By Stephen Ubanna
Barely two weeks after The Value News online published a story, Promotion: A Tale of Two Agencies -Customs and Police, the Customs Board under the Chairmanship of Zainab Ahmed, minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning moved fast to meet with other Board members of the Service to consider and approve the promotion list of the senior officers which had been ready over six months ago.
The outcome of the Board meeting was the approval and release of the promotion list of the senior offices from the rank of Assistant Superintendents to Comptrollers. Not many officers were convinced that the Board had approved the promotion of the promotion list of the senior officers until, Joseph Atta, a Deputy Comptroller and Customs Spokesperson issued a Statement confirming the a promotion list on approval of the Wednesday, November 2019. The release of the promotion brought back smiles on the faces of the officers.
From APAPA, Tin Can, Seme, Port Harcourt Area 1, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja and Zone C, Owerri, to Sokoto/Kebbi/Zamfara Commands, the story was the same: officers filled with joy. At Tin Can Island Command, the officers and Agents were very happy that Murktar Ibrahim, described as a revenue mobiliser in Customs circles got the promotion.
Officers, agents and other security agencies personnel were said to have bombarded his phone with Congratulatory messages. Friends and well – wishers who could make it to his office were aid to have strolled down to have a DC handshake with him. Until his promotion as a DC, Ibrahim, according to sources was always working on his Desk Top ruminating various Customs sites across the globe to ensure values placed on imported cargoes are what Obtains in the exporting nation.
Insiders informed The Value News that the then Assistant Comptroller and Head of the Command Compliance Unit also visits the World Customs Organisation , WCO, and General Agreement for Trade and Tariff, GATT, site, to keep himself abreast with Trade and Tariff matters world wide. This may have informed why he uses the wide knowledge gained from such sites to the benefit of the Customs .
Many believe that both for his wide knowledge on matters of Trade and Tariff, and the support of Abdullahi Musa, popular, MBA, the Area Comptroller, the Tin can Island Command, which is now competing with Apapa, the Premiere Command in revenue collections, could have lost millions of naira over the last nine months. He was said to have punctured all the known trick applied by importers with their Agents to shortchange the government.
Also to his credit , was the fact that he had used his position to block areas of revenue leakage at the Command, that agents dread presenting their Bills of laden to his office for assessment as he would always find fault with it that would warrant the issuance of a DN, that runs into millions of naira .
The Command Valuation officers may have known that DC. Ibrahim could not easily be hoodwinked by any agent as he has on his fingertips the asking price of approved imported cargoes into the country. Importers who were said to have tried to play a fast one would not forget their experience in a hurry because of the DN they got in return.
Not many people are surprised over what Ibrahim had been doing at the Tin can Island Command, Copliance Unit over the last one year having undergone rigorous training on Enforcement, Valuation and Classification of goods, among others under Victor Dimka, who had served as acting Comptroller , Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone, Ikeja, as a Deputy Comptroller, and later Comptrollers of FOU Zone C, Owerri, and Seme Commands but currently Comptroller of Enforcement, at the Customs Headquarters , Abuja.
A senior Customs officer informed the Magazine that the promotion of Ibrahim to the elitist rank of DC may have finally sealed the lips of some of the old Deputy Comptrollers serving at the Command who were said to have been grumbling that an Assistant Comptroller was Heading a sensitive Unit in the Command.
Insiders informed The Magazine that if he was not good, he could not have lasted a day longer than is necessary as Musa, the Area Comptroller, who believes in thoroughness would have replaced him in order to sustain the tempo of revenue generation at the Command. Many believe that he had lasted this long at the Compliance Unit was an indication that he’’ knows the job’’.
Maritime analysts believe that Ibrahim is in the class of Ahmadu Shuaibu, who also got promoted to the enviable rank of DC. Even as an Assistant Comptroller, Shuaibu, according , according to sources, had been saddled with great responsibilities meant for either DCs or Comptrollers, a duty which he was said to have discharged creditably.
