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Customs: Why It Is Difficult For Smugglers To Thrive At Seme As Muhammed Detains 55 Vehicles In Two Months

By Elizabeth Chukwuma

 When Ababukar Aliyu, no relations of Aliyu Mohammed, Comptroller, Federal Operations Unit, FOU,  Zone A, tweeted that Customs anti-smuggling officers,  , particular those  at Seme Command, a border Community, between Nigeria and the French speaking country of Republic of Benin,  are passing smuggled fairly  used  vehicles by collecting gratification of between N50,000.00 and n100,000.00,on each, depending on the model and year of manufacture, not many  people took him serious but the social media latched on it as a scoop.

  This is because of his pedigree as a mischief maker who was said to have made several  attempts  in the past to penetrate the ranks of the officers of the  Command including the Border Drills security Operatives to perpetuate his nefarious Activities  but no luck.

 Security watchers believe that it is very difficult for any vehicle smuggler to pass through the Gbaji Check point   where the Seme, FOU,Zone A, CGC, Strike Force and the newly inaugurated Border Drills Congregate to screen vehicles passing through the Lagos-Seme road  .

 Note that since the  closure of the land Borders with the neighbouring Republic of Benin, Niger, Tchad and the Central African country of Cameroon, on August 23, 2019, the Seme Command  with its strong network of informants and good working relationships with the  Community leaders  were said to  have intercepted and detained  55 fairly used vehicles. This is in addition to the thousands of ”0” bag of par boiled rice from the Asian country of Thailand.

The seme Customs Comptroller who takes strong exception  to officers abusing their position was said to have made it clear on assumption of duties at the command in 2018, that any officer caught In the act would be summarily dealt with. It was not surprising why  he could not brush over the Aliyu tweet alleging that ani-smuggling officers from the Command are sing their position to make cheap money  by allowing smuggled fairly used vehicles  to enter into the country.

The Customs Comptroller was said to  have sent out an  under- cover Teams on a preliminary investigation  to Gbaji, Agbara checkpoints and other locations where the Command  has temporary checkpoints.  The officers were said to have carried out their special assignment as directed by the Area Comptroller without disclosing their identity to anyone to avoid disrupting their operations.

Hameed Ali: CG, Customs

The report of the undercover officers  about the conduct of the of the patrol Teams speaks volume.’’ There was no iota of truth  about the   allegations against the officers who were said to be thorough in their job.  This may  have informed why Hussani Abdullahi Onawo, an Assistant Superintendent of Customs and the Command  Spokesperson  had   described the Aliyu’s tweet as ‘’ not only baseless but unfounded’’.

The Seme  Customs Spokesperson was said to have made it clear to those that cares to listen that’ ‘’no amount of blackmail by aggrieved persons who may have lost their smuggled vehicles to Customs, ‘’ would ever stop or frustrate the Command anti-smuggling  officers from doing their work of checkmating the cross-border smugglers’’ .

Appealing to the general public,particular, the Social Media  he urged them to  investigate their facts  before going to the press, insisting that  it would not be in the interest of the nation for  the Media to be used  by blackmailers  to ‘’dampen the of morale of officers’’ . He noted that these are officers who have laid their life working  under rain and sun  on a daily basis  on the road, bush and the Creeks to checkmate the activities of these economic saboteurs and their sponsors  who are spread all over the country.

There are indications that the said  Aliyu who had laid the serious allegations against the Customs, particular, the Seme Command,  may have opted to fight  back   because it was either his smuggled vehicle or the one given out to a Cross –border  agent to fly it into the country  through an  unapproved route had fallen  into  Muhammed’s anti-smuggling officers’ hand.

Bu, Aliyu, and others like  him have no cause to worry. This is because  Hameed Ali, a retired  Army and ComptrollerGeneral, Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, may had soft pedal on his hardline position of seizing  such intercepted  smuggled vehicles. He was said to have  taken advantage  of  President Muhammadu Buhari’s riot Act to the revenue generating agencies to step up their revenue drive to meet their yearly targets  in order to get a bonus or fall short of the revenue expectation and  be punished for it.

Perhaps to give the  owners of the  impounded vehicles , an opportunity to recover it from the Service , he was aid to have set  up a Customs Revenue anti-Recovery Committee in FOU offices in Lagos, Kaduna, Owerri and Bauchi to handle such exercise. At the  FOU, Zone A, Lagos,  south west Nigeria, which is under the close watch of Aliyu, Ali Ibrahim, a Deputy Comptroller  who is in-charge of the Command’s Enforcement  Unit was said to be the Chairman of the  Committee.

Muhammed Uba Garba: Comptroller, Seme Command

Indeed, Abubakar Aliyu and others like him whose vehicles may have been  intercepted in the bush,  Owode axis or on the  Lagos –Seme  road   and detained at the  Command premises have another opportunity of recovering it by  approaching  the nearest  FOU, with their   relevant documents to pay the  Demand Notice , DN, that may be raised by the Committee.

The Seme Command Spoke person also  said that much. ‘’The  service has ‘’introduced some palliative measures  to help those whose vehicles were impounded and detained  and are willing  to pay the duty.

A visitor to seme border Community in the recent time told The Magazine   that  it has become very difficult for vehicle smugglers to thrive at the Seme border Community because of the tight security

. Recall that the Katsina state born Nigerian President had banned the importation  of fairly used vehicles and foreign rice into the country  through the land border  with the neighbouring countries On January 1, 2017.

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