Insecurity: Security Tightened Up At Customs And Police Checkpoints To Forestall Attacks

By Stephen Ubanna

Hameed Ali, a retired army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, appears to have given a matching order to the Interventionist units across the country to tighten up security at their various checks in their areas of Jurisdiction.

 Ali, the Customs boss  is  not happy that the dire hard smugglers operating between the south east and the south-south states   had taken advantage of the Joint security Team, comprising of the Nigeria Police Intelligence Response Team, IRT, Department of State Security, DSS and the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, personnel, to attack the Awomama Headquarters of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOD and  Eastern Security Network, ESN, on Saturday, April24,2021,  to launch  a similar   attack on  a Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone C, Patrol  base in Isiokpo, Headquarters  of Ikwerre local government Area.

  He is working closely with Usman Alkali Baba, acting Inspecting Geneneral of Police ,IGP, who was said to have mandated Friday Eboka,  the Rivers state  Commissioner of Police and his men  to intensify their Intelligence gathering to get a clue on the hideout of the smugglers  and  arrest them in order to face the full weight of the Law.

A retired senior Customs officer who spoke to Value News on condition of anonymity had described the Omagwa- Isiokpo – Elele Communities along the PortHarcourt –Owerri road as a   notorious route for smugglers and gunmen to carry out attacks on security operatives in the state.

 Last June  Kyode Olusemiere , a one -time Comptroller of Federal Operations  Unit, FOU, Zone C, Owerri, and now Comptroller Enforcement, at the Customs Headquarters  had  made  a seizure of 3,122 live ammunition Cartridges for pump action rifles , with a Duty Paid Value of over N1.873 billion, around the Isiokpo Patrol base Checkpoint Concealed in a vehicle .   

This may have  informed  the news making the rounds that the attackers of the Customs Patrol base may not  unconnected to arms smugglers, using the Omagwa-Isiokpo-Elele Communities in the oil –rich Rivers state to carry out their nefarious activities. Jerry Atta a Deputy Superintendent of Customs and the FOU, Zone C, spokesperson may have alluded to this when he blamed  ‘’the killing  of the Customs operatives  on the armed smugglers  whose  businesses have been frustrated  by the Customs in the recent time’’. 

Customs : Confirms Killing of Its Men By Gunmen

Appearing on Channels Television on Sunday, April 25, 2021, Atta, not the National Customs Public Relations Officer,  confirmed   that three of its officers  were killed  by the gunmen during the attack. He disclosed that’’ the killers went away  with an AK47 and two Toyota Hilux Patrol vans  belonging to the service’’.

They may have used the Customs vehicles as a Camouflage to carry out their nefarious activities to avoid being stopped  by another Customs Patrol team on the road  for the regular  routine check- up.  They may have had at the back of their mind that they   have escaped but they have to watch it as the full arm of the Law will still catch up with them.

 The FOU, Zone C, Command officials were said to have reached out to other Checkpoint  Team leaders between Rivers and Cross-river state to look out for the  smugglers  and gunmen who have hijacked the two Customs Hilux vans at the Isiokpo Patrol base. This may have intensified the manhunt for the thieves in the south east and south-south Geo-political regions. The argument in both official circles was that the smugglers  cum gun gunmen have not  yet left the two regions to  enter the northern part of the county.

Atta may have spoken the mind of the Customs Comptroller General when he said that  an ‘’investigation Team  would be Constituted ‘’to unravel  the circumstances  that led to the attack and also unravel the motive of the  of the assailants’’.  Given the good working relationship between the Customs and the Force,  Nnadi Omoni, a Suprintendent of Police and    the Rivers State police Command spokesperson had said   that’’ it has  launched a full scale investigation  into the gunmen attack at the Customs Isiokpo Patrol base Checkpoint  with a view  to arresting  the perpetrators  and bringing them to Justice’’.

FOU,Zone C,, Reinforce patrol Teams

Meawhile, Yusuf Lawal, the Command Area Comptroller,  whose anti-smuggling Patrol Team, had intercepted 5,200 Live ammunition Cartridges of 30GR 70mm caliber last January   , was said to have reinforced  the Isiokpo Patrol base Team  to further strengthen it to ward off any attack from intruders.  He was said to have also increased  the number of Joint Patrol Teams  along the Omagwa-Elele-Isiokpo axis in order  to contain the activities of the  smugglers and other gunmen within the Ikwerre and Owerri, Imo state axis, described as the home of the IPOD and ESN, Group.

A security source told The Magazine that the  attack at a Customs Checkpoint in Rivers state  have toughened other security Operatives, particular, the Police at their various Checkpoints across the country as they may not want to be  taking unaware or allow the gunmen attack Customs Operatives  carrying out their Legitimate duties  and get away.

Customs-Police Joint Patrol To Checkmate Gunmen And Smugglers

From the south west states of Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, south east Abia, Anambra, Eboyi, Imo.  And the south –south states Akwa Ibom, Cross river , Rivers to the north  central states of Kwara Benue, Niger, home state of for military President Ibrahim Babangida,  a retired  army General and the north  western states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano, Kaduna and Katsina, home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, the story is the same: Tightened security at Police Chekpoint  manned  by fierce-looking officers, armed to the  teeth. This is a message to the killer smugglers and gunmen that it is no longer going to be business as usual: Kill and Go.

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