Ali Rejigs The Customs Strike Force As Fear Grips Fraudulent Importers With Their Agents And Smugglers

By Stphen Ubanna

Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, appears to have taken importers and smugglers operating in the south west, north west and south east   unaware with the redeployment of Zonal Coordinators of the Customs Strike Force, controlled from  his office.

Muhammed Buhari, no relations of President Muhammadu Buhari, a Brigadier General and Principal Staff Officer, PSO, of the Customs Comptroller  General who was said to have issued a Statement concerning the dissolution of the  present  Comptroller General Strike Force Squad  across the country instead of Joseph Attah, a Deputy Comptroller and the Service Spokesperson. Buhari had confirmed that Ali had dissolved  the present Customs Strike Force’’ as Constituted.   The Brigadier General disclosed that  Ahmadu Shaibu, a Deputy Comptroller is the new Coordinator  of the Lagos Zonal office of the StrikeForce while one Sarumi, an Assistant  Comptroller would oversee the Strike Force  Zonal office operations.

The deployment of the former  CGC  Strike Force Coordinators  was said to have also affected the Kaduna and Owerri , Zonal offices. Olorukooba, who is also a Deputy Comptroller, was said to have been redeployed  to the Kauna Zonal office or Zone B, while Amairi, an Assistant Comptroller would be in-chrge of Operations . M.A. Yusuf, another recommended Deputy Comptroller for the reconstituted CGC Strike Force was said to have been redeployed to the PortHarcourt  Zonal  office or Zone C, to be assisted by  EE. Ita, an Assistant Comptroller.   

DC. Ahmadu Shaibu Being Decorated At Customs Zonal Office, PH Some Two Years Ago.

 The  Customs Comptroller General may have taken the bold initiative to rejig  the Zonal offices  of the Strike Force offices across the country to strengthen their Operations  because of the news making the rounds that the officers have Compromised. More worrisome was the Complaints of  aggrieved Ware- House  owners in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve Center that the Strike Force, Enforcement officers, at the instance of Kakudi, a Deputy Comptroller and for  Coordinator of the Zonal office regularly  seal their WareHouse as they were made to pay through their nose to get it reopened.

Even Agents who spoke to The Value News   disclosed that the Lagos Zonal office of the  CGC Strike Force, Enforcement officers   had deviated  from the mandate  of Ali, the Customs Comptroller General to help in trade facilitation. The Agents lamented that the Officers had become   stumbling block  in the clearing process  at the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tin can Island, Port Multi-services Terminal Limited, PTML, and all the various private Bonded Terminals scattered across Lagos state by creating artificial bottlenecks.

 The  Strike Force Patrol  Officers along the ports environment were said to have developed  clinical ways of  forcing Importers with their Agents to pay certain  amount  of money  on ‘’20’’ or ‘’40’’ Containers, released from the terminals over alleged Contravention of the government Fiscal policies, to have a free passage  but some of the Agents were said to have fallen into the waiting hands  of the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, officers  on the road and the Container transferred to the Command premises.   

Live Cateridges Intercepted At a Customs Checkpoint Along Elele-PortHarcourt Road In Rivers state By DC Shaibu And His Men At FOU, Zone C, Owerri

Investigations by The Magazine shows that  the CGC, Lagos Zonal office  Operation officers  were equally enveloped in Compromise , thus leaving the anti-smuggling operations in the six south west states in the hands of the FOU, Zonal A, under the close watch of Usman Yahaya,  Patrol  officers.

 This may have informed why the Customs Comptroller  General  needed an Officer who believes in the vision of the present Management Team had to rid the ports of Fraudulent Importers and give the smugglers  a decisive blow in the south west.It was  therefore, no very  surprising why  Shaibu, a Deputy Comptroller  who was a one-time officer in-charge of Operations at the FOU, Zone C, Owerri, imo state, under the close watch of Kayode Olusemire  but later redeployed to FOU, Zone A , Ikeja,   to Head the Command Administration department was  recommended to him for Consideration.

 A  senior officer who spoke to The Magazine disclosed that Shaibu, had made an appreciable impact at the south east anti-smuggling Operations with his Patrol teams by sanitizing the  ports  and putting the smugglers operating in the region under control  with the support received  from  Olusemire, the Area  Comptrolle,.

  The officer noted that he had  succeeded in chasing out the fraudulent Importers and Agents  operating at the south east ports of Port Harcourt Area 1, Onne and Rivers port, with the frequent interception of their Containers along the Aba –PortHarcourt road that was released from the ports over alleged Concealment or Under-declaration, thus  resulting in under payment of duties, forcing many of them to relocate to the Lagos pots to do their transactions.

 Even  Foreign rice and vehicle smugglers  operating at the south west states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo,Osun and Ekiti  who had escaped the eagle eyed officers of the FOU, Zone A, Enforcement Officers on the road  would not forget their experience with the Customs Deputy Comptroller  in a hurry as their smuggled Contraband from the neighboring West African country of Benin Republic  were said to have ended up at the Government Ware House in Benin City, the Edo state Capital.

Those who were said to have managed to  escape  the eagle eye of the  Command Enforcement Officers along the Lagos Benin or Ondo- Benin road to  enter the south east roads were said to have been disappointed as their goods ended up at the Government WareHouse, Owerri. This may have informed why the Government Ware Houses   in Benin city and Owerri, were always filled to the  brim  with Contraband and the premises  littered with intercepted Containers  and Vehicles.

The smugglers  at the Bakasi and Ikom axis of Cross river state also had Shaibu, who was said to have  led Operations  on several occasions  to contend with. He may have proved to be a  hard nut to Crack with the interception of live ammunition  at a Customs Checkpoint  along the Elele-PortHarcourt  road in the oil –Rivers state. The live ammunition were said to have been Concealed  in a vehicle conveying  goods from  Onitsha , the Anambra state Commercial nerve center  to Port Harcourt .

Given the Orientation that may have  been given to the Enforcement Officers at checkpoints and the patrol Team Officers  on the road to shun Compromise and ensure  that the right things are  done at every point  in time,  may have emboldened the officers at the Elele checkpoint  flag down the vehicle and insist on searching it.

It was gathered  that there were attempts by occupants of the vehicle to hoodwink the Enforcement  Officers  that there  was nothing incriminating in it. They were said to  have attempted to Compromise the Officers but were disappointed.

  The eagle eyed Shaibu’s men  were said to have uncovered  the cartons of live  ammunition during the search on the vehicle and quickly transferred  it  to the Government WareHouse , Owerri for ducumentation.

Many believe that the seizure of the live ammunition  may have boosted the profile of Shaibu, the new Coordinator of the CGC, Lagos Zonal office  as a no nonsense Enforcement Officer. This may have informed why fear has gripped the Lagos  Fraudulent Importers with their agents and the smugglers operating  in the six  south west state that the game is up.

 Described as a strategists in Customs circles who knows the job,  Maritime analysts fear that the FOU, Zone A, Enforcement  officers monopoly of the six  south west states anti-smuggling Operations over the last two years would may have come to an end,  as  Shaibu put down  his plans  into action that  would involve  ejiging the Patrol Teams and telling the Officers the dos and don’ts to fit into the new CGC Strike Force, Lagos Zonal office.  He may have  sent a signal to the Officer to keep away from their old way of doing things to avoid running into his trouble.       

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