By Stephen Ubanna
When the late Abdullahi Dikko Inde, 61, a former Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, was asked to tender his letter of resignation from office or be sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, in August 2015, many people knew that there was trouble ahead for him.Indeed, he had resigned on August 17, 2015, in order to silence those making several allegations of Corruptions against his six-year in office.
True to the people’s thinking, Ibrahim Magu, a Police Commissioner and the then Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, ECC, had detailed his men to go after him over allegations of Corruption committed while in office. The anti-graft agency had dragged him to a Federal High Court in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, in 2019. The Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, may have also followed the footsteps of the EFCC, to drag the late Customs Comptroller General and two other Deputy Comptroller Generals of Customs to court on a N1.1 Corruption charges.
The legal harassments may have created a psychological problem to him that he was forced to relocate to Dubai, United Arab Emirate, UAE, on retirement from the service in 2015. He was said to stayed in the Arab country for some three to five five and years. The intervention of some powerful Emirs from the north west states, particular, late Muhammadu Kabir Usman, the late Emir of Katsina, Katsina, may have informed why the government gave a soft landing to the late Dikko to return to the country from Dubai. While in Dubai, the agency Operatives were said to have stormed his house in Abuja to search for incriminating documents over the ongoing investigations of some petitions against him .
In spite of the fact that some notable Emirs in the north west had piled up pressure on the Katsina state born Nigerian President to allow the late Dikko return to the country, Magu, the then EFCC, Chairman , on his part , was considering the use of extradition to bring the late Customs Comptroller General back to the country. He may have played into the waiting hands of Magu, the then anti-graft agency boss, when he returned to the country in 2019, as the EFCC, officials intensified the Legal action against him with the intension of convicting him with the available evidence at its disposal.
Note that the EFCC, had recovered 17 exotic vehicles from his house in Kaduna. He may have read the handwriting of the plan of the agency on the wall that he was said to have refunded N1.5 billion to the government but the agency had claimed that it was money from Crime. He had expected that after making the refund and the vehicles that had been taken from his house in Kaduna,, he would regain his freedom. He got it wrong. The EFCC , had continued its legal action against him.
The situation was very worrisome that Nnamdi Dimgba, a Judge of the Abuja Federal High Court, had in November 2019, ordered the EFCC to stop the legal proceedings against Dikko after he was said to have reached a Non- Prosecution agreement with Mallam Abubakar Malami, the minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, AGF. But that was how far the order could go. The case, however, took a new turn in February 2020, when the Court issued a warrant of arrest against him, on the ground that he was not showing up for trial.
Solomon Akuma, his Lawyer, could not take it.He had presented a medical report to the trial Judge to show that his Client had been sick and on admission in London, United Kingdom, UK, which was the main reason why he could not appear in Court to defend the allegations of Corruption charges against him while in office.
Many believe that the EFCC and ICPC, created a deep hole in the former Customs Comptroller General’s heart which had continued to affect him until he died on Thursday, February18, 2021, amidst tears , in customs and agents circles. Industry stakeholders believe that Dikko is one former Customs Comptroller General, whose tenure had a ‘’zero tolerance for Corruption ,’’ as he had insisted on assumption of office in 2009, that the service must constantly review itself ‘’ by weeding out Corrupt men and officers whose activities tarnish the image of the agency’’. The reverse is the case as he as the one being hunted by the EFCC and ICPC, over allegations of Corruption charges while in office.
There is no gainsaying the fact that he may have known about his psychological torture he is going through since he left office in the hands of the then Magu, led EFCC, particular. This is evident going by his Statement in one of his recorded Television interviews about a question on what he would want to be membered for?
In apparent response to the question, he had said, ‘’I want to be remembered as an ordinary Nigerian who has an opportunity to serve his fatherland and I served my country diligently and I want people who I have trained to remember me for somebody as a hardworking Nigerian’’.
Recall that following his appointment in 2009, as the Customs Comptroller General by late President Umaru Yar’adua, he had introduced a six point agenda that would help to transform the service and modernize its operations, give accurate trade information and improve its Logistics processes. He also had in mind that it would broaden inter-agency relationship and security Coordination.
The six point agenda which he had introduced also included capacity building of officers and men, In- formation Commnication technology, ICT, -Maximisation of its e-Customs, Moral rebirth of integrity, enhanced welfare for officers and men , Collaboration with stakeholders and Coordinated Public Relations activities to foster mutual understanding. He had followed the implementation of the six-point agenda to the later.
This may have informed why Usman Kankara Bello, a for retired Comptroller and now Kanwan Katsina, who incidentally is the District Head of Ketare, in Kankara , Local government Area, could describe the late Dikko as the Customs Comptroller General who had ‘’brought lots of changes into the service’’. Bello, a retired Customs Comptroller , cited ‘’the Computerisation activities in the service’’, which stakeholders believed had enhanced the service revenue generation for the government between 2009 and now.
The Kanwan Katsina, who was said to have led a delegation of village heads and other traditional title holders in Ketare district on a Condolence visit to the family of the deceased, noted that the late Dikko, during his tenure ,as the Customs Comptroller General between 2007 and 2015, recorded ‘’tremendous achievement in training and retraining of officers and men of the service as well as enhancing their Welfare’’ . He may have known so much about the ate Dikko, having worked with him for about 30 years and also served as an Area Comptroller, Kano/Jigawa, Command, under him.
The Ketare, district head , who could not hide his feelings had said that ‘’the death of the former Customs helmsman is a great loss to the people of Katsina state and the country in general’’. Sagir Bature, the Sarkin Musawan, Katsina, and the brother of the late Dikko and other family members who were said to have received the Ketare district of Kankara Local government area delegation were said to have prayed ‘’for the reposed of the soul of Abdullahi Dikko and asked Allah to grant the family the fortitude to bear the loss’’.
Recall that the Nigerian President in his Condelence message had ‘’sympathised with the people of Katsina, his hom state , over Dikko’s death’’, despite being instrumental to his psychological problem by sacking him from office ad allowing the EFCC and ICPC, to go after him over alleged Corruption charges.