FOU: Renewed Crackdown On Smugglers, Arrest A Disguised COVID 19 Vehicle Used In Smuggling In Ogun State

By Stephen Ubanna

 Barely  a week after The Value News  did a story on COVID 19: An Unusual Era of Anti-smuggling and Revenue  generation  for the government  where The Magazine stated that the Federal Operations  Unit, FOU, FOU, Zone A, appear to have slowed down its anti-smuggling drive, paving the way for the  Comptroller General of Customs , CGC, Strike Force,  Lagos Zonal office,  Coordinated by Adba Kakudi, an acting Deputy Comptroller, to step in, Usman Yahaya, the Command  Acting Area Comptroller and his boys are back on track.

Unknown to many  Yahaya and his boys had  a working agenda to make an  earth shaking seizure that could surprise critics.  The Magazine learnt that the Customs acting Comptroller had deployed various patrol Teams to police Ogun , described as the home of smugglers with a mandate that  no  Contraband should be allowed to enter  into the Nigerian market.

 The Teams were said to have  gone  into work in the last four months  combing the nooks and crannies of the state  to clip the wings of smugglers on the bud. The fallout was the  seizure of  Contraband  valued at about N12.7 billion,  between January and April, 2020. The seizure of the multi-billion Contraband by the Command in four months may have forced Kakudi  and  his  Patrol Team leaders to go back to the drawing board to restrategise on how to deal with smugglers in the south west  geo-political region.

Jerry Attah, an Assistant Superintendent of Customs and  the Command Spokes person  who could not allow the laudable  efforts of the Patrol Teams  to go unpublicised  was said to have got the approval of the Acting Comptroller to issue a Statement  that was  well publicized  in both print, electronic and online mediums.

Acting Compt. Yahaya Look With Disbelief At The Smuggled Poultry Products Loaded In The intercepted COVID 19 Vehicle

Attah confirmed  that one of the Patrol  Teams had   intercepted the vehicle under the guise of going on essential duty but  carrying thousands of  cartons of smuggled poultry products   from Benin republic into the Nigerian Market. The smugglers  may have beaten all the security Checkpoints mounted  by  the Customs and other security agencies personnel on the road to enter the Ijebu Ode Expressway.

They were, however, unlucky to have  played  into the hands of another FOU Team at Ijebu Ode. The FOU, Zone A,  spokesperson  disclosed  that  the Ijebu-Ode Team were able to intercept the disguised vehicle acting  on information. He said  the  eagle eyed officers who intercepted the vehicle on alleged essential duty  were on routine patrol at the ijebu Ode axisis.

It is not surprising why an  elated Yahaya described  ‘’the officers who made seizure as professional enough to have intercepted  the vehicle which was believed to have  been used in the environment to smuggle essential Commodities since the outbreak of the Wuhan Town in Hebei Province of the Asian country of China emerged Coronavirus.

The Customs Patrol Team which intercepted  the vehicle, according to an eyewitness account were shocked at the extent to which the desperate smugglers could go to carry out their nefarious activities.

  But Yhaya may have gladdened the  heat of Nigerians when he  said ‘’We have arrested the vehicle’’, stressing that ” investigation has commenced to get to  the root of the criminal activity and unravel those behind it”.   This is bad news to other smugglers that are  involved  in taking such high  risk’’ as the Customs Comptroller has vowed to get them.

Notwithstanding  the N12.7  billion worth of Contraband   which the  FOU, Zone A, Acting Comptroller  had said were intercepted from smugglers  between January and April this year, the Command was said to have also recovered  N1.4bn which could have entered into private accounts  from underpayments through issuance of demand Notice, DN, voluntary payment of duties on smuggled  vehicles without  Customs  documents and auction of Premium Motor Spirit,PMS, popular , petrol  seized from Bunkerers  at the Owode axisis of Badagry west local government area.   The Comptroller disclosed that the recovered amount had been paid  into the Treasury Single Account, TSA, of the  government.

Giving a break- down of the seizures that were said to have been made within the four months under review , Yahaya disclosed  it was made up of  25 units of  fairly used vehicles worth N108million, 5644 cartons of frozen chicken worth N54.1million, 9843 bags of 50kg smuggled parboiled rice worth N130.4million and bundles  of textile materials worth N94million .

Other seized items that were made  by the Command   include , N14million worth of used tyre, 3764 kegs of smuggled vegetables Oil, worth N69.2million, 8,565 litres of petrol and Automotive Gas Oil, AGO, popular, Diesel worth 35million.

 Many believe that the Command  could have made  much more  than that quantity of the Petroleum Products from Bunkerers  both for the alleged sell out  of some officers who were said to be providing  security to some of these  influential  bunkerers who were said to  have  been giving protection to operators who have strong link in government circles both at the Federal and state levels. This is where Yahaya may have to put a close -watch on the  patrol officers at the Gbaji and Owode axisis to avoid dragging the name of the Command to the mud.  

Already, the FOU, Zone A, Customs Comptroller has sent a signal to the smugglers operating in the south west  that the game is up. “We won’t- relent on our anti-smuggling drive especially at this time that the government is much concerned about the  diversification of the economy  into other sectors, particular,  agriculture  to cushion the effect of the drop in  the price of Oil in the international market which has affected the government revenue base.

He has also vowed to reduce to the  nearest minimum the  smuggling activities  in the south western states of Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo Oyo and Osun.  The seizure of the Contraband  from  smugglers operating between Benin Republic and Nigerian  by the Command in the last four months  speaks  volume. It gives an insight of the Service should expect from the Command in the next four months from its anti-smuggling operations.

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