By Stephen Ubanna
Until last Friday, there was no sign that Muhammed Uba Garba, a former Comptroller ,Seme Command, and now acting Zonal Coordinator, Border Drill, Sector 3, overseeing anti-smuggling Operations in the north central Border states of Kwara, Niger, Kogi and Benue, will have any anything to do with the press because of the sector perceived low activities in the recent time.
Unknown to many the Border Drill sector 3, had made so much Contraband seizures between January and now, that were being computed in order to have something to show to the press. Even when the Border Drill sector 3, Zonal Coordinator, finally agreed to do so, he was careful of the Chikwe Ihekweazu, led Nigerian Center for Center for Disease and Control, NSC, and the World Health Organisation, WHO, a United Nation’s health agency , Social distancing rules, ostensibly meant to curb the spread of the Wuhan Town in Hebei Province of the Asian country of China emerged Coronavirus, popular, COVID 19.
Given the adequate security arrangement that was said to have been made to ensure that only invited Journalists were allowed into the Border Drill customs premises, he did not hesitate in giving the green light to Z. Chado, an Assistant Superintendent and the sector 3 , Spokesperson to prepare the ground for the Media briefing on Wednesday, June 11, 2020.
Note that the Border Drill, sector 3, no nonsense, Zonal Coordinator, who was said to have made a promise on assumption of duties last January, to smoke out the smugglers operating across the border Communities between Kwara, Niger, Kogi and Benue and Benin Republic, appears to have kept to his words.
This is evident going by the regular seizure of jerry can of 25 litres each of Petroleum Products, particular, petrol, Foreign Parboiled rice and fairly used vehicles which litter the Customs premises at Ilorin, the Kwara state Capital.
. Acting on the mandate of Ali, the Customs, Comptroller, General, Muhammed, the Border Drill sector 3, Zonal Coordinator and his Team members were said to have caome hard on the smugglers operating betweeen the four north central states and Benin, forcing them to cry out as they had continued to lose their multi-million naira smuggled goods, ranging from PMS, Foreign rice, second hand clothing, used sacks of shoes to used vehicles to the Team.
Eyewitness account disclosed that the invited the Journalist for the press briefing were shocked at what they saw when the Government Warehouse Ilorin , was opened for them to enter. Given an insider information about the activities of the Headquarter’s Team , between January and now, an elated Muhammed had confirmed that they made 162 seizures comprising of 17,216, of bags of ‘’50’’ each, of the Asian country of Thailand par boiled rice, 350 bundles of textile materials, 50 units of vehicles,75 motorcycles, 66 cartons of different brands of beers, 28 bags of Foreign produced Fertilizer, 15 sacks of second hand shoes and 360 tubers of yam.
This is in addition to the interception of 2,321, Jerry cans or 58,025 litres of PMS, popular, Petrol, and 944 drums of Automotive Gas Oil, AGO, or diesel, across the Border Communities in Kwara state alone, despite the directive by Ali, the Comptroller General, NCS, at the instance of the Katsina state born Nigerian president closing all filling stations within 20 Km radius to the Border Communities. Valuation experts had put the value of the seized Contraband at about N1.12 billion.
Investigations by The Magazine shows that much of the Jerrycans of the 25 litres each of petrol, that were seized by the Border Drill sector 3, various patrol Teams, were from the Creeks, particular, at Illesha Baruba, Okuta, Yashkira and Chikanda Border Communities in Baruten local government area of the state while some were intercepted from motorcyclists crossing the Border towns to Benin Republic.
There are several other Border Communities used by the smugglers in the north central state of Kwara to carry out their nefarious activities which may have informed why Muhammed , the Border Drill, sector 3, Zonal Coordinator had prepared the mind of the Officers in advance in order to confront the smugglers headlong.
Many believe that what is happening at the Baruten Border Communities in Kwara state was nothing compared to what is happening at Owode-Apa, Nigeria’s main south west town in Badagry south west local governemnt with Benin Republic.
It was not surprising why Ali, the Customs boss gave a matching order to Usman Yahaya, acting Comptroller, Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, to mobilise his men to stop the mess.
The interception of over 20,000 Jerry cans of 25 litres each of petrol from barges at the Creeks and motorists along the Badagry – Seme road, Owode-Apa and its environs between January and now by the Command gbaji checkpoint patrol Team led by one Jack Okpabi, a Chief Superintendent of Customs speaks volume.
In a related development, Aliyu Mohammed, a former Comptroller, FOU, Zone A, and now acting Zonal Coordinator, Border Drills sector 4, Kaduna, overseeing the anti-smuggling operations in the north western states of Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara, and his Team, were said to have intercepted 1,713 bundles of China manufactured textiles and 5,400 ‘’25’’ bags of Foreign par boiled rice Concealed in a local bag during one of the sector 4 operations in the region.
The question on the lips of most people was why the Border Drill sector Team, could not intercept even a ”50” bag of the foreign parboiled that are found in various markets in major cities in the region?. It is either the Customs Zonal Coordinator and his boys have bowed to pressure not disturb the VIP rice smugglers in the region or may not have come into contact with any of them.
Note that the Border Drill sector 4 Zonal Coordinator and his boys were said to have also made a seizure of 9,735 bags of Foreign Fertilizer 15-15 NPK . The seized Foreign Fertilizer was said to have been smuggled into the country without the Manufacturer’s address for easy location or the expiry date of the product.
Maritime analysts noted that but for the intervention of the Border Drills sector 4 , Patrol Teams, bursting the racket, the smugglers and their sponsors could have pushed the Foreign Fertilizer alleged to have been manufactured in China into the Nigerian market for desperate Nigerians to buy.
The Border Drill sector 4, Team were said to have also intercepted 4 million litres of Petrol. This is in addition to the seizure of the West African country of Ghana grown Cannabis Sativa, popular, Indian Hemp, which was said to have been handed over to the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, for further investigation.
Investigations shows that the Border Drill sector 4 , seizures within the north west region were made between January ,2020 and now, notwithstanding the COVID 19, pandemic. Insider sources put the estimated Duty Paid value of the Border 4 , seized Contraband at N3.2 billion.
Muhammed, the Border Drill, sector 4, Zonal Coordinator reportedly confirmed that eight suspects were nabbed in connection with the seized items and would be dragged to Court as a deterrence to smugglers across the region. There is gainsaying the fact that the seized Contraband that were y the Team within the period under review were transit cargoes from Cotonou Terminal and Bollore port in Benin Republic, meant for the Nigerien market which developed wings on the road.