MMA: Compt. Yusuf Tackles Cargo Thieves, Smugglers And Criminal Recycling Of  Airway Bills

By Stephen Ubanna

 Comptroller Mohammed Yusuf, a one -time Zonal Coordinator of the defunct Headquarters Strike Force Team A, Lagos, which compliments the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Ikeja, Ikeja, Lagos, in overseeing the anti-smuggling operations in the south western geopolitical region and the Lagos port activities appears to have brought his experience to bear at the Murtala Muhammed   Airport, MMA, Command.

This is evident going by the sanity that had returned to Sky Way Handling Company Limited, SAHCOL and the Nigerian Aviation Cargo Handling Company, NAHCO, PLC, sheds where imported cargoes are deposited for 100% examination and subsequent release and delivery to the importer through his freight forwarder.  Over the years, SAHCO and NAHCO, have been a den of petty cargo thieves and recycling of air way bills to take delivery of cargoes.

Past Area Comptrollers of the Command had battled the petty cargo thieves, importers with their agents involved in recycling airway bills to take delivery of their cargoes at the two cargo shades under the control and management of the Command forcing many of them to go underground but only to return once a new Comptroller was redeployed the MMA, Command.

They may have got it wrong with the redeployment of Compt. Yusuf, who incidentally was the former Zonal Coordinator of the Defunct Headquarters to the Command as he was said to have made the SAHCO and NAHCO, too hot for them to operate.  Compt. Yusuf was said to have beamed his searchlight on the two Shades under the control of the Command to ensure that the right thing is done.

 He was said to have worked closely with the DC. Valuation, who is always scrutinizing the airways used in clearing cargoes at the both SAHCO and NAHCO. Cargoes that attract heavy duty of millions of naira may be relased and still detained if it is suspected that the right duty was not paid.

  Compt. Yusuf may have known that he has a big task at MMA, he had no option but to embark on a sensitization Campaign  of the importers with their freight Forwarders   that caught across the  Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ALCA,   National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders,  NAGFF, National Council Of Managing Directors Of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA , amongst others to ensure that  members do the right thing to avoid losing their cargoes to government.  

 In a recent chat with the Customs Comptroller, he told The Value News that the Command is getting the desired cooperation from the stakeholders as there have not been any cases of underhand tactics at either SHACO or NAHCO Sheds. Unlike in the past where the Patrol Teams of the Federal Operations, Zone A, were staioned at strategic Locations around the MMA, to stop and search cargoes at SAHACO and NAHCO, , and reroute suspected ones to the Command premises for proper examination, this time the FOU , personnel have no job to do at the airport as Compt. Yusuf and his officers are equal to the task.  

 An informed source told the online Magazine that Compt. Yusuf has established Teams that monitor the release and delivery of cargoes to the importers with their agents at both SAHCO and NAHCO.

 It waslearnt that there have been several instances where cargoes released had been recalled and detained and another examination conducted.  It was gathered that sometimes it has paid off as the suspected cargoes had been made to additional duties from same cargo import through the issuance of Demand Notice.   Enough of the MMA, Command new Management efforts to restore sanity to its operations and improve on its monthly revenue generations.

 Compt. Yusuf and his Management Team who were not ready to leave its flanks open were said to have blocked areas of revenue Leakage and ensure proper supervision   of the two Shades under the Control of the Command. Going by feelers from the Customs Headquarters, the Command had a daily revenue target of N405 million as against N200 million under the previous Management. But the Command could generate a monthly revenue target of N8.1 billion which was aid to have been paid into the Federation Account, meaning that the Command has a target of N97.2 billion to pay into the Federation Account  this 2023  Fiscal year.

An informed source told our Correspondent that as at September, 2023, the Command had generated and paid into the Federation Account about N67 billion or 70% of its 2023 revenue target into the Federation Account despite the low volume of cargo traffic which many had attributed to the unification of the official and parallel market exchange rates by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on assumption of duties on May 29, 2023. Compt. Yusuf had attributed the impressive revenue collection to the support of the Customs Comptroller General, Adeniyi. He had said that the Customs Comptroller General had given the Command all the necessary tools and operational vehicles to succeed.

Recall that last year, the Command had generated and paid into the Federation Account N68 billion, meaning that with the N67 billion already collected from imported cargoes deposited at both at SAHCO and NAHCO, between January and September 2023, the Command is expected to overshoot its revenue target  by  December 31, 2023.

Besides, improving on its monthly revenue generation   the Command within the first seven months of its operations this year had intercepted and seized items suspected to be dried shark fins and dried monkey genitals worth N1.22 billion.  According to Compt Yusuf.  The six packages of the suspected dried shark fins have a Free -On- Board, FOB, value of about N222 million while the 25 packages of dried donkey genitals have an FOB value of N1,01 billion.

The Command Enforcement Officers had apprehended the Nigerian heading to the Asian county of China with sharks fins while the smuggler for the dried donkey genitals who was a Chinese heading to Hongkong was also arrested and detained.

   The items were said to have been blocked and impounded   through coordinated anti-smuggling operations   by the Command officers in synergy with some critical stakeholders.  The items may have been seized because of the importers failure to comply with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES Law, of wild Fauna and Flora as enshrined in the Customs and Excise Management Act, CAP, 2004.

Last May, the Command had intercepted tramadol which Valuation Officers had put at about N2 billion were said to have been concealed and imported into the Country from the Asian countries of India and Pakistan. The tramadol drugs were said to have been imported into the country in 23 packets of 225 mg from the shed of NAHCO and 12 packets of 225 mg from the shed of SAHCOL. 

MMA Command Tramadol Seizures At NAHCO And SAHCOL

Giving Compt. Yusuf experience at Katsina Command, in former President Buhari state and the defunct Headquarters trike Force Tam A, the rugs were said to have fallen into the waiting hands of the Command Enforcement officers through credible intelligence      Compt. Yusuf and his officers involved in the operation within the airport.  The close working relationship between the various security agencies at the airport may have informed why the MMA, Area Controller handed over the seized tramadol drugs to the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, under the Leadership of Buba Marwa, a retired Army Brigadier General and former Nigerian Ambassador to South Africa.

Compt. Yusuf may have combined the drive for revenue Collection at the Command to giving a facelift to  the offices  and the Command premises.  He has planted trees around the Command premises that a first time visitor would wonder whether this is the same MMA, that looked unkept before now.  The MMA Area Controller was said to have also installed Solar power in the Command to  solve its power problem and save the huge  amount spent in buying diesel on a daily basis  to power its generator. Vintage Yusuf.

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