By Stephen Ubanna
More facts have emerged why Dalha Shedi Wada, acting Comptroller, Katsina Customs Command and his officers are very ruthless on smugglers in the President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General, home state.
This is because of the constant attacks on Patrol team officers by desperate smugglers who are Collaborating with the Bandits operating in different parts of the state and the government ban on the importation of vehicles and foreign rice through the land border across the country on January 1st, 2017, which have not been reversed.
Moreso, he has the mandate of Hameed Ali, a retired Army and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, to ensure that no Contraband enters or leaves the country in a state which the Katsina state born Nigerian President had said only God could man the borders between Nigeria and Republic of Niger. The retired Army General may have had the feelings that Ali’s men may not be able to control the activities of smugglers in the state who has the backing of the Bandits who are armed to the teeth.
There is no gainsaying the fact that there are 12 official borders in the north western state,and more than 100 unapproved entry and exit routes used by the smugglers to bring in Niger-bound imported Contraband through the Autonomous port of Benin, Cotonou and Bollore port, in the Patrick Talon , home count, which develop wings on the road and find their way into the Nigerian market through the unapproved routes.
The good news was that acting Comptroller Wada and his officers have not allowed the activities of Bandits operating in the state to intimidate them not to do their job as they do patrol the bush to ensure that nothing illegal enters or eaves the country. In spite of the fact that the smugglers have developed many startegies in a state that have produced notable smugglers like one Dahiru Manga, in orderr to evade Customs personnel on patrol at the borders because they are cunning in nature, Wada’s men, according to informed sources, have continued to puncture their tricks.
A transporter disclosed the smugglers operate more around the Jibiya and Konglam borders which may have employed why acting Comptroller Wada, had deployed more officers to the area to contain the smugglers. Many believe that the Command patrol teams could contain the desperate smugglers in the state because Ali, the Comptroller General, had ensured that the Command has enough patrol vehicles and other relevant equipment, particular, AK47, needed to be able to suppress and subdue the menace of smugglers in the state which makes it possible for the anti-smuggling officers to pursue the smugglers through the difficult terrains without shooting a gun to dispossess them of the Contraband.
Note that acting Comptroller Wada had adopted different strategies in dealing with the desperate smugglers including holding Customs and Community Consultative forums that was said to have been attended at various times by by Emirs and district heads in the state including top government officials and other prominent people in the state ‘’to rub mind on how to address the smuggling activities in the state’’.
Indeed, the Customs acting Controller appeal to the people ‘’ to assist the Customs personnel to do their job by giving out credible information appear to have started yielding result’’, forcing many of the die-hard smugglers to go underground as could be seen in the drop in smuggling activities in the state in the ecnt time. The few who had entered the Nigerian road with Contraband meant for the Nigerien market from Benin Republic would never forget their experience in a hurry as they have played into the hands of Wada’s officers.,
The incident of Wednesday, March 23, 2022, speaks volume. The Headquarters Patrol team A, had arrested one used Toyota Sienna Space Wagon concealed with 25 bags of foreign par boiled rice of 50Kg each and one carton of Spaghetti and Maroni each. Given an insider information on the intercepted vehicle, he had said that it bear the inscription’’ Federal Joint Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Against Multiple Taxes and Levies Along Nigerian Highway, Kaduna state Command to evade Customs personnel on patrol. They got it wrong. The driver was said to have been promptly arrested along Katsina-Kano road and the vehicle transferred to the Katsina Command.
The suspect was said to have claimed to be a police officer but during interrogation and proper search of him, the Customs interrogators were said to have in his possession four different identity Cards, The ID Cards found in his possession included a police ID, Citizen for Peace and Aid Mission of Nigeria, Nigeria Association of Agricultural Produce Dealers, NAAPD,, in partnership with ALGON, IMAN Federal Representative of Nigeria Task Force, Kaduna state and Nigerian Police Balistic Jacket, a handcuff, An Assistant Superintendent of Police rank badge and a can suspected to be tear gas.
Given that it is a Criminal offence may have informed why the Katsina Command acting Comptroller has handed over the suspect along with all the exhibit found in him, including the Spaghetti, macaroni and the intercepted vehicle used in conveying the Contraband with a Duty Paid Value, DPV,of N2.025 million, to the Katsina state Police Command for further investigation to ascertain his claim of being an officer, in the spirit of inter-agency relationship.
Besides, the Headquarters Strike Force Patrol Team A, arrest of a suspected fake Police with his Sienna Space Wagon used in smuggling Contraband, the Command on its own intercepted three other vehicles, comprising of a used Daf Truck Registration No.GME 43XE, with a DPV, of about N7 million, used Ford transit Bus, with Registration, No. SBA157 XA, V/Wagon Golf 3, Registration No.BRK123XA, valued at about N11 million and general goods with a market value of about N42.3 million, bring the total worth of items seized within the period under review to about N53.3 million.
The intercepted general goods include 432 bags of foreign par boiled rice of 50Kg each, with a street market value of N10.524 million, 284 Jerry cans of Premium Motor Spirit, popular, Petrol, of 25 litres each, valued at about N1.3 million , used bales clothing worth N1.3 million and wraps of second hand clothing valued at about N1.440 million. Tis is in addition to foreign Spaghetti, foreign couscous, foreign macaroni, Vegetable oil, foreign milk, Tiger nuts and Medicaments.
The worry in the mind of people in the state was that with the way acting Comptroller Wada, who is behaving like an Army General in the war front and his officers are going about anti-anti-smuggling operations in the state which had forced scores of smugglers to relocate to Republic of Niger, it would get to a time that the officers will not have any Contraband to seize as the smugglers have realised that it is difficult to penetrate the rank of the officers , let alone use a third party to Compromise them to remain in the business, would be off the road to avoid losing their money and goods to Katsina Command Patrol Team Officers on the road. The message was very clear, that smugglers are on the losing side in Katsina state as acting Comptroller Wada and his officers step up their anti-smuggling effort to ensure that nothing enters or leaves the country illegally.
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