By Stephen Ubanna
Not many people had expected the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, patrol teams across the country to make any appreciable impact in the on-going smuggling war across the country. This is because of the activities of the Comptroller General of Customs, CCG’s Strike Force, and the newly created Border Drills. The Border Drills, approved by President Muhammadu Buhari. Note that Border Drills security operatives Comprising of Officers and men from the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, as the lead agency, Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, the military Police, Department of State Security , DSS and Directorate of Military Intelligence, DIM have been deployed to Borders in four geographical Zones across the country: south west, south, north central and north west..
In the south west,, the FOU, Zone A, under the close watch of Mohammed Aliyu, a Customs Comptroller, has proved that neither the CGC Strike Force nor the Border Drills personel could top them from taking the anti-smuggling war to the smugglers’ den and making spectacular seizures. Investigations by The Value News shows that between August and September, 2019, that the Border Drills personnel took over the Borders in the south west, the Command has made more seizures of foreign processed Vegetable Oil and Parboiled rice, produce from the Asian country of Thailand than ny other time.
Insiders informed the Magazine that the Border Drills personnel who may not have understood the terrain of the south west very well may have provided the Opportunity for the Command Operations and Lagos Roving Team, Headed by Riks Lura, a Chief Super intent of Customs, CSC, and other Teams set up by Aliyu, the Comptroller to to restrategise and reposition their men for the challenges ahead.
Recall, that the Magazine had recently published a story showing how the Riks Headed Team , alone, had turned the Command premises into a Car Mart for display of exotic vehicles. As at Wednesday, October 23, 2019, there were two bullet proof and several exotic vehicles on display at the FOU unofficial Car Mart. Most of these exotic vehicles were said to have been intercepted around unapproved Border areas in Ogun state.
Perhaps, the biggest seizures that may have gladdened the heart of ALiyu, the Customs Area Comptroller was that his Operations and Lagos Roving Team personnel and the other Teams are competing to make seizure of goods. This is evident going by the thousands of 25 Kg jerry cans of processed Vegetable Oil deposited in the Ikeje Government War house run by the Command.
Aliyu, the Command Area Comptroller had confirmed that 5,117 Kegs of the item was intercepted in different parts of the south west geo-political region during the period. The Value of the prohibited items, according to Valuation experts was about N61.4o4 million.
Another major seizure of the Command patrol teams in Ogun and the other states in the south west geo-political region was Foreign par boiled rice, produced by farmers in the Asian country of Thailand. The value of the foreign parboiled rice was put at about N68.4 million.
The question on the lips of most people is: how did these items which the government said should not enter into the country through the land Border found their way into the country, let alone to fall into the waiting hands of the FOU Zone A, Operations and Lagos Roving Team Officers, the Command Strike Force team Headed by one Superintendent Ahmed and other teams.
The worry of many was that the FOU, Zone A , Teams and the other Teams have made these seizures of Vegetable Oil and foreign rpar boiled rice, despite the tight security mounted at the Border areas across the region by the Border Drills security Operatives.
Yusuf Bello, an indigene of Owode town in Ogun, told the Value that it would be difficult for the Border Drills security Operatives to effectively Cage the smugglers of these foreign Agricultural products because of the new strategies they have devised after studying the Border Drills security operatives operations in different parts of the region and how to penetrate their ranks to beat them to it in their game plan.
Bello noted that in fairness to Seme /Krke Joint Border, between Nigeria and Republic of Benin, where all eyes are focused including government officials and security personnel, have focused their attention as the major route in the south west used by the smugglers may have made a big mistake. The Owode born trader disclosed that it would be very difficult for smugglers to dare the Seme Border to carry out their nefarious activities because’’ it is one route Border to enter into Lagos ‘’.. He disclosed that the situation in Idiroko and Ilaro axis in Ogun state are different as there are several illegal entry points used by smugglers to carry out their nefarious trade to enter into the Lagos market: through the forest , or the Creeks, through which they burst out on the road, to take their smuggled items to the designated location from where the Customers cart them away their l shops and warehouses .
Note that in Ogun state alone, there over 80 illegal routes and several Creeks that could be used by the smugglers to practice their trade which are not known to Customs personnel or the Border Drills personnel.
Investigation by The Value News shows that most of the 25Kegs of Vegetable Oil and Foreign parboiled rice which had entered the Lagos market in the recent time are from Ogun state. The Magazine findings shows that the smugglers who have a way of taking their smuggled Vegetable Oil and Foreign rice into the Lagos markets , have a way of taking the cargoes through the Ogun Creeks to Iyana Isasi and Agbara Creeks , beating the Border Drills, FOU, Zone A, and the CGC Strike Force personnel who have concentrated their efforts in mounting impregnable for them at Gbaji Check point.
Admitted that the Vegetable and foreign parboiled rice smugglers could beat the Border Drills, Strike Force and FOU, Zone A, Teams , at the Checkpoint, Riks, the FOU, Zone A, Head of Operations and Lagos Roving Team , who appears to have known the operational tactics of the waterways smugglers while in Ogun state, Heading one of the FOU, Zone A, anti-smuggling Teams, in Ogun was said to have mobilised his men to show the smugglers the smugglers the Stuff the Team is made of to beat them in their game.
Recall that the FOU Zone A, fearless office had at one time seized a ship load of rice at Iyana Isasi. He was also said to have also led The team that made a shpi load of rice seizure at Oyingbo within the Lagos waterways. This may have informed the reason why much of the Vegetable and foreign rice seized by the Command various patrol Teams between August and September were made by the Team alone.
Besides , the large quantities of ‘’25’’ of Vegetable Oil and ‘’50’’ bags of rice seized by the FOU, Zone A, patrol Teams to make their Comptroller happy in the last two months, there were said to be other items seized by the Teams such as Pharmaceutical products, about 339 cartons, loaded in a Container allegedly released from the sea port which fell into the waiting hands of Riks boys on the road, usd bags, used shoes, used clothing and poultry products. An elated Aliyu while showcasing the items to some selected Journalists, not The Value News, claimed that the value of the seized items made by the Command within the period was abot N314.5 million. The Comptroller also confirmed that the Command collected N104.46 million as revenue for the government through issuance of Demand Notice, DN, to importers with their Agents whose intercepted Containers released from the seaport which had contravened the government fiscal policy, thus bringing the total amount of money generated by the Command to about N419 million in two months alone. The revenue generated by the Command through DN, should gladden the heart of Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, NCS, because, this is money that could have entered into private pockets.