By Suleiman umaru
Those who think that Muhammed Uba Garba, Seme Command, Area Comptroller or any other Customs Comptroller has powers to auction seized foreign parboiled rice or vehicles , without the approval of Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller general, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, need to have a rethink. Note no customs Comptroller, going by the Customs and Excise Management Act, CEMA, has such powers as their responsibility begins and ends with the seizure of such prohibited items and send the records to the Comptroller General’s office. It is not surprising why security analysts regarded as laughable the two suspicious letters released on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 and Wednesday, August 21, 2019, in the social media which had gone viral that the Seme Command Authorities, under the close watch of Muhammed, have embarked on auctioning seized foreign parboiled rice and vehicles at the Seme/Krake Joint Border between Nigeria and Republic of Benin.
|The fraudsters had impersonnated Muhameed, as making a promise of N80,000 to Nigerian Youths each.The Wednesday letter, which was cited by the Value News reads in part: 1 want to use this little opportunity to empower the Nigerian Youths financially. I am giving a token of Eighty Thousand Naira, N80,000.00 to start up small scale profitable business you wish. The fraudsters may have shot themselves on the leg when they dropped one Charles’ name as the financial Secretary with no fixed address, as the person to be contacted for the money. They were said to have given out a phone number 08159047716, purported to have been given out by the Customs Comptroller to them in order to reach him. The fraudsters, had alleged that the seme Customs boss had requested that the Youths open Accounts : Unity Bank, Sterling Bank and First City Monument Bank, FCMB, to facilitate the transfer of the money. They further claimed that the customs Comptrollergave them a soft landing on how to get the money Note if you don’t have the Banks Account as demanded, you can as a friend call me now on 08159047716. On Tuesday, August 20, 2019, the thieves had released the first damaging letter purported to have emanated from the Comptroller’s office titled : To whom it may Concern, ‘Order for your goods on Credit at a cheaper rate and the goods would be delivered at your destination to convince victims that they have a good deal. They were said to have promised to supply foreign par boiled rice, i-phones and other brands of phone, Laptops, Plasma Television, Gas Cookers and felling used for producing tomato tin and cement at give- away prices to the Customers. Take for instance, a ‘50k bag of foreign parboiled rice was fixed at N6,500.00 and a Bag of Cement at N1,500.00 for the buyers. They may have gladdened the mind of their victims when they promised to supply the items to their respective shops. Given their ulterior motive to fleece victims, they were said to have told,the traders who have declared interest to patronise them after sales you pay back within a short period of time as if the Comptroller was the one making the commitment. Business analysts, who have opportunity of citing the fraudulent letters in the social media believe the thieves were not smart to do a tidy job as their lies could easily be dictated by anyone. Recall that as Comptroller, Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, some two years ago,he was impersonated by fraudsters who want to defraud smugglers whose goods were intercepted by his patrol teams on the road on the guise that Muhammmed , the Comptroller of FOU, had agreed to release the seized goods. It was therefore not surprising why not many people were surprised that he could be impersonated at Seme by these fraudsters ostensibly to commit fraud. According to sources, the fraudulent letters had appeared at a wrong time that Ali, the Customs boss in Collaboration with Mohammed Babadende, Comptroller, Nigerian Immigration Service, and other security agencies including the Department of State Security , DSS and Directorate of Military Intelligence, DIM, at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari, are involved in Joint security Operation tagged , ‘’Ex-Swift Response’’, at the Border Communities with Republic of Benin, Niger, Chad and the Central African country of Cameron, to checkmate the activities of smugglers, who are bent on turning the nation into a dumping ground of foreign rice and other prohibited items. Insiders, told the Magazine that Muhammed or any other Area Comptroller at the Border stations had been relegated to the background by the ACGs appointed to oversee each of the Zones. Take for instance in the south west, Abubakar Amajam, is in-charge and reports directly to the Comptroller General. Abudllahi Kirawa, a Deputy Comptroller and former National Coordinator, Headquarters Strike Force, is the the Officer in-charge of Operations, an indication that the Border Comptrollers, have no role to play under the new National Assignment Coordinated by Babagana Munguno, a retired Major General and National Security Adviser, NSA. The questions on the lips: is where did the youths meet Muhammed to extract the promise from him because there is little or no activities at the Border Areas because of the closure, manned by fierce looking security Operatives.At present , it is even difficult to access Seme Command , let alone see the Comptroller, who according to sources, is seat in his office and attending to files occasionally from the Headquarters while heavily armed soldiers guard the entrance to his office which further exposes the les of the fraudsters. Uche Chukwukadibia, a Nigerian based trader at Cotonou described the ttwo letters released by the frausters to dent the image of the Muhammed, the Seme Customs Comtroller as the ‘’handwork of mischief makers to give an excuse to the Customs Comptroller to replace him’. The fraudsters may have worsened their case as they were said to have also tried to drop the name of Talatu Isa Mario, a Deputy Comptroller General, DCG, of Customs, in-charge of Tariff and Trade as one of those who could be contacted at the Customs Headquarters for the Auctioning exercise. They did not stop there. They were said to have dragged a retired Customs Comptroller,Tariff and Trade and another retired senior officer into the fraud to show how desperate they could be. But those who knew the DCG, or Muhammed, the Seme Customs boss believe the duo are too knowledgeable about the Customs Law that they cannot descend so low to expose themselves to ridicle at the peak of their career. Security watchers believe that Muhammed may have become a target of the fraudsters because he has succeeded in blocking all areas of revenue leakages at Seme Command and making the the Badagry East and West, which is under his jurisdiction, very uncomfortable for smugglers to practice their nefarious trade Amajam, an Assistant Comptroller General, in-charge of the Border drill in the south west Comprising of Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo and Osun states, had admitted that Seme do not have much of the problem of smuggling like idiroko, Ogun, Oyo, Osun or Ekiti axisis. He was said to have told those that cares to listen that smuggling in the Seme/Krake axisis had been reduced to the barest minimum, no thanks to Muhammeed strategic repositioning of the Command anti-smuggling Operations. In apparent reaction to cheap blackmail to dent his image,the no nonsense Muhammed had remained undaunted as he has he has vowed to sustain the efforts to sanitise the Seme International Border, regarded as the busiest Border in African Continent to ensure that smugglers of foreign parboiled, vehicles and other prohibited items including fraudsters do not have their way.|
Appealing to Nigerians, particular, the Youths to disregard the letters circulating in the social media which is the handwork of enemies whose stock in trade is to fleece innocent Nigerians to be careful, he vowed that the Criminal elements would be fished out to face the wrath of the Law as a lesson to others still engaged in duping are going to tracked as a deterrence to others still in the business of duping innocent people.”They are fraudsters’’, he had said. Investigation by The Value News show that the fraudsters, parading themselves as Nigerian Youths , have account in 11 different Banks across the country used in fleecing victims which a sourced disclosed were found to be fake .