Unrepentant smugglers in the south west states of Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, and Ondo and Fraudulent agents at the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tincan Island, Port Multi-services Terminal Limited, PTML, Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, KLT PhasesI&&II, would never forget Usman Yahaya, a Deputy Comptroller and acting Area Comptroller, Federal Operations ,Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos ,in hurry 2020.
This is because of the bold anti-smuggling strategies initiated during the year which caught many of the Ogun and Oyo state based foreign rice and vehicle smugglers operating Nigerian and Benin Republic unawares. The resultant effect was that may of the smugglers lost thousands of bags of foreign par boiled rice , worth millions of naira including vehicles to Yahaya’s men who were strategically positioned at the various south west states Border Communities, using the services of informants.
A Statement by Theophilus Duniya, a Deputy Superintendent of Customs and the Command Spokesperson , confirmed that Command impounded 31,129 bags of the Asian country of Thailand par-boiled rice, of 5Kg each, which was bad news to the foreign importers using Benin port, Cotonou and Bollore port, in Benin Republic to take delivery of their bulk cargo imports which included rice.
Within the period under review, the Yahaya anti-smuggling officers , spread throughout the six south west states of the Federation were said to have also intercepted 9,801 Kegs of 25 litres each of Vegetable Oil, 1,290 cartons , of poultry products, and 3,526 Kg. of the West African country of Ghana grown India hemp, This is in addition to 560 units of used vehicles. Recall that 34 of the 560 used vehicles, were made one single operations at Ido-Eruwa road, Ibadan, Oyo state Capital led by Jack,Okpabi, Assistant Comptroller tbased on credible information. The Duty Paid Value, DPV, of the 34 vehicles, was put at about 10 billion alone.
This is in addition to 24,612 pieces of used tyres and several other Contrabands smuggled, into the country from the West African country of Benin Republic. Valuation experts had put the total DPV, of ALL the seized goods from the smugglers at about N21 billion.
It is instructive to note that not all transit goods are treated as Contrband and subsequently delayed from reaching the importer’s destination on schedule . That much was confirmed by Yhaya, the FOU, Zone A, Comptroller. He had said that ‘’no Consignment or goods on transit can be unjustifiably delayed on the road by the officers when they Complied with the extant guidelines on the procedure of imports and exports clearance. He may have gladdened the heart of importers with their Clearing agents when he said that the Command personnel are ‘’totally Committed to the course of facilitating legitimate trade’’.
Perhaps, one group that would never forget the Command Operations and Lagos Roving Team, headed by Jack Okpabi, an Assistant Comptroller, who replaced Riks Lura, a Chief of Superintendent of Customs , now retired are the Lagos based fraudulent importers with their agents and Customs Collaborators. Lura, was said to have laid a solid Foundation for Assistant Comptroller Jack and the Team members to follow. They were said to have cashed to intercept more Conttainerised cargoes released from the Lagos ports. Informed sources told The Value News that most of the Containers load of goods were intercepted between the ports the bonded terminals in different parts of Lagos over alleged under declaration, Concealment , Wrong Classification and underpayment and subsequently transferred to the Command premises at Ikeja, for re-examination.
The Value News Magazine gathered that based on the findings and reports of the examination officers, on the reexamined Container, the files are sent to the Valuation officers to do their valuation which must be sent the Area Comptroller for final approval. Duniya, the Command, spokesperson had said that the guilty importers with their agents were issued Demand Notice , DN, running into millions of naira, which was a fallout of their underpayment. He had said that the Command had recovered the sum of 1.75 billion from the fraudulent importers. This money that should have entered into private accounts but for the interventions of the Yahaya’s Operations and Lagos Roving Team officers , who had beamed their searchlight on the activities at the Lagos seaports and bonded terminals.
The situation was not different from the Comptroller General of Customs, CGC, Strike Force , Team A, Lagos, which has Ahmadu Shuaibu, a Deputy Comptroller as the Coordinator. The Workaholic , CGC Strike Force, Team A, boss, late last year that between January and December 15, 2020, the Team had recovered N2.554 billion lost revenue for the government from fraudulent importers, meaning that if the Team, had waited till December 31, 2020, before making its final calculation on the recovered revenue , it could have been more than the current figure.
The Team could recover that much for the government within the period because the Information Communication Technology , ICT, officers attached to the Team , have at their finger- tips every information on Containers coming into the Lagos port from Asia, particular, China, Europe and the North American country of the Unites, US, and their contents. This may have informed why they knew the importers that had made false declaration and underpayment to recommend it to Coordinator for detention and DN, issued to the importer to pay the outstanding bill.
The Magazine gather gathered the CGC Team A, Coordinator, had repeatedly held talks the Apapa Customs Command APM and the Deputy Comptrollers overseeing Valuation, Vehicle Seat and Heads of Units and terminal Heads at the Command including, the Assistant Comptrollers , who are the releasing officers and officers in-charge of the exit gates to ensure that the right things are done to avoid running into trouble. He could do that because of the information available to him which shows that there are many things wrong at the Comptroller Mohammed Abba- Kura, controlled Command, which needed to be put right.
A senior Customs officer who spoke to The Magazine that since shuaibu, the CGC, Team A, started holding talks with the Apapa Command officers, it has begun to yield fruit as the officers have taken up with importers with their agents, insiting that the right thing must be done, which had increased the level of Compliance to the extant import and export procedures.