Customs: Seme Command Generates N53 million In Two Months As CGC Strike Force Team A, Recovers N1 billion Lost Revenue

By Stephen Ubanna

Those who think that the rucks load of pineapple, coconut and biscuit coming into the country from the West African countries, Ghana, Togo , Cotted’Ivoire and  Benin Republic, into the Nigerian market , are being smuggled, may have to do a rethink.

 The cross-border traders are said to have been making correct declaration of the contents of their trucks  at the baggage and  the duty slammed on their goods duly paid  before being allowed to enter into the country.  That much was confirmed Mohammed Jibo, Comptroller, Seme Command.

The Magazine findings  shows that the cross-border traders who were initially hesitant to resume their business because of the fear that President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired  army General, may  decide to change his mind at the last minute to close the land border routes  with the  Benin republic, Niger and the central African country of Cameroon, which may  affect their business. It was therefore, not very surprising  why they adopted a wait and see attitude to watch the  situation  before resuming their Cross-border importation.

This may have informedwhy there was low volume of Economic Community of West African, ECOWAS, Trade Liberalisation Scheme. TLS, goods that had entered the country,in the month of January. The Value News findings shows that the Command generated three million naira, from the few trucks load of coconut, pineapple and cartons of biscuit that had   entered the country through the Seme Command  baggage.

 The cross-border traders , who may have become convinced that the Katsina state born Nigerian President , may not go back on his words of reopening the 18 month-old closed borders with the neighbouring countries, that they had resumed full scale buying of the local agricultural products, particular, coconut, pineapple and manufactured  Biscuits within the sub-region. This may have informed why the revenue generated from the items went up to about N50million in the month of February, 2021.

This is an indications that in two months, the Command, generated about N53million, from Baggage alone. This is an amount that could have entered into private pockets if the land border routes had remained closed till now. This is an indications that for the 18 months, that the country’s borders with the neighbouring countries of Benin, Niger and Cameroon were closed  and these ETLS, agricultural products: coconut and pineapple including some  ETL, manufactured products, particular, biscuits, from these  countries are sold in Nigeria, the country was losing  millions of naira monthly.

Compt.Jibo: Seme Command

An informed source told the Magazine that the revenue that will enter into  the government coffers from the Seme Command bagge, in the month of March, 2021, may double the amount realised  in the months of January and February as the traders  have come embrace the new rules. Comptroller Jibo,  was said  to have also succeed in blocking areas revenue leakage  at the Command  that it will be very difficult for any  cross-border trader or import to make underpayment because of the close monitoring from his  closed Circuit Television, CCTV.  

Many had expected the revenue from the Command to have increased phenomenally with the approval that had been given to the transit cargo importers by the Nigerian government to still make use of the Benin Autonomous port of Bnin, Cotonou and  Bollore port  to take delivery of their cargoes based on the request of Patrice Talon, the Benin President.

. Although,the transit cargo importers may be willing to resume importation but the Benin Republic Customs Authorities with the acking of  President Talon ,may  not be  making things easy for the transit cargoes importers  which may have forced many of them who have had relocated to the Lagos port  in the wake of the border closure  to remain at the  Lagos ports.

 There are  indications that since the transit cargo importers got the  Presidential nod to import through the Seme border, described as the business border in the West African sub-region, only three Containers belonging  to Nigerian transit importers had arrived the Autonomous port of Benin, awaiting to be cleared.

DC. Shuaibu: CGC Team A, Coordinator

Many believe that once the transit cargoes importers resume importation and are  ready to be Compliant in doing the right thing to avoid playing into the hands of the Seme  Customs personnel, the  monthly  revenue  generation of the Command would rise significantly.

In a related development , the Comptroller General of Customs, CGC, Strike Force, Team A, headed by Ahmadu Shuaibu, a Deputy Comptroller, appears to have hit the  N1 billion , recovered as  short payment  of duties on imported cargoes from the Lagos ports  of Apapa, Tin-can Island, Portulti-services Terminal Limited, PTML. Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, KLT, including the bonding the bonded terminals attached to the Commands.

 The CGC Team A, Coordinator and his Team members were said to have initially recovered about N800 million from the short fall payment of duties , on cargoes  released from the Lagos ports in the months of January and February. The recovery of the amount which had entered into private accounts may have encouraged  the Team members  to step up their operations in order to achieve  the N1 billion target set for itself between January and March 2021.

AC .Sarumi: A Hard Working Officer, IGC Strike Force Team A

From the onset, CGC Strike Force , Coordinator, Team A, and Sarumi, an Assistant Comptroller and his second in Command, were optimistic that the NI billion was achievable by blocking all areas of revenue  leakages at the  Lagos ports.

 The ovr  N3370 million that was said to have been recovered by the Team A,  in the month of March , 2021, may have pushed up the recovered lost revenue   by the Team , for the government in three months to N1billion., without mounting road blocks to scrutinise import documents of Containeised cargoes s or vehicles released from the Lagos ports.

 Maritime analysts  believe that not even   the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, under the  close watch of  acting Comptroller Yahaya, or the  Border rills, Coordinator, in Lagos, could   boast of the recovery of such huge amount of lost revenue for the government  in three months with the large number of officers in  their  Patrol Teams  on the road both within the Lagos ports environment and outside the seaports.

An informed source told The Magazine  both not for the headway being made by the CGC Strike Force Team A, in the south west to compete with the established FOU, Zone A and the Border Drills,  which have  officers drawn from the various security agencies in the country to make spectacular  Contraband seizures and recover millions of lost revenue for the government   which could have entered into private pockets,  Hameed  Ali, a retired army Colonel and  the Customs Comptroller General,  Nigerian Customs Services, NCS,could have dissolved the  ad-hoc Teams which have operational bases in  Lagos, Kaduna, Owerri and Bauchi, for non-performance.

 The source disclosed that the CGC ad-hoc Team – Coordinators in Kaduna, and PortHarcourt, and may not have given  a good account of themselves despite the  Headquarters’  support , thus giving the FOUs and Border drills personnel in their various  regions of Operations  to have the  upper hands in the anti-smuggling war.

 The Customs Comptroller General, may have put Deputy Comptrollers Olorukobo , Coordinator, Team B, Kaduna,  M. A. Yusus, Team C, Port Harcourt and the Strike Force Headquarters Team  Headed by  H.K. Ejibunu, an Assistant Comptroller and their Team members  , who came into office,  last October time  to sit up   or be ready to be disbanded for fresh hands to  be introduced   to complement the efforts of the  FOUs personnel   to battle smuggling activities in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

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