Border Closure: Ali Strengthens the Border Drills

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.He was said to have been replaced by Deputy Comptroller, DC, Usman Yahaya,, the officer in-charge of the CGC, strike Force Lagos,Zonal office, and who incidentally was a former DC.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.

Compt. Muhammed: Heads Border Drills Secto r 4 Command

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.

Compt. Mohammed Uba Garba: Reployed To Border Drills Sector 3 Command

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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