By Stephen Ubanna
With the tight security checkpoinst being mounted by the various Federal Operations Units, FOUs, Comptroller General of Customs, CGC, Strike Force, and Border Drills, across the country, to curtail the activities of arms and other Contraband, VIP, smugglers they are still finding way into the Nigerian markets but the Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Customs Comptroller General Patrol Teams, are not giving them a breather.
The VIP smugglers who may had escaped the eagle eye of the anti-smuggling officers in the south west states of Ogun, Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti andondo, with their Contraband, particular, arms and Foreign par boiled rice from the neighbouring West African country of Republic of Benin from the Ogun into Nigeria may have suddenly realised that there is no hiding place for them any longer.
This is evident with the recent of 550 Pump Action gun Carteridges around Adikpo junction, in the north central state of Benue, where Samuel Ortom, a former minister of state , Industries, Trade and Investment , during Goodluck Jonathan Administration and now governor of the north central state is having a running battle with the armed herdsmen.
The VIP smuggler, who had parked the cateridges in two black Bacco sacks neatly loaded into a J-5 vehicle, may have settled the driver of the bus, who may not have the handwriting on the wall that the beating of the drum has changed , meaning that the dancing step has to change as well.
The Driver who may have escaped the eagle eye of Customs and security agencies personnel on the road between Ogun or Oyo, Anambra, Cross river and entered Benue state without proper check of their bus. However, the arm smuggler and the driver knew that the game was up when their vehicle was stopped at Adikpo Junction by a Patrol Team of the of the Joint Boder Drills, sector 3, with its operational base in Ilorin capital of , Kwara state.
Acting on information, the Border Drill Patrol Team, had flagged down the vehicle at Adikpo junction for routine search. Intially , the Driver had hesitated to stop insisting that it was a Passenger bus coming from Anambra, south east Nigeria and heading to Taraba . Note that the Border Drill sector 3, which was popularised by Mohammed Uba Garba, now an Assistant Comptroller General, overseeing the Nigerian Customs Ser=vice, Kadunal Zonal Office, oversees the Team activities in the entire north central comprising of Kwara, Kogi, Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and Niger.
Any eyewitness account informed The Value News, that the Driver had tried to Compromise the officers but got it wrong. This is because the Patrol Team officers succeeded in searching the vehicle which was found to have been loaded with arms in two Bacco sacks.
The discovery of the arms in the J5, during search may have encouraged the Border Drills sector Patrol Team Leader and his officers to arrest the Driver and the VIP smuggler with his ammunition. They were said to have been taken to the Ilorin, the Border Drill sector 3, Headequarters, for further interrogation.
An elated Comptroller Olugboyega Peters, National Coordinator of the Border Drills sector 3, had said that the Patrol Team had acted on ‘’intelligence report to stop the J5 bus, around the Adikpo junction in Benue state . The Customs Comptroller had said that the seizure of the ammunition is a message to the arms smuggler who think they can flood the north central market sate with illegal arms to escalate the banditry in the state , stressing that ‘’there is no hiding place for them’’.
Appealing to the smugglers and their Commercial bus Collaborators, Collaborators to desist from sabotaging the nation’s economy, the Customs Comptroller, has ‘’warned those who are determined to use the Yuletide to make cheap money by introducing harmful products, particular arms and drugs into the north central geopoitical region to watch it as it is no longer going to be business as usual.
He has his reason. This is because his Patrol Team officers have continued ‘’to dominate the region with aggressive Patrols. Comptroller Peters has given his words to ‘’to ensure that smuggling activities and all those who abet and aid smuggling of Contraband into the region are brought to book’’. Last September, the Customs FOU, Zone, under the close watch of Deputy Comptroller Kehinde Hussaini Ejibunu, Patrol Team, had intercepted live cateridges concealed in bag of cassava flour or garri. The drivers of the three Mazda saloon cars loaded with the bags of garri concealed with the cartridges were said to have abandoned their cars on sighting FOU, personnel and escape into the bush to escape arrest, giving the Customs Patrol Team, to take over control of the vehicles, which were driven to their Ikeja office.
Security experts had said that the interception of the 550 Pump Action cateridges Bacco sacks coming from Anambra state and heading to Taraba state, where banditry has taken a turn for the worse should encourage President Muhammadu Buhari, to take seriously the plea by Dairus Ishaku, the state governor to establish permanent military bases at Taraba’s borders with Cameroon ‘’to prevent further Ambazonia attacks of Nigerians and checkmate influx of arms into the country.
Last November the Central African Sub-regional country of Cameroon based Bandits had attacked Takun Local government Area of the state and killed 11 persons including a Traditional Ruler in Manga village. The Taraba governor who is out to frustrate the Bandits to avoid turning the state into another north western states Zamfara, Kaduna, Sokoto and Kastina, Buhari home state, was said to have drawn the attention of the Nigerian President recently at a meeting that though ‘’ the military is stationed in the area for now but what the state needed presently to address the activities of the Cross-Border Bandits in the state would be a Permanent military base and not a make –shift base on the axis of the boundary with Cameroon.
The governor was said to have also requested from the Commander-In-Chief, of the Nigerian Armed Forces during their meeting the establishment of a Naval a base and a Police Station, to effectively monitor the movement of people in and out of the Border Community and to trace the Bandiits to their hideouts.
While Ishaku , the Taraba state governor has joined the ranks of Bello Matawalle, Nasir El-Rufai and Aminu Masari, a former Speaker of House of Representatives, who are governors of Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina , states respectively, to decry the activities of the Bandits Group in their respective states, Abubakar Gummi, a Clergyman man and arch supporter of the Bandits ,and who has been at the Vanguard for government to grant amnesty and give Bandits a soft-landing is sing a new song.
This time , the Clergyman, has said that the only way for the Bandits who are scattered all over the north central sates of Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto and Kebbi, and Niger state, would be to address the issue of social amenities in the country. He noted that what the country needed most’’ to curb the activities of the Bandits is to build homes and schools, giving local animals a breed, giving them medical attention, planning and engaging the Local Community’’.
Giving an insider information of the activities of the Sahel region of Mali, Niger and Cameroon, emerged Bandits, which had escalated into Nigeria, through the Maradi region of Niger, the Clergyman had said that ‘’the Bandits initially started by kidnapping people before they resorted to killing their victims’’.
Perhaps, to score a cheap political point and win sympathizers for the monster that is no killing people in different parts of north west and north central geo-political region, he noted that they resorted’’ to killing people for the pleasure of it’’. He believes that the Bandits were out ‘’to avenge the killing of their family members killed by the military through airstrikes’’. He stated that the Bandits would want to drop their gun and embrace peace if their demands are met.
Many believe that only the likes of Gummi, could say all that and get away , from being invited by security Operatives for questioning to avoid giving room to the Bandits to take advantage of his arrest to wreck more havoc in the country.
Aware that the Department of State Service, DSS, and the National Intelligence Agency, NIA,officials, may be closing in on him because of his close relationship with the armed herdsmen and Bandits group, and his recent utterances which was very revealing, may have informed why the Clergyman has ‘’vowed to stop meeting with them’’ to keep away from trouble.
He had said that he took the bold initiative to distance himself from the group following its recent proscription by a Federal High Court in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and subsequent declaration as terrorist Organisation.