Take for instance, as an Assistant Comptroller and Staff officer, Customs Training College, Gwagwalada, Abuja, the Federal capital Territory, FCT, Suleiman, the then Assistant Comptroller General in charge of the College, had relied much on him to get the job done . There was even a time, a source, confided in The Magazine that he took charge of overseeing the College as Abdullahi Dikko, the then Comptroller General of Customs was not in a hurry to deploy an ACG , to take over control of the s College.
He was said to have re-enacted same Administrative Skills at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA,. Which has been upgraded to a Command Headed by a Comptroller. Within the period , he was in-charge of the MMIA, he was said to have developed new sources of revenue for the Command from travellers with luggage, which they were all happy to pay the duty slammed on their luggage without grudge. The fallout was that the monthly revenue generation of the old MMIA, was pushed up the ladder .
Given his Trainings, Shuaibu, according to an insisder is one officer that could easily adapt to any situation. It was not surprising that at FOU, Zone C Owerri,, Kayode Olusemire, the Area Comptroller , did not hesitate in making him the Head of the Command Operations Unit. He was said to have demonstrated that he is a thorough bred Customs officer going by the large quantities of foreign par boiled rice,poultry products and Second hand Clothing and vehicles including Vegetable Oil worth billions of naira that hand continued to be intercepted by the Command Operations and patrol teams within its area of jurisdiction which include Cross river and Edo states. The way officers are Celebrating Ibrahim at Tin can Island Command appeas to the same they are Celebration Shuaibu at FOU, Zone C but with a message from the junior officers: Remember us , Sir. We like working with you.
In giving out the breakdown of the list of Officers promoted, Joseph Atta, a Deputy Comptroller and Customs Spokesperson, disclosed the Customs Board approved 30 DCs to Comptrollers, 115 Assistant Comptrollers to DCs, and only a few CSCs were said to have been promoted to ACs but 43 Superintendents were elevated to CSCs among others. Going by the promotion letters handed out to the beneficiaries of the promotion exercise, it was with immediate effect . Many had expected that the Comptroller General ought to have impressed it on the Board to back date the promotion of the officers be backdated to the time they took the promotion examination and interviews to make more meaning as he did for the junior officer but failed to do so.
Maritime analysts would want the Customs Board to request from the Comptroller general the list of officers who had distinguished themselves in their areas of Operation, particular anti-smuggling Operations and who have made spectacular seizures to be approved for special promotion as was the case in the past
. Investigation by Magazine shows that there are many of such anti-smuggling officers from the FOUs and CGC Strike Force, across the country who have distinguished themselves with their spectacular seizures and who needed to be appreciated by the Board by elevating them to their next Rank as a way of encouraging them to do more.
There are fears in both official and unofficial circles that most of these officers who have laid down their lives to take the anti-smuggling war to the smuggler’s den across the country may be dampened in spirit that the system does not care for them which may slow down the tempo of the customs anti-smuggling war.
Recall that the tramadol seizure in which Assistant Comptroller General, ACG, Abubakar Barsha, who incidentally was a former Comptroller off Apapa Command, was given an integrity award by President Muhammadu Buhari, for allegedly rejecting a N150 million bribe from the cargo owner to allow t him take delivery of it. But the Container load of the tramadol drug which was said to have been impounded by FOU, Zone A, patrol Team officers was said to have executed outside the port. The question on the lips of most people was: how did the Consignment get out of the port and how the issue of rejection of N150 million alleged bribe by the importer come about?
Eyewitness account disclosed that if that if there is any person that should have been Congratulated by the Katsina born Nigerian President for the tramadol seizure and rejection of millions naira bribe m, it should have been Aliyu Mohammed, Comptroller, FOU, Zone A and his Operation officers who worked round the clock to track the tramadol Container released from the Apapa port unde the close watch of Barsha as they were said to have refused to be Comprmised by the importer insisting on the right thing been done.
Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police have always demonstrated that he cares for his Officers by giving Special promotions to Policemen who excel in their duties. Ali, the Customs Comptroller General should not restrict the special promotion only to officers who make arms seizure at the seaports. Analysts would ant him, he should extend it to officers who have also made dangerous drug seizures such as Tramadol , Codeine including and exotic vehicles, donkey skin and Premium Motor Spirit, popular , petrol..
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