Anti-smuggling: How Customs Officials Blocked The South West

By Stephen Ubana

Between September, 2018 and now, Mohammed Aliyu , Comptroller, Federal Operations Unit, Zone A,Ikeja,  and his anti-smuggling officials have waged an un-relentless battle against fraudulent importers with their agents and smugglers in the south west.

this is a battle that was said to have been started by Muhammed Uba Garba, his predecessor that forced many of the dubious importers with their agents and smugglers to go underground. Mohammed, the FOU, Zone A, Customs boss, may have made matters worse for the stakeholders at the seaports when he gave a matching order to Riks Lura, a Chief Superintendent of Customs, CSC, and the head of the Command Operations  and Lagos Roving team, after a meeting with Bashir Mohammed and Musa Abdullahi, Comptrollers of Apapa and Tin can Island respectively to block the seaports to ensure that only genuine  Containerised cargoes get their destination. Mohammed, may have his reason of taking the decison. This is because of the rumour making the rounds that suspected cargoes are still being released at the ports. The directive may have forced Riks, regarded as an officer with an ”eagle eye” to mobolise his officers to effectively block the Oshodi-Apapa Express Way.  this appears to have paid off.

this is  is evident going by the number of Containerised cargoes , both 20 ft and 40ft that are  being transferred to the Command  warehouse on account of  wrong Classification, transfer of value and underpayment daily. An agent who spoke to The Value News disclosed that the Comptrollers at the the two major seaports appear to have beamed their search on what their officers  at the terminals are doing as it is no longer an easy to take out suspected cargoes at the port because of the fear of  FOU men on the road. The agent disclosed further that even further even if they succeed in getting out the Consignment from the port, it may not escape the eagle of Riks who is 24 hours on his phone communicating with his men on the road.

Riks Lura: Giving Fraudulent Agents Tough Time

Importers whose Consignments had falling into the waiting hand of the Lagos Roving team  personnel who were said to have proved to be too smart were said to have forced the Lagos Roving team boss to order for the profiling of their imports to ascertain what the importer has been paying over the years since he went into the business of importing from China. There was an incident where it was discovered a particular importer has been cheating the government over the years on the same Consignment of consumable finished product. The Company, according to a source, was said to have started with the payment of 5 percent duty as against 20 percent. The alleged Company was said to have paid 10 percent duty on the Consignment that landed it into trouble. There are several cases which had been discovered by the team.

It is not surprising why Mohammed, the Area Comptroller is always very busy looking at the case files of such suspects to ensure that the government recovers the lost revenue. Last year alone, the Command was said to have recovered N694 million lost revenue. Much of the revenue was said to have been recovered during the Administration of Garba, now Comptroller Seme Command.

Riks and his men may not have concentrated their effort in policing the seaports but were said to Roving the entire south west to compliment  the effort of  Superintendents Ahmed Kaugama and Ajao .O.O. officers in-charge of the Command’s Strike Force and Crack teams respective.

Insiders informed The Value News that the same matching order given to Riks and his men to block the seaports  by Mohammed, the Command Area Comptroller, was  extended to the duo to cover the six states in the south west: Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo and Osun states to ensure that smugglers do not have any escape route.

Ahmed Kaugama: Effectively takes Over The South West Ant-smuggling Operations

A source confirmed that Ahmed and his team members have no moment of rest as they are always in the bush chasing vehicle and foreign parboiled rice smugglers who are coming into the country through the porous borders of Ogun state.  Note that there are confirmed 84 illegal routes used by smugglers in the state. The Ahmed team, according to sources, were said to have effectively taken over the notorious Sango-Idirok route in the state that it has become very difficult for any smuggler to dare the Customs anti-smuggling officers with their smuggled items. The number of exotic vehicles with them earth on them transferred to the Command premises by the team speaks volume.

 ”I am in-charge of the entire south anti-smuggling Operations and there is no escape route for smugglers”, Ahmed reportedly said. his work in the  region  may have been much  easier in the oyo axis, which has the notorious Saki Border, with the deployment of Jack Okpabi, a CSC, in-charge of the Command Rapid Response Team, RR, to the area. Ajao, and his Crack team members have not been left as they have successfully cracked down on many notorious smugglers and dispossessed them of their prized items.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had banned the importation of foreign rice and vehicles through the land Border into the country on January 1, 2017. the policy which may have been in force since they may have forced the Border and the FOU, Comptrollers, across the country, particular, Zone A, officials to go after the smugglers in their hideouts.

Maritime stakeholders believe that the activities of the trio: Riks, Ahmed and Ajao, may have forced Mohammed, the Command Area Comptroller to give Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel assurance that he has no cause to worry as the region is under control, noting that there is no hiding place for fraudulent agents and smugglers. Ali, may have been encouraged by the report that he was said to have directed the Customs Comptroller to send the assessment report of the officers to the Headquarters for reward. there are indications that the Customs boss may give them Certificate for outstanding celebration in the forthcoming World Customs Day Celebration, WCO, which may be cemented with their uplift to  the next rank, which they are due to get. Mohammed was said to have forward the names of the trio and others , waiting to get the response of the Management.

 Many believe that the compensation of the trio and others who had been recognised in the past of making spectacular seizures and recovered millions of naira lost for the government through appropriate rewards would encourage those at the seaports and land Border Areas to sit up to win awards and get accelerated promotion.

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