Customs: Border Drill, My Scorecard

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.  

Muhammed: Acting Zonal Coordinator, Border Drill Sector 3

 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.

Border Drill sector 3, Intercepted Smuggled Foreign Rice

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.

AA. Mohammed: Zonal Coordinator, Border Drill, Sector 4

 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.

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