By Stephen Ubanna
Smugglers who killed Isaiah Peter, an Army Lieutenant at Igbo-Ora border Community on Friday, November 20, 2020, for daring to join a Patrol Team of the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, stationed at the town to scuttle their smuggling activities appear to have drawn the battle line with the Customs and the Army.
Investigations by The Value News revealed that ever since the gruesome murder of the Army Lieutenant and the raiding of the of the Unit outstation at Igbo-ora as well as the Operation Swift Response , popular, Border Drills, Lagos Zonal office and burning of a Customs operational vehicle became public, Usman Yahaya, the Command acting Comptroller and Jack Okpbabi, an Assistant Comptroller, who had led a special operation to Ido-Eruwa road to contain the activities of vehicle and Foreign rice smugglers in the area and now Head of Operations and Lagos Roving were said to have mapped out strategies on how to go after the suspects in their homes without creating a scene in the locality.
The Magazine learnt that the Customs acting Comptroller had given Jack and his Team members the go ahead to arrest the smugglers at all costs and bring them back to Lagos to face the full weight f the Law.
Jack, described as a very fearless officer, may have known that he and his boys who were armed to the teeth could not handle the situation alone because the smugglers operating in the area are very ruthless that he had to arrange for armed Soldiers to accompany the Customs Special Team For the Operation.
The Magazine learnt the Team had moved into Ibadan, the Oyo state Capital , on Tuesday, December1, 2020, night, without Mrs. Helene Ngozi , the Oyo /Osun, Customs Area Comptroller, who have been having a running battle with the smugglers being aware of the FOU, Zone A, Special Team in the State.
It was learnt that Nwachukwu Enwonnwu, the Oyo state Commissioner of Police, who has a good working relationship with the Oyo/Osun Customs Comptroller and Okwudili Filis, an Army Major General officer Commanding, goc, 2 Division, Nigerian Army, Ibadan , Oyo state , was not even aware of the presence of the FOU, Zone A, special Team in the state.
The special FOU Team, which was said to have been led By Jack, an Assistant Comptroller, overseeing the Command , Operations and Lagos Roving Team , were said to have combed Igbo-Ora Community , moving from one suspected house to another, linked with the killers of the Army Lieutenant as well as raiding the Customs outstation in the town .
The Operations of the FOU, Zone A, special, who were said to have laid ambush in the last Tuesday night may have leaked out that the smugglers went into hiding turning the whole town and Ido-Eruwa road, in Ibadan, regarded as another smugglers flash point in the state into a ghost town, with only goats and fouls found on the road and the smugglers routes.
The Magazine cited some of the officers who went for the operation at the Command, Ikeja, premiss,on Wednesday, December 2, 2020,very tired and worn out, having stayed throughout the night of Tuesday on the road at the Igbo- Ora Community smugglers’ route without food and water, including Jack , the Team leader. The soldiers, who participated in the Operation, were busy parading themselves in the premises, with their branded operational vehicle parked at a spot.
The Jack led FOU, Zone A, Team, on a special assignment to Igbo-Ora, to apprehend the killers of the Army Lieutenant may have returned to Lagos, without getting of the suspects, but they are not yet free yet.
What happened at Ido-Eruwa road, described as a notorious smugglers location in Oyo state may repeat itself . When Jack , as the then Officer in-charge of Gbaji Checkpoint, along the Badagry-Seme border route, had the mandate of Yahaya, the FOU, Zone Customs acting Comptroller, to stop the nefarious activities of the smugglers in the area, the Customs Assistant Customs Comptroller and his Team members were said to have laid ambush on the location on two different occasions but no luck.
But when all hopes seems to have been lost that the FOU, Zone A, Team would never come back for the Operation, Jack and his boys emerged from nowhere to dispossess the smugglers of hundreds of 50Kg bags of Foreign rice and 34 different brands of vehicles both new and fairly used, including Indian hemp, worth about N10 billion. The items were transferred to the Command premises, to the admiration of the acting Comptroller, who pated the officers on the back for a job well done.
While acting Comptroller Yahaya, and his boys and are making things difficult for the Foreign rice and vehice smuggglers in the south west geo-political region, Ahmadu Shuaibu, a Deputy Comptroller and Coordinator, Comptroller General of Customs , CGC, Strike Force, who has started his ensitisation Campaign with the releasing officers at the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tin-can Island port and Port-multi-services, Terminal Limited, PTM has extended the sensitization Campaigns to the APMs, at the Commands.
hE IS insisting that they must ensure that the right thing is done to forestall importers with their agents FROM shortchanging the government to avoid running into trouble. He was said to have also beamed his searchlight on the bonded Terminals which are linked to the Commands.
A senior Customs officer told The Magazine that this is the first time since the launching of the Strike Force by Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Customs Comptroller General, a Coordinator of the CGC, Strike Force, Team A, Lagos, would be probing into their operations. The officer disclosed that he could do so because he understands the enormous responsibilities of the Task Force compared to his predecessors who were busy chasing shadows.
Only recently, an attempt to fly a ‘’40’’, Container from Mitchel bonded terminal linked to the the Tin-can Island Command under the close watch of Abdullahi Musa, popular, MBA, was frustrated by the Shuiabu boys and the Container transferred to the Customs Training College , Ikeja, premises. The Magazine cited the truck laden ‘’40’’ Container at the Customs Training College on Wednesday, December 2, 2020.
There are indications that the Container might go for Examination to ascertain why the importer with his agent and their Customs Collaborators opted to fly the it instead of going through the clearing process. Efforts to speak to Musa, the Tin can Island Area Comptroller through visits and phone calls proved abortive.
Many believe that Shuaibu may have made appreciable impact at the ports within the short period of being in the office because of the mandate given to him and other Coordinators, of the CGC, Strike Force in the other Zones to enter into any Customs Command facility once there is suspicion of fraud with a view to blocking areas of revenue leakages.
As part of the CGC Strike Force, Coordinators mandate, Joseph Attah, a Deputy Comptroller and Customs and spokesperson said it is to assess Customs officers and their activities. Recall that in launching the Customs Task Force , code named Strike Force, Ali, the Customs, Comptroller General, had said that the essence of the Team is ‘’to promote the ease of doing business at the ports and land borders with the neigbouring West African country of Benin Republic, Niger, Tchad and the Central African country of Cameroon
. Shuaibu, may have followed religiously its assigned responsibility by the Comptroller General never mount road blocks as his men are only seen patrolling the road when they have credible information of smugglers actiivities as furnished by the surveillance operatives who do overt operations. This may have informed why the Shuaibu led CGC Strike Force Team A, intercepted the ‘’40’’ Container being flown out of Mitchel Terminal placed under the Tin can Island Command.