Maritime:Birth Of A New Customs

By Stephen Ubanna

 With barely four months for President Muammadu Buhari  second term in office, to elapse, Hameed Ali , a retired Army Colonel  and  one of the Katsina state born Nigerian President kitchen Cabinet,  asked to go ‘’to go to Customs: reform, restructure and improve the service revenue generation’’   appears also to be  winding up with the birth of a new Customs Administration

Ali was said to have taken advantage of his close relationship with the Nigerian President to snub the Lawmakers and the minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, which is the supervising ministry, thus running the Customs as a Sole Administrator. It was not surprising why he was always tinkering with the Customs Management with the appointment and redeployment of the Management members.

The reconstitution of the Customs Board under the Chairmanship of the supervisory ministry minister in 2017, by the President may have whittled down his powers .This is because he could no longer make a unilateral appointments into the Management Team, let alone approve the Customs Promotion examination results without the Board agreeing on it.

Many believe that the alignment of the rank structure of the service with that of the Usman Alikali Baba led Nigerian Police Force, NPF, may have given him another opportunity to appoint Deputy Comptroller Generals , DCGs and Assistant Comptroller Generals ACGs of Customs, to fill the vacant positions left behind in the Management Team , left by retirees in acting capacity  awaiting confirmation of the Board.

 The recent retirement of DCGs T.M. Isa, Trade and Tariff,  Ronke Olubiyi,  Strategic Research and Policy,  K.C.  Ekekezie, Excise, FTZ And Industrial Incentives,  A.T, Babani, Training and Doctrine Command, TRADOC,   E.D. Chikan, Finance Administration &Technical Services, FATS, and some ACGs, who were said to have reached the mandatory  60 years age of retirement  going by the Civil service rule,  may have encouraged the Customs Comptroller  General,   to appoint and deploy a new  set of Acting DCGs,  and ACGs into the  Management Tea .

Adeniyi: CustomsActing DCG: Strtegic Research And Policy

 As at Friday, January13, 2023, the names of some former ACGs and serving Area Comptrollers were said to be circulating at the Customs Headquarters and Customs Formations across the country and Clearing agents circles, to have made the Ali, list as the members of the Management team, meaning that the Team   was a combination of both the new and chips of the old block.

 A document cited by The Value News shows that   Jack.P.  Ajoku , will take over Ekekezie’s portfolio of overseeing Excise, Free Trade zones and Industrial Incentives, having bowed out from the service,  Wale Adeniyi,  overseeing   Command &Staff College, Gwagwalada, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, FCT, will  oversee the  Strategic Research and Policy  Division, and     Abbakura, former ACG, Customs Headquarters will be the Acting DCG  E.I&I, Division iwhile    Galadima  A. Saidu, who was the ACG, Information, Communication  &ATechnology, ICT, Modernisation will be the acting DCG, HRD Department.

 Even Greg Itotoh, who was among the three recently confirmed ACGs by the Customs Board, was said to have been deployed to  Training and Doctrine Command, TrADOC.

 DCGs  H.K.Gummi and Elton Edorhe, who were said to have been   retained in the new Management Team, based on information from the rumour mills who were   head of   the  Human Resources  Development, HRD and E.I.&I,  respectively were said to have  been assigned to  new portfolios of Trade&&Tariff and FATS respectively. .

The Acting ACGs , who  were said to  have been  selected  from the Comptrollers rank were K.C. Egwuh,  TRADOC, Olugbeyega   Peters, who was a one-time  Comptroller, Western Marine,  and rumoured to be the ACG, /Zonal Coordinator,  Zone D, and  l A .Hamisu, now, Commandant, Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, a position previously occupied by Adeniyi, who is now an Acting DCG.

   Other Comptrollers, that were said to have been elevated to Acting ACGs, whose names appeared on the alleged Fake Custom Management list included Suleiman. A. Bomai, former Area Controler, Port Multi-services Terminal Limited, PTML.   Musa. MBA, T&T,   A.Kappa-Williams, E.I&I, Yusuf Malantanta, ICT/Modernisation,   Y.Salihu , Finance &Admin, CK. Niagwan , FATS,  K.I.Adeola  TRADOC. And Mohammed Bello Jibo, Customs Headquarters. Also on the list were Acting ACGs, H.J. Swomen, Excise, Free Trade Zone and Industrial Incentives and Alfa, Strategic Research and Policy.

The Customs Headquarters had distanced itself from the alleged fake Customs Management list, describing it as’’ unofficial’’, promising to release the authentic list.

