Until his elevation as the Acting Comptroller, Seme Command, of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, by Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller general, NCS, following the redeployment of Muhammed Uba Garba, the former Area Comptroller, as the Zonal Coordinator of the Ilorin , Kwara state, based Border Drill sector 3, not many people knew much about the anti-smuggling potentials of Shedi Wada.
Wada may have been exposed to the realities of anti-smuggling operations with the opportunities given to him on January 4, 2020, by Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS. He knew he cannot afford to fail that he was forced to mobilise his Management Team to go back to the drawing board to restrategise on how to deal with the unrepentant smugglers. This may have informed why he is very happy with Ali, the Customs Comptroller General for giving him the opportunity to prove himself.
The little exposure he may have had in dealing with the smugglers at the Command outstation at Owode-Apa, Nigeria main border Community with the neighbouring West African country of Benin Republic in the south west, maritime analysts believe hd emboldened him to deal decisively with the smugglers in the last six months. This is evident going by the Contraband seizures that were said to have been made by the Command.
The Contraband items that were said to have been intercepted by the Command under the close watch of Wada within the six months under review include Foreign par boiled rice, Premium Motor Spirit, popular, petrol, Poultry Products, Parcels of Cannabis Sativa, General Merchandise goods, and vehicles. Note Foreign rice and vehicles had been banned from coming into the country by President Muhammdu Buhari , on Jaunary 1st, 2017.
Given a breakdown of the intercepted Contraband , an elated Wada, who could not hide his feelings disclosed that made 54, 275 litres of petrol, 327 cartons of poultry products, 111 Parcels of cannabis sativa, which in local parlance is called, India Hemp, and 996 general merchandise goods were I seized from the smugglers.
. He further disclosed between the month the Customs Authorities got the Presidential directive to hand over the seized Foreign rice across the various warehouses across the country and Wednesday June 17, 2020, the Command had made an additional seizure of an 695 ‘’50’’ bags of the Asian country of Thailand parboiled rice.
It was gathered that out of the 155 trucks load of Foreign rice evacuated from Government warehouses and Confirmed by National Agency for and Drug Administration , NAFDAC, to be good for HHuman Consumption, the Command alone had contributed the initial 25,00 bags, followed by another 17,00 bags and an 7 ,00 bags, bringing it to a total of 49,000 ‘’50’’ bags of rice.
He lamented that despite the Wuhan Town in Hebei Province of the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular, COVID 19, which had resulted in the lockdown of the global economy , the unpatriotic and desperate Nigerians had continued with their ‘’evil act of smuggling’’.
He noted that with the tight security mounted within the Seme Jurisdiction, ‘’ no matter how they smugglers try to go , we are there for them’’. According to with the Command renewed anti-smuggling strategies which had forced the Crack Team to go after them in their hideouts at their illegal routes in the bush, the Command had been able to intercept some exotic vehicles which were the exclusive preserve of the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, over the last two and half years , as such vehicles fall into the waiting hands of the Command Lagos Roving Team Headed by Riks Lura, a Chief Superintendent of Customs.
Given an insider information, the Seme Customs Comptroller confirmed the interception and detention of a Mercedez Benz 300, 2010, model, which according a vehicle dealer , has a current market value of about N14 million while the duty payable if it had passed through the country’s seaport and the import document duely processed for clearing is about N7, 124,788.00.
Other exotic vehicles that were said to have been intercepted by the Command various Crack Teams combing the bush and at strategic locations on the road include the Germany manufactured Mercedez GLK 350, Amati and Toyota Highlander 213 model. The exotic vehicles were said to have been intercepted and detained between April 17, 2020 and now as the Command continue to test run its new anti-smuggling strategies aimed at forcing the smugglers to submission.
Wada, the Seme customs comptroller, could not understand how someone could could afford to cough out millions of naira to buy a vehicle at Cotonou, Beni n republic, and then bow to pressure to smuggle t into the country through the bush in order to escape payment of payment.
A Valuation expert who spoke to The Magazine put the total Duty Paid Value, DPV, of the 213 interceptions made by b the Command between January and June 17, 2020, at N163, 409,142.00.
Recall that last December Ali, the Customs Comptroller General , had provided a window for those whose vehicles were intercepted and detained by the FOU, across the country or other anti-smuggling Customs Commands to visit the nearest FOU, Command to them to process their document and pay the mandatory duty and 25% surcharge in order to take delivery of their detained vehicles.
Some of the Vehicl e smugglers were said to have taken advantage of the soft-landing provided by the Customs helmsman to pay their duties and the 25 surcharge for such detained vehicles. Insider sources told The Magazine that those who were lucky to do so did it based on the report of the Customs Command investigation . Some people who were said to have been using their vehicles for years without Customs papers were said to have taken advantage of the Customs window to formalize their vehicle documenst to avoid Customs harassment on the road.
Insiders told The Magazine that the policy was stopped last February by the Customs Authorities but thousands of people across the country benefitted from it. This is an indication that smugglers whose vehicles had fallen into the waiting hand of the Command anti-smuggling Team between March, 2020 and now and now, face outright seizure of their vehicles. For now, only the Customs Comptroller General has the power to decide when tore open such a window again for smugglers who have lost their vehicles to Customs to pay the necessary C duty and the 25% surcharge in order to take delivery of their vehicle..
Appealing to smugglers to embrace Legitimate trade as a means of livelihood, Wada averred that’’ it is the only way they could escape Customs harassment or engage in smuggling items that poses a threat human health’’. The Seme Customs Comptroller, has made it clear to those that cares to listen’’ that Customs will continue to actualise sustainable campaigns and strict enforcement of the government Fiscal policies with a view to protect the nation economically and socially’’.