Promotion : At Last Customs Board Approves Senior Officers Promotion list, After One Year Of Keeping The Officers In The Dark

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.

Hameed Ali : CG Customs, Put Smiles On The Face Of Officers.

  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.

Shuaibu: Promoted from AC To DC

 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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