By Nwangwu Uba
Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, appears to have provided a justification for Mohammed Aliyu, Comptroller, Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja, to turn the Command premises to an unofficial cart mart for displaying of detained vehicles .
This is because of the space constraint at the Command Mechanical workshop turned warehouse which was littered with rickety vehicles and Containers overgrown by weeds. The vehicles allegedly displayed at the unofficial car mart are said to be mostly high profile vehicles ranging from Toyota Jeeps, Corolla to other brands of vehicles intercepted from smugglers in the bush in different parts of Ogun state and along the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, thus forcing the rich who had imported the vehicles for use in this year’s yuletide to cry.
Some of importers who were said to have contacted Mohammed, the Command Area Comptroller and Yaya, a Deputy Comptroller in-charge of Enforcement may not have been lucky to take delivery of their vehicle which could have decongested the premises but for the two top officials of the Command that the dealers must produce the relevant documents to show that they paid the relevant duties at the seaport.
Investigations by The Value News Magazine shows that some of the alleged detained exotic vehicles may have been released from either Five Star terminal allegedly owned by Theophilous Danjuma, a retired Army General and former minister of Defense or Port multi-services Terminals limited, another private owned terminal at Tin can Island port . RORO vessels sailing into Tin-can island port in Lagos discharge their vehicles at the terminals.
Riks Lura, a Chief Superintendent of Customs in-charge of the Command Operations and Lagos Roving team and his officers who had been instrumental in making the seizures,were said to have prepared themselves for the anti-smuggling assignment because of their network of intelligence gathering in the south west geo-political region, particular Lagos and Ogun states.
Jerry Attah, an Assistant Superintendent of Customs and the Command Image maker who could not hide his joy at the good work of the Command Operations and Roving Team personnel over the number of exotic vehicles detained in the Command premises told the Magazine, ”you can see there is no space to keep more vehicles in the premises”. At the last count, there are over 50 of such exotic vehicles parked in the premises.
In spite of the space constraint in the Command premises, Riks and his patrol team officers are still transferring more exotic vehicles to the Command. One of the professional drivers attached to the team was cited in the premises last Monday repacking some of the vehicles to create space to accommodate the new vehicles that had been intercepted by the team.
It was gathered that the repacking of the vehicles was at the instance of Riks, the Head of the Command Operations and Lagos Roving team who was worried about where to keep newly intercepted vehicles.
Many believe that the Command troubles of where to keep more intercepted exotic vehicles and other fairly ones used as a means of Conveyance of smuggled parboiled rice into the country would encourage Hammed Ali,a retired Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, to hasten up to set up the proposed Committee, which would oversee the auctioning of the condemned vehicles and other goods in Customs warehouses across the country, particular foreign parboiled rice and vegetable oil to decongest the warehouses to free up spaces.
Many believe that the Riks and his team members may have been forced into action to go after the smugglers and fraudulent agents by Muhammed, the Command Area Comptroller .
Indeed, Riks, the Operations and Lagos Roving team boss, who knew much of the various illegal routes in Ogun state allegedly used by smugglers in the state to smuggle vehicles and other Contrabands from Republic of Benin into the Nigeria market was said to have played major role in the transferring the intercepted exotic vehicles detained in the Command. David Paradang, a former Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS , confirmed that there are about 84 illegal routes that could be used by smugglers in Ogun state to carry out their illegal business.
Insiders told The Value News Magazine that Mohammed, the Comptroller of the Command, was always very happy to see the detained vehicles any time he looked down from his office on the second floor or climbed down for official engagements .
Besides vehicle seizures by the team, insiders told the Magazine that all the major rice seizures and bullet proof vehicles that had been made in the Command over the last couple of months, were also made by the team including Tramadol drugs. Rik’s team was also said to have played a major role in actualising other seizures in the command, particular,foreign per boiled rice. Only recently, the team members were said to have laid ambush at Agbara and Atan in Ogun state over alleged plan by some people to smuggle foreign rice into the country through the Creek, for sales during this yuletide periods. The smugglers may have been alerted of the operation that they withdrew their canoes from the Creek early enough.
Not many people are surprised at what Riks and his team members are doing at FOU, Zone A, ikeja, because of their antecedents at FOU, Zone C, Owerri.
Muhammed Uba Garba, a former Comptroller , FOU, Zone C, and now Comptroller, Seme Command, who may have spotted him in the Command when he led a patrol team that made spectacular rice seizures at Bakassi area of Cross River, may have exposed and toughen him for anti-smuggling operations.
It would be recalled that in 2017, he was given an award by the then Assistant Comptroller General in-charge of Zone C, for making the highest seizure in the Zone.
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