By Stephen Ubanna
The last may not have been heard about how Mohammed Aliyu, Comptroller , Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja mobilised the Command Operations and Lagos Roving Team , members, , under the close watch of Riks Lura, a Chief Superintendent of Customs, to make a seizure of 100,000 pieces of dried Donkey Skin , loaded into two ”20” Containers at the Okota axis,of the Alimosho , Local government Area, described as one of the largest local governments , in Lagos state on May14, 2019.
The items, which were impounded by a team, under the Command Operations and Lagos Roving team, on May 14, 2019, which were loaded into two Containers, to the Asian country of China, were valued at about N15 billion, the highest single seizure to be made under any Comptroller in the Command in the last twenty years.
As a prelude to the seizure of the N15 billion worth of donkey skin items, loaded found in two Containers, the team, earlier had seized of about 70 sachets of donkey skin, earmarked for export to China, on May 12, 2019, allegedly within the same axis.
The road to the seizure of the billion naira donkey skins was said to have been prepared by the Command Area Comptroller. The Value News learnt when the informant came to see the Area Comptroller, with the hope of giving out the information to him, he was almost frustrated. It was gathered that some officers had wanted t him to see Usman Yahaya, a Deputy Comptroller , then, Deputy Comptroller, in charge of the Command Enforcement. But the informant , who had earlier reached out to the Comptroller insisted on seeing him.
When he eventually found his way to the Comptroller’s office and opened up on what he saw being loaded into two ”20” Containers in a location at Okota, and how the Command , anti-smuggling officers, could access the area, he Comptroller was very happy with him.
The Customs Comptroller was said to have taken up the matter with Riks, the fearless and rugged anti-smuggling officer , in- charge of the Command Operations and Lagos Roving team , who quickly detailed a patrol which laid an ambush on the location for days.
Note that the Comptroller had kept away the information from Yahaya, who , incidentally had been redeployed to be the Coordinator of the decentralised Comptroller General of Customs, CGC, Strike Force, Zone A, Lagos, which was saddled with the responsibility of over-seeing anti-smuggling Operations in Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo and Osun, the six states in the South west geo-political region.
Another school of thought, however, said the information about the two Containers load of donkey skin was sourced by the officers attached to the Operations and Lagos Roving team and followed it up utill the stage was set to strike.
Maritime watchers believe that if Yahaya, a Deputy Comptroller, in-charge of the Command Enforcement Unit, had such a privileged information, he may have mobilised a Strike Force team to take over the location to pre-tempt FOU, Zone A, Operations and Lagos Roving team , from making the billion naira seizure, which had endeared Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS.
The seizure of the billion naira donkey skin in lagos state, may have opened the flood gate for other patrol teams under the close watch of Aliyu, to hunt for fried donkey skin earmarked for export across the six states in the region.
The teams which are working closely with, Rks, regarded as the ground master in anti-smuggling operations, across the country,, were said to have joined the Operations and Lagos Roving Patrol teams, to block the region, particular , Ogun state which, has over 80 unapproved routes used by smugglers to carry out their nefarious activities as contained in Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, records of illegal Border routes between Nigeria and Republic of Benin.
The fallout was the recent seizure of 400 packs of Codeine, a prohibited pharmaceutical drug , loaded into a truck , around the Ogun state axis by the Riks boys, on patrol. The Codeine seizure by the Operations and Lagos Roving patrol officers , may have encouraged the Ahmed led Strike Force team to go all out for the Codeine smugglers as it made make an additional 200 packs of Codeine seizure , in the state.
There is no gain saying the fact that given the mandate given to Riks and the other anti-smuggling patrol and Surveillance team leaders , to effectively block the land Border Areas in the south west, to ensure that no Contraband enter into the country including foreign parboiled rice and vehicles, the Yahaya led Strike Force i will eventually end up not making any meaningful anti-smuggling impact in the region.