FOU, Zone C: DC. Kolade Heaves A Sigh Of Relief As Smugglers Suffer Heavy Loses In Two Months     

By Stephen Ubanna

 Between September 10, 2020 and February, 2023, Kehinde Hussain Ejibunu, a Deputy Customs Comptroller, appointed by Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and immediate past Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, as Area Controller to oversee anti-smuggling operations in the south western states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo had seen himself as a super star as he virtually had no Competitor.

 This is because of the spectacular Contraband seizures that the Command had continued to make under his Leadership and which are usually   displayed on Television on a monthly basis and even making Headline news in Newspapers and voraciously used in the social media.

 Until Ali, the former Customs Comptroller General was removed from office last June by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and replaced him with Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, he had seen Ejibunu, as a performer as he was a regular guest in the Command to address the press on Contraband   seizures.

  The posting of Kayode Kolade, another Customs Deputy Comptroller to FOU, Zone C, Owerri, Capital of Imo state, last February to further strengthen its anti- smuggling operations that covers the entire south -eastern and south -south geo-political regions comprising of 11 states appears to be yielding result.

 The good news about the two FOU Zone A and Zone C, Area Controllers was that the duo had worked under   Ade Fandahunsi, an Assistant Comptroller General of Customs, rtd, regarded in Customs Circles as an anti-smuggling czar and who is now a Senator of Federal Republic of Nigeria from Osun, home state of the incumbent Customs acting Comptroller General.

The duo were said to have worked under the former Customs anti-smuggling Czar as Cadet officers and had learnt on the job. It was not surprising why DC. Kolade on assumption of duties last February   had considered it necessary to  give a new lease of life   to the Command with its operations retooled  and rejigged. The performance of DC. Kolade, ever since he was deployed to the FOU, Zone C, remain legendary. 

He may have sent a signal to the unrepentant smugglers that the master of the game had arrived the scene with the seizure of five acks of Pangolin scales, hard drugs worth N2.75 billion within the first two months.

 With the support giving Kaugama Ahmed, an Assistant Comptroller, and the Command Head of anti-smuggling Unit to do his work may have informed why the various anti-smuggling   teams set up are going extra-miles to make Contraband seizures that had escaped FOU, Zone A, officers, in Lagos, Oyo and Osun states along the Okada- Benin nd Ewu Auchi, Ewu-Ibilo and Benin-Asaba-Onitsha Expressway.

 Indeed, with the mandate given to AC Ahmed by , the FOU, Zone C, Area Controller and who in turn was said to have  passed the directive down the line to the Patrol Team Leaders , who were said to have picked because they could do the job were said to have strategically positioned in their various  locations in the south-eastern and south-south geo-political regions.  

An insider had told The Value News that AC. Ahmed who takes every challenge given to him very serious was said to have put a close tab on the Command anti-smuggling Team Leaders to ensure that hey deliver on the mandate. One of them,  Jude Nwogwu, a Chief Superintendent of Customs, CSC, who was said to given tough time to smugglers in the flash point Communities  in Oyo state, particular,  that the people cried out , was said to have been made the Officer in-charge of   Okada  Patrol Team, Supt. Igbafo, Benin,  Patrol Team.  While   CSC. Bello, was said to have been made   the  Ewu  Patrol  Team  and  CSC  Umar,  Aba/Eleme Team. 

It was learnt that the Patrol Team Leaders and their members had mobilised on site at the instance of the Area Controller in order to give account of each of sent out on operations.  This may have informed why the various anti-smuggling Patrol Teams in Edo and other states in the south eastern and south- regions are competing to make spectacular seizures to win the heat of the Customs anti-Comptroller.

 CSC , Nwogwu who was said to have given   smugglers tough time in  Oyo state at FOU, Zone A , according informed sources has replicated same in FOU, Zone C. This is evident going by the seizures that was said to have been made by his own Team along the Okada-Benin road while CSC .Bello , had made smugglers’ life uncomfortable  along the  Ewu- Auchi Express way  and Ewu-Ibilo  Road  other major porous routes used by those operating between Lagos and  Edo, Oyo/Osun and Edo to push their smuggled goods into the south eastern state of Anambra, popular the Ontisha market and its environs.  CSC. Umar, the Officer in-charge of Abia/Eleme, Patrol Team, may have taken a cue from other Patrol Team Leaders to make appreciable impact in their areas of operation by giving smugglers a cause to worry.

DC. Kolade, may have opened up, when he said recently that between July25, 2023, and September 23, 2023, the Command under his Leadership intercepted several smuggled  wraps Canabis Sativa, popular, Indian Hemp, allegedly  produced in Ghana, nine  sacks of raw materials used for production  of explosive devices, foreign par boiled rice, allegedly produced from the Asian country of Thailand and the North America country of Vietnam,  including  bales of second hand clothing , used pneumatic tyres and unregistered /expired  medicaments  and  tramadol, as well as DSP cough syrup  with codeine , 100mg, containing 1000 bottles were intercepted.

A elated DC.Kolade,  who could beat his chest that the Command Checkpoint and Patrol Team officers officers are doing what is expected  of them in the competitive anti-smuggling war across the country are making unexpected Contraband seizures  despite not having anything to do  with the neighbouring West African country of Benin Republic, described as a dumping  ground for the imported foreign goods prohibited  in Nigeria, but which eventually found their way into the Nigerian market through  several unapproved routes.

