By Stephen Ubanna
Those who think that the Borders with the neighbouring countries of Republic of Benin, Niger and the Central African country of Cameroon, would be opened this January may have to do a rethink.
This is because Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service appear to have made made some changes in the sector Commands of the Border Drills across the country. The changes were said to have affected some Commands where the Comptrollers were appointed as the acing Assistant Comptroller General , ACG., of the sector Commands and a Deputy Comptroller as an acting Comptroller, of Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A,Ikeja, Lagos.
One of the Comptrollers said to have been affected was Aliyu. A. Mohammed, who was formerly in-charge of FOU, Zone A, and now Border Drills, acting Zonal Command 4 based in Kaduna, north west geo-political region.
.He was said to have been replaced by Deputy Comptroller, DC, Usman Yahaya,, the officer in-charge of the CGC, strike Force Lagos,Zonal office, and who incidentally was a former DC. Enforcement in the Command.T he deployment of Yahaya, to FOU, Zone A, though in acting capacity , was a clear indication, that the Management appreciates what he has done at the Lagos Strike Force office over the last one year.
Many believe that this may have informed his eventual upliftment, despite the fact that there are many Comptrollers , without offices at the Zonal and the Customs Headquarters , waiting for deployment to the Commands but no luck . The multi-million naira tramdol seizure at a private warehouse in Lagos may have facilitated his redeployment to the anti-smuggling Command.
Perhaps, to ensure that there was no vacuum, in the operations of the Lagos Strike Forc, office, AG. Kakudi, an Assistant Comptroller and second in Command toYahaya, was said to have been asked to step into his shoes.
Another Comptroller, who was said to have been affected in the redeployment officers was Mohammed Uba Garba, Comptroller, Seme Command an, who had proved too difficult for cross-border smugglers of the Asian country of Thai produced par boiled rice, second hand vehicles and other fairly used prohibited items from Benin Republic into the Nigerian market including the re-export of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular, Petrol, into the Benin market through the Creeks. the Seme Command Comptroller was said to have been redeployed to sector 3, based in Ilorin, Kwarra state, north central geo-political region.
To hold the Command for the period , he would be away from the Command , according to a Headquarters source, is one Deputy Comptroller Wada, who was said to have been shuttling between the Command Head office and the Owode out station. any believ Many believe that he knows much about the Command anti-smuggling operations because of his close working relationship with the former Comptroller .
A Headquarters source told The Value News that the letter announcing the redeployment of the senior officers was released on Tuesday, December 24, 2019. It was said to have been signed by one AU.Sanusi, a Deputy Comptroller General, in –charge of Human Resources Development, showing the importance attached to the staff order movement.
The source disclosed that the staff order takes immediate effect. It is not surprising why Ali, the Customs Comptroller General has asked the affected officers to” handover and take over immediately” in order to sustain the tempo of the service anti-smuggling operations.
It could not be ascertained whether the redeployment of the affected officers was permanent or temporary. Many believe that the redeployment of the affects was a signal of an impending mass redeployment of officers early next year as virtually all Customs personnel are members of the Border drills in their respective Zones.
Those who are conversant with Customs politics and intrigues, belive that the affected officers who have been redeployed to new areas of operations in acting Capacity , may no longer wear their old ranks either as Comptroller, Deputy Comptroller or Assistant Comptrollers as they may be promoted to the next rank.
They cited one VictorDimka, a one-time Deputy Comptroller of Customs who was re-deployed to FOU, Zone A, as an acting Comptroler, by Abdullahi Dikko, a former Comptroller General of Customs but was later elevated to the enviable rank of Comptroller by the current Customs helmsman.
The redeployment, is also a clear indication that the two Muhammeds, may not return to their old Commmands as Comptrollers but may resume at the Customs Headquarters as acting ACGs to replace some of the Management Staff that may retire next year.
DCs Usman and Abdullahi Kirawa, who is the acting Comptroller , Kaduna/Katsina Command, may also benefit from the Comptroller General’s promotion to wear Comptrollers rank without going through the promotion examination process.Although, they may have attended the recent promotion examination exercise conducted by the Management but it may be for formality.
This is why all officers must rally around Ali, the Comptroller general, to ensure that the mandate given to him by President Muhammadu Buhari to reform and restructure the Service, as well as improve its yearly revenue generation which has hit the trillion market were sustained.
For now, the Border Drill operations, which had resulted into the partial closure of the borders with the neighbouring countries across the country over the last four months may be taken to a new height with the redeployment of the no nonsense two Muhammeds, to sectors 4 and 3, as officers who knew their onions. Bad News for Smugglers.
indeed, the Customs Comptroller General has succeeded in telling Customs officers that the Border Drills which is Coordinated by Babagana Munguno, a retired Major General and National Security Adviser, NSA, takes precedence over the FOUs Commands and CGC trike Force, as it was set up by the Presidency. The redeployment of the two Muhammeds to the Border drills as acting sector Commanders speaks volume.
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