By Stephen Ubanna
Barely 10 days to the Presidential and National Assembly Elections, the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, appear to have sent a signal to politicians who are desperate to rig in this forthcoming election in the country to watch it as the Nigerian Customs personnel are out to expose their tricks.
Only recently, the FOU , Command Strike Force led by Superintendent Ahmed, at the instance of Aliyu Mohammed , the Area Comptroller was said to have intercepted a vehicle loaded with police camouflages and other fake items . The vehicle, according to an eyewitness , account was said to have been intercepted along the Ijebu-Ode – Benin Express Way. It could not be ascertained weather the intercepted vehicle with its contents were imported through the seaport and transloaded into the vehicle or smuggled into the country through one of the porous borders in Ogun state or Oyo/Osun states. Note that in Ogun state alone, the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, confirmed that there are about 84 illegal routes that could be used by smugglers for their nefarious activities next to Ogun, was Adamawa state which has 83 illegal routes , according to the NIM reports.
The good news was that the intercepted vehicles was driven to the Command premises for thorough examination. The examination may have exposed the vehicle to be carrying a bale of Police Camouflage, insignia of Police Sergeant, berets, Belts, police identity cards without names and ranks, teargas. More worrisome was the cutlass that was discovered in the vehicle, thus raising the question ”what is the policeman going to do with , he queried?. He fears the danger the items would caused if it had entered into the society during this election period where, Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman , Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has said police would play a major role.
Mohammed may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he confirmed that a suspect has been arrested and detained who is helping the Command in their investigation. Appealing to those who are still having such police camouflages and other fake items in stock to destroy them, noting that Customs are ready for them”.” Our plan is to be getting them every day”, he declared.
The FOU, Zone A Customs boss , may have beamed his search searchlight on the politicians when he master-minded the interception of over 20 bullet proof Jeeps by the Command Operations and Lagos Roving Team led by Riks Lura, a Chief Superintendent of Customs last year.
The interception of the vehicle loaded with police Camouflage and other items ahead of the Presidential, National Assembly, gubernatorial and House of Assembly Election may have given the FOU, Zone A, Customs boss, to show case the activities of the Command in the last one month. He disclosed that the Command intercepted 25 vehicles with a Duty Paid Value of about, DPV, N156.25million, 8000 50Kg bags of foreign parboiled rice worth about N106.02 million and 42,412Kg of Donkey Skin at 500 dollars/Kg. Going by the official exchange rate of N361 /dollar, it means the Donkey skin alone was worth N7.7 billion.
An elated Mohammed disclosed there had been a drop in the quantity of foreign rice and smuggled vehicles seized by his men in the month of January , an indication that the rate of smuggling activities in the sout west has reduced tremendously because of the activities of his men who are everywhere. Worried by the frequent killing of Customs personnel on anti-smuggling operations in the region, Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General , Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, has given a matching order to Customs personnel to stop allowing themselves to be killed like fouls by smugglers who are not properly trained and equipped as they are in the discharge of their duties. The directive may have emboldened the officers to go out now for anti-smuggling operations without fear of losing any officer. There are indications that Mohammed, the FOU, Zone A, Customs boss intends to meet the chiefs, Bales and the Youths in the Border Communities to rub minds with them on how to solve the incessant troubles in the areas to avoid further loss of life. The Customs Comptroller also has a message to the Customs Comptrollers at the Land Border Stations to do the right thing without Compromising to curtail the activities of smugglers in the region, known a haven for rice and vehicle smugglers because of the link to Republic of Benin where all types of goods are allowed to be imported into the country including transit cargoes. The trio, of Riks, Ahmed and Ajao, who were said to have sanitised the south west with the support of Muhammed, their Comptroller , were said to have been honoured with the World Customs Organisation , WCO, award during the last celebration. As a prelude to the award, FOU, Zone A, Customs Comptroller, was said to have honoured the trio who have never failed in their responsibility. This time around , Riks, was said to have been given a giant trophy by the Comptroller to appreciate the efforts of the operations and Lagos Roving team curtailing the fraudulent activities at the nation’s seaports. Ahmed who was said to have come second and Ajao , third.
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