By Elizabeth Eze
For the past three years, anti-smuggling officers and men of the Nigerian Customs Service, have stuck out their neck to smoke out smugglers and fraudulent agents from their hideouts across the country to make spectacular seizures.
The Value News learnt it was one of the Federal Operations Zone C, patrol teams, Owerri, Imo state, when Muhammed Uba Garba, was the area Comptroller which made the seizure of Tramadol within the jurisdiction that sensitized other FOU’s across the country including those at the seaports and
Drug seizure, according to a senior Customs officer who spoke to The Value News was enough for Hameed Ali, led Management of the NCS, to approve a rank for all the team members as a way of encouraging them to do more for the Service but they were never Compensated, fueling speculation that the Customs boss may have cared much about the welfare about his anti-smuggling officers who confront smugglers and fraudulent agents to dispossess them of their Contraband goods, thus saving millions of naira for the government.
Mohammed, who is now Comptroller of Seme Command, may have left a functional anti-smuggling structure at FOU, Zone A, which had been improved upon by Mohammed Aliyu, the Command Area Comptroller, with the introduction of an Information Patrol Team headed by one Superintendent Ajao, this has sharpened the anti-smuggling drive of the Command. With Credible intelligence, from Ajao’s team, the Command Operations and Lagos Roving team headed by Riks Lura, a Chief Superintendent f Customs and the Strike Force, headed by one Superintendent. Superintendent Ahmed
Take for instance, the recent interception of seven pallets weighing 42, 412 Kg of unprocessed Hides and Skin at National Cargo Handling Company , NAHCO, scheduled for export. The intercepted item was valued at over N7 billion, the biggest seizure to be by the Riks Patrol team in one operation at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Cargo wing. this is an indictment on Soboikhi J.T., the Area Comptroller and one Caroline, a Deputy Comptroller in-charge of NAHCO Shed and his other officers for allowing such Contraband which fell into the waiting hands of FOU, Zone A, personnel to pass through the terminal. The Hides and Skin export may have been in the business for years that he could muster the courage with hope that his Customs collaborators are there at the airport to facilitate the loading of the item into the cargo aircraft but luck ran out of him .
An official of the Command who spoke to The Value News disclosed that the MMIA Area Comptroller had made all the necessary arrangement to stop the cargo export when he got wand of it but was overtaken by Aliyu’s men from FOU, Zone A, who were said to have claimed that they have a superior Order from the Headquarters to stop the export of the export of the seven pallets of the Hides and Skin. This may have given way to the Riks led patrol team to take away the cargo the Command Mechanical Workshop turned warehouse.
Note that the Riks led Operations and Lagos Roving team were said to have made the highest seizure of bullet Proof vehicles between last year and now. The team was said to have intercepted 20 bullet proof vehicles without the approval of the office of the National Security Adviser, NSA.
Many believe that it takes courage to stop a big man who is well fortified with security escorts to come down from such an exotic car and him to join another vehicle while the bullet proof is taken to the Command premises and detained. The team , according sources were said to have also made scores of other exotic vehicles. The largest quantities of Codeine, a prohibited drug were made by the team last year.
The same spirit propelling the Riks team into the jungle war with smugglers in the south west may have the Ahmed led Strike Force, which is a product of the Riks team to make things difficult for the jungle smugglers in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo,Osun , Ondo and Ekiti states. Ahmed and his team may have successfully caged smugglers because of his aggressive looks. The team was said to have made several exotic vehicles including thousands of 50Kg bags of foreign parboiled rice. He may not have been overwhelmed by the over 80 illegal Border routes in Ogun state because of a team of committed officers working with him. The recent interception of a vehicle along the Ijebu -Ode -Benin High loaded with bales of Fake police Camouflage , Cans of teargas, Police Sergeant badges, Identity Cards of unnamed Police Inspectors and Sergeants including short Cutlasses, ahead of the 2019 general elections speaks volume.
Maritime analysts believe that the Spectacular seizures made by this FOU, Zone Patrol teams was enough for Ali, to have given them enhanced promotion long ago to do more. Even the monthly award initiated by the Command Area Comptroller over performance was said to have regularly been clinched by the trio. They believe that the World Customs Organisation , WCO,anti-smuggling Award which was given to Aliyu and the trio over their successful anti-smuggling operations last year was not enough but to move them and their team members to their. next rank.
Recall, that Abdullahi Dikko, a former Comptroller General of the NCS, had promoted Abdullahi Kirawa , now a Deputy Comptroller and Coordinator of the Headquarters’ Strike Force, from a rank of a Chief Superintendent to Assistant Comptroller, when he led an FOU, Zone A, Patrol team that made a shipload f rice from the Creeks due to be smuggled into Nigeria. Adamu Mohammed, a former Assistant Comptroller and Head of the FOU, Zone , Lagos Roving and the team members who made a cache of arms in Lagos were said to have been promoted to the next rank last year. Mohammed, was promoted to the enviable rank of a Deputy Comptroller is now overseeing the Enforcement Unit at Western Marine Command where he has made smuggling of rice through the water ways a nightmare despite the inadequacy of functional crafts patrol its areas of jurisdictions
A senior officer who spoke to The Value News at Abuja, said the Cabal in the management are hesitant to support to support Ali, the Comptroller General to reward these hard working anti-smugglings officers who risk their lives to confront smugglers squarely with new promotion because their boys may not be beneficiaries. Insiders informed The Value News that if the promotion issue is within his powers, Aliyu , the Area, would have decorated the trio and their team members long. The monthly commendation letter and hand handover of giant trophies to each of them speaks volume.