FOU: Era of Bullet Proof and Donkey skin Seizures

By Stephen Ubanna

Mohammed Aliyu, Comptroller , Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, described as a fearless  anti-smuggling officer, appears to have thrown spanners in the work of the rich in Lagos, forcing many of them to cry out for help that would never come.

For years these” novae  de rich”  have been involved in smuggling bullet proof and other  exotic  vehicles from Republic of Benin into the country without payment of duty. The situation was so bad between late last year  and March 2019, that the Command made fifteen bullet proof vehicles which were handed over to Mohammed Mungono, a retired Major General  and the National Security Adviser, NSA. The  bullet proof vehicles were seized because the importers may have smuggled it into the country  from the  Republic of Benin as they could not produce the  relevant permit documents from the NSA office when confronted by the patrol team of the Command Operations and Lagos Roving team Headed by Riks Lura, a Chief  Superintendent  of Customs, CSC, regarded in Customs circles  as  a fearless and no nonsense anti-smuggling officer who is ready to broke into any place where prohibited smuggled items were hidden . He did at FOU, Zone C, under Muhammed Uba Garba , the Area Comptroller who may have  spotted– him out.

With the backing of  Aliyu, the Area Comptroller  at FOU, Zone A, he has dared the rich who believe that they could smuggle bullet proof  vehicles into the country  without going through the office of the NSA to obtain the necessary permits.  A senior Customs officer who spoke to The Value News said these novae  ‘de rich are rich to smuggle the bullet proof or any other exotic vehicle into the country but they should wait for Aliyu, who would not hesitate to send out the Command Operations and Lagos Roving team  to go after them.

CSC. Riks Lura: Giving Exotic Vehicle Smugglers Tough Time With The Support of Compt. Aliyu

I strategise before sending out any on any operations  in any part of the  south western states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Eki and Ondo. It was not surprising why the Riks led Operations and Lagos Roving team could  break into any premises  in Lagos on suspicion  that smuggled  exotic vehicles  were kept.

The Value News   cited  about ten of such  exotic vehicles including a bullet proof of 1919 model  last  Tuesday at the Command premises, Ikeja. There are indications that the detained exotic vehicles may be more than  the numbers as some are parked  behind the back of the office Complex and at the workshop turned Government warehouse.

 The Magazine learnt the   bullet proof vehicle was collected a private residential  building where the smuggler  had kept it based on intelligence.  The question on the lips of most was how  someone could spend millions of Naira to buy a bullet proof or any  other exotic vehicles from  Republic of Benin, but would not want  to import it through Five Star Terminal, one of the terminals dedicated for vehicle imports  or Port Multi-services Terminal limited , PTML, and pay the relevant duties. 

The owner of the 1919 model bullet proof  , according to sources was said to have been shuttling between Abuja and Lagos  to reach out to his contacts in the Presidency to force Hameed  Ali, a retired   Army Colonel and  Comptroller General , Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, to give the nod to  the Comptroller to release the bullet proof to him. It was learnt  on his part he has made several attempts to  reach out to Aliyu, the Command Area, who would  not hesitate to arrest him if he dares come to his office to solicit for the release of the vehicle.

Perhaps, one area, that   the FOU, Zone A, Customs Comptroller  has made  an appreciable impact in the recent time was  the seizure of donkey skins earmarked for export to the Chinese market . Note that for years, Chinese donkey skin  agents  who established contacts with dealers in the south west and other parts of the country without  the Customs personnel  at the seaports intercepting any of the cargoes. Aliyu , the FOU, Zone A, Customs Comptroller, may have opened the eye of his counterparts at the seaports about the trade in donkey skin in the  country  that they now look with suspicion export cargoes to  the Asian country of China.

Note that last May the Command impounded  two ”20” Container load of donkey skin, at Okota axis , in Alimosho local government area of Lagos state. The two ”20” Containers was said to have loaded with 100, 000 pieces of the  donkey skin , which Valuation experts put at about N15 billion. Another major  seizure  was an  alleged ”40” Container  of donkey skin  in a warehouse owned by a Chinese  Company in an undisclosed location  in Ibadan, Oyo state. Only recently,  the Command was said to had made an additional  3,800 pieces of donkey skin in Ogun state.  

Muhammed ,the  Seme Customs  Comptroller may  have known that  since the rich have taken over the business of dealing  with the Chinese donkey skin buyers,  the dealers may  want to open a channel of smuggling the prohibited  animal skin to Republic  of Benin to sell to their Chinese Customers who may have made  the necessary arrangement to export it it the port of Cotonou that he has tightened up security at Seme-Krake Joint and the neibouring Communities around the Border, Owode outstation and Badagry axis . He has also beamed his search light at the Creeks around the Border axis  to ensure that the donkey skin dealers could not beat his men to it.

In a related development, giving that all the various patrol teams of the FOU, Zone A, are now making seizures of foreign parboiled rice,  Aliyu, the Area, Comptroller , who had earlier  set up an anti-rice and petroleum product smuggling teams was said to have found reasons to dissolve the teams.

An officer who confided on the Magazine that the dissolution of the two teams, which were stationed  at Gbaji and Idiroko axis  have brought relief to the resident officers. The officer disclosed that it has   restored dignity and respect  to the Command  officers at the Borders.  This is because once a vehicle plying the Boder, particular, Seme, were flagged for the normal   routine check  members of the two teams would rush  looking out for rice. They ran into trouble when of the anti-rice team members molested an Air Force officer for carrying rice in the both of his vehicle.

In anger, the officer was said to have  mobilised his Colleagues to the Gbaji  Check point, forcing the Customs personnel on duty to flee. It took the intervention of  Adahunse Rashid, a Deputy Comptroller, Enforcement, who quickly reached out to Aliyu, the FOU, Zone a, Comptroller, for peace to be restored in the area.  

Perhaps, this may have informed the reason why the FOU, Zone A, Customs Comptroller , has no option but to dissolve the teams because of the persistent complaints against them.

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