Customs: Musa Set A Track Record At Tin-can Island Command In Three Months Despite COVID 19

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By Stephen Ubanna

Not many people had expected Baba Abdullahi Musa, popular, MBA, Comptroller, Tin-can Island, Command, described as a Grade A, Command, in Customs circles, and who was said to have spent most of his years as a senior officer at the Customs Headquarters, working under different Deputy Comptroller Generals Of Customs, Trade and Trade,T&T to make any appreciable impact at the Command . This is because of the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular, COVID 19, Pandemic, and  the high exchange rate which had cut off cargo importation into the country by 50% between March 2020 and now.

 The Pandemic, may have brought out the best in MBA, to initiate measures to enhance trade Facilitation which was said to have paid off. As part of efforts in ensuring that ‘’legitimate trade  are given expeditious attention, he was said to have set up ‘’the Dispute Resolution Committee, DRC, and the Help Desk, which had been rejigged with a mandate  to attend expeditiously ‘’ to all related disputes relating to cargo imports and payment of duties. The Command was said to have also reinvigorated the use of inter-modal transport system, which has to do with the use of barges for cargo movement  in line with global best practices to  the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal, ILT, and other hinter land overtime Container terminals.

  Aware of the drop in importation of cargo through the Tin-can Island port due to the Pandemic and the High Exchange rate, Musa and his Management Team were said to have gone back to the drawing board to block all areas of revenue Leakages to ensure that appropriate duties are paid by the importers with their clearing agents.

Musa: Comptroller, Tin-can-Island Command

Many of the importers with their agents who were used to having been cutting corners in the past may have found it difficult to comply initially  with the stringent measures put in place by the Customs Area Comptroller to comply by avoiding fake declarations, wrong Classifications, Concealment and under-payment but have no option to do so.  This may have informed why the Command made appreciable revenue collection between January and March, 2021, despite the global pandemic and the high cost of exchange rate of the naira to the dollar.

A Statement by Uche  Ejesieme, a Superintendent of Customs and the command spokesperson at the instance of MBA, the Area Comptroller, shows that in the first three months of this year, 2021,  the Command , described as a Grade A, in Customs circles, generated  about N112.7billion

. The Tin-can Island Command Area Comptroller, who could not hide his feelings had said that the revenue collected within the first three months of 2021 was N21.05 billion or 23% higher than the amount collected within the same period in 2020, an indications that the Command had generated N91.65billion during the  period. This may have informed why Musa, could beat his chest that he has succeeded in forcing importers with their agents to be trade compliant and ensure that pay the correct duties for their Consignment without cutting corners.

There are indications that of the N1.2 billion recovered from under-payment, considered in Customs circles as lost money, which could have entered into private pockets by the Comptroller General of Customs, CGC, Strike Force, Team A, which has Ahmadu Shuaibu, a Deputy Comptroller, as the Coordinator in the month of March, 2021, alone, much of the alert for the defaulting importers which had resulted in the collection of the balance under-payment had come from the Premier port, Apapa. It was therefore not surprising why much of the recovered lost revenue had come from the premier port, under the close watch of Yusuf Malanta, who had succeeded Abba-Kura, who is now an Acting Comptroller General of Customs, ACG, Customs’ Headquarters.

Musa was said to have put a structure in place where the Command even gets its own alert on suspected Containers loaded with cargoes which  were alleged to have Contravened  the government Fiscal policy and detain it to avoid getting out of the port and fall into  the waiting  hands of the CGC Strike Force Team A or the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Lagos, under the close watch of Usman Yahaya, a Deputy Comptroller.

Perhaps, to ensure that issues that requires urgent attention at the port are quickly resolved, the officers holding key positions in the Command, were said to have been directed by the Tin-can Island Command Customs Comptroller cum Valuation expert, to take a cue from him by keeping their Lines of Communications open . Moreso, the Comptroller was said to have also made concerted efforts to ensure that the supply chain at the port is not disrupted.           

 Many believe that the Musa led Tin-can Island Command could collect  that much revenue in three months at Tin-can Island pot because he was able to  motivate the officers by living by example  despite   the Pandemic’’ twin threat to lives and means of  livelihood’’ .  He was said to have observed all the safety measures directed by the Presidential Task Force on COVID 19, under the Chairmanship of Boss Mustapha, and who incidentally is the Secretary to the government of the Federation.

A similar directive was said to have been given by the Nigerian Centre for Disease and Control,   NCDC, which has Chikwe Chikwe, as the Director General, in order to achieve the best of the  performance  through the use of the Information Communication Technology, ICT. The officers were said to have followed his steps religiously resulting in the improved revenue collection of the Command within the Three months under review.

Another area where the Command was said to have made appreciable impact at the seaport was in anti-smuggling operations which is the exclusive mandate of the Interventionist Units comprising of the FOU, Zone A, CGC, Strike Force Team A and the Border Drills, Lagos Zonal office.

 The Command may  have achieved results in its anti-smuggling operations  at the Lagos ports in Collaboration with the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, and other sister agencies.   Take for instance the seizure of cocain weighing 43.10Kg, allegedly Concealed  in Raw Bulk Sugar  loaded in a ‘’40’’ Container in MV. SPAR SCORPIO, arriving from the North American country of Brazil, described as one of the major drug routes in the world.

 The detention of the Brazilian vessel and the arrest of 20 persons in connection with the seized drug, may have sent fear in other Drug Courier agents to use the port, which may have given them room to relocate to Apapa port to carry out their nefarious trade but were caught by the gallant NDLEA officers.

. Given the inter-agency relationship at the Lagos ports, the Tin-can Island  Command was had handed over the case file of the suspects and the detained vessel to the NDLEA, which has the no –nonsense , Buba Marwa, a retired Army Brigadier General and Nigeria former Ambassador to South Africa as the Chairman, to go on with their prosecution .  

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