The Command could claim to have done exceedingly well in checkmating the types of good or agricultural products entering into the two regions under its control from the south western region, which also have the major seaports used in importing merchandise goods and vehicular cargoes into the country.

 They are the Lagos port of Apapa, which controls over the 70% cargo import into the country, Tin can Island port which handles both Containerised cargoes and vehicular cargoes, Port Terminal Multi-services Limited, PTML, which handles more of the country’s vehicle imports, with the ban on the importation of vehicles through the land borders, across the country by former President Muhammadu Buhari, on January 1, 2017.

It is interesting to note that Kirikiri Lighter terminal, KLT, phases I&II, are also within the Lagos Port environment, including several private bonded terminals that dotted the nooks and crannies of the epi-centre of the nation’s Commercial activities.

Given that there are several unmanned routes in which smuggled Contraband could easily enter   into the south eastern and south -states of Cross river and Akwwa Ibom states from the neighbouring Cameroun, a Central African country, by Land and sea, may have informed why DC. Kolade had mobilised his boys to effectively police the states.

DC.Kolade, had said   that that the FOU, Zone C, under his control, had intercepted 417  sacks  of canabis sativa, popular, Indian hemp, weighing 9,194Kg and  627 Compressed parcels  of the Contraband    of one Kilogram each , totalling 627Kg. 

The FOU, Zone C, Customs acting Comptroller, had said that  this is in addition to the interception of nine sacks of raw materials for  production of explosive devices, 1,329 bags, of 50Kg each of smuggled foreign par boiled rice, 761 bales of second hand clothing,5, 737 pieces of used pneumatic tyres, 335 cartons of smuggled foreign tomato paste and 300 cartons of spaghetti, 883 cartons of various unregistered/expired medicaments including tramadol and cough syrup with codeine, described as dangerous drugs.

The Command was said to have also impounded one unit of Bullion van, without End User Certificate from the office of Nuhu Ribadu, a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, IGP, and National Security Adviser, NSA.

Intercepted Armoured Vehicle By FOU, Zone C

 Going by the enormous Contraband seizures that had been made by the Command in the between July 25, 2023 and Septmber 23, 2023, DC.Kolade, may have sent a message to the cross border smugglers operating along the Okada-Benin, Ewu-Auchi, Ewu -Ibilo, Benin -Asaba-Onitsha Express way and  Umeikaa  -Aba, road  that it is no longer going to be business as usual as his officers are in total control of the areas.

 He had confirmed that much of the Contraband seizures made by the Command within the period under review were made mostly along the Okada/Benin, Ewu-Auchi, Ewu- Ibilo and Umeikka-Aba roads.

Take for instance, the 627 parcels of Indian hemp, seized along the Okada-Benin road, by CSC.nwogwu’s Team the armoured bullion van     intercepted by the Team were said to have been intercepted along the Okada-Benin   route by the Team including  100 cartons of wine and330 cartons of tomato pastes that   was said to have been intercepted by the Command , CSC. Bello, led Team   along the Ewu- Ibilo axis.

 It was learnt that the Benin Patrol Team, led by one Supt. Igbafe, had made seizures  of five cartons  of DSP cough syrup with codeine  and the 883 unregistered  medicaments Concealed in a bus  heading to the south eastern  Ontisha  market,  for onward distribution to  other states in the region .

The drugs were said to have been intercepted intercepted   along the Benin-Asaba and Onitsha express way, meaning that the Medicaments may have escaped all the FOU, Zone A, officers, along the Lagos Benin Road to enter the Benin-Asaba-Onitsha express way before falling into the waiting hands of the Benin Team who may have refused to be compromised insisting on the right thing being done.

The DC.Kolade, field  officers, may not have given a breather to smugglers operating along the unapproved routes in Cross river and Akwa Ibom states as well. The seizure of 5, 737, pieces of pneumatic   tyres, along the Okada-Benin Road by CSC. Nwogwu’s Team and  a Team at a water-side in Cross river state, including 761  bales of second hand clothing , mostly concealed in trucks  and buses  along  the Okada-Benin road by the same CSC Nwogwu’s Team and the CSC .Umar’s Team along   the Umeikaa -Aba road  in Abia state, bear eloquent testimony to the fact that the FOU, Zone C,   has intensified its anti-smuggling operations over the last two months.

This is an indication that the Customs Comptrollers t ofwo major Interventionist Units in Lagos, FOU, Zone A and the Border Drill, Lagos Zonal office, including the Western Marine, the service Amphibious Command and their anti-smuggling officers on Land, Creeks, riverside and the sea ned to sit up.  

A close source informed The Value News online Magazine that given the enormous Contraband seizures made along the Benin -Okada, Ewu Auchi Ewu Ibilo and Benin, Asaba-Onitsha axis may have contributed why the   Government Warehouse, Aduwawa, Benin city, Capital of Edo state under the control of the Edo/Delta Command is always filled to the brim.

The recovery of N54,244,571.00, lost revenue which could have entered into private accounts through the issuance od Demand Notice, DN,  onby the Commandon suspected Containers ,  is a clear , indication  that Area Controllers  at the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tincan Islan, PTML and KLT , including the south eastern ports   of Portharcourt, Area I, and Portharcourt Area II, River state needed to  keep a close tab on  what their respective  releasing officers   tose stationed at the exit gates  are doing  to  avoid playing into the hands of the FOU, Zone C, field officers who are everywhere in the south eastern and south-south  geopolitical regions.

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