubakar, had said that between January and June, 2023, Compt.  Omale, in spite of all the challenges of the Bandits Group attacks in the two north western  states that share boundary with Niger,  has succeeded  in pushing up its revenue profile .  He   had  said  that the Command   generated  N2,418,477.44  with the first half the year as against N1,926,265,749.00, within the same trading period  in 2022, showing an increased  performance of  25.%.

Many believe that Compt. Omale , could  generate much  in six months in a basically an anti-smuggling Command as he  had blocked all areas of revenue Leakage and encouragement  of the people to embrace genuine trade and endeavor to pay the appropriate duty  to take delivery of their Consignment  as well as  export  their cargoes  to other trading partners with the Economic Community of West States , ECOWAS , sub-region.

They noted that that  the  Soko/Zamfara state  Area Controller, Commitment to promoting  ease of  doing business  and trade facilitation at the border Areas  in the two states   may have sent a message to the stakeholders  and even the smugglers to turn a new leaf  and do the right thing, which had reflected in the Command’s revenue generation  over the last six months.        

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