 True to its words,on Thursday, January 19, 2023, Timi Bomadi, a Customs Comptroller and National Public Relations Officer, of the service, at the instance of the Customs Comptroller General, had released the official, list which was not quite different from the unofficial one that has been making the rounds over the last the weeks, confirming the saying that’’ there is no smoke without fire’’.

 Comptroller Bomadi Press Statement shows that   the Customs Comptroller General may have been encouraged to approve’’ the appointment and deployment of the Management members ‘’following the statutory retirement of some old members of the Management to enhance strategic and effective delivery’’

  Last year, the Customs boss had appointed and deployed acting ACGs, Felix Okun, andShuaibu Ibrahim who were said to have been confirmed alongside with the release of the promotion list of 1,490 senior officers of the service last two week by the Board.

In congratulating  the newly appointed and deployed acting DCGs and ACGs, including former DCGs Elton Edorhe, who was initially  overseeing  E.I&I.I but  now  moved to FATs,  with the retirement of Hajia Isa, and Gummi  who was  moved from HRD to T&T, in the new order, the Customs Comptroller General, had charged the newly appointed Management Team members  ‘’to double  their efforts  in  ensuring  that the service achieve  greater height s in its  mandate  of revenue generation,  Suppression of smuggling  and trade facilitation’’.   

  Comptrollers Malanta, described as a revenue mobilizer, Musa .MBA, a former Comptroller, Tin can Island Command, who was redeployed to the Customs Headquarters, last year, and Suleiman. A. Bomai,  Federal Operations, FOU, Zone B, Kaduna, but deployed to Port Multiservices Terminal  Limited, PTML, late last year but seen by Colleagues  as  some of the best brains in the service may have seen their elevation as a big challenge.

Jibo: Acting ACG, Custom Headquarters, Described As A Performer

 One  top flight senior officer whose elevation to acting ACG rank  and deployed, to be the new ACG Customs Headquarters, that   has continued to elicit  Commendation from Industry stakeholders  was Comptroller Mohammed Bello Jibo, Seme Command, Area Controller. Described as one of the best all-round officers, the service, has ever produced, over the last two decades, many believe that he will deliver on his mandate and bring dignity to the office.

,  As Area Comptroller of Seme Command, he was said to have  forced many  Contraband smugglers, particular, the VIP Petrol smugglers operatingaround the seme jurisdictions to go underground or relocate to Ogun and Oyo states as the area became too hot them for  to carry out their nefarious activities.

Between December , 2020 and September 2022, Seme Commmand under the Leadership of the then  Compt. Jibo, had made seizures of  thousands of Jerrycans of Premium m Motor Spirit, PMS, popular, petrol, of 30 litres each, worth millions of naira. The latest of such major petrol seizures was an estimated 3,998 jerry cans of petrol, loaded with 33,200 litres each, equivalent of 119,940 litres, about four Tanker loads around the Bdagry axis, valued at about N29 million.

In achieving the feat, the former Seme Customs Area Controller was said to have set up an impregnable Operations Team headed by one Abbukar Darkingari, an Assistant Comptroller of Customs.   Even Vehicles and Ghana grown cannabis Sativa, popular, India Hemp smugglers, may not have it found it funny in Seme and Badagry axis Those who were said under the then Comptroller Jibo.

 Those who were said to have tried to beat his Patrol teams, stationed at strategic locations around the Seme Jurisdictions would never forget their experience in a hurry. They were said to have lost both their vehicles, wraps of Indian hemp, worth millions of naira to the Command.

 Many believe that the erstwhile Seme Customs Area Controller could achieve that much with the logistics support from Ali, the Customs helmsman. The improved logistics of the Command was said to have made it easy for patrol teams to take the anti-smuggling war to the criminal elements hideouts in the Creek and watersides and dispossess them of their contraband.

President Muhammadu Buhari, decision to ban the importation of foreign rice and vehicles into the country on January 1, 2017, through the Land borders  may have strengthened the  resolve of the no-nonsense  Former Seme Area Controller and his men to make  the Seme jurisdictions a no go area  for  smugglers.

 The Beninois Customs Authorities based on the agreement between Benin Republic and the Nigerian government ought to be transferring Nigerian bound Containers to the Seme Command without beraking the SEAL   to be taken to the Seme Bonded Terminal where it will be examined by the security agencies personnel and  properly  valued by the Customs Valuation officers.

 In spite of the fact that the  neighbouring  West African country Customs Authorities are  reluctant to transfer Nigeria-bound Containers to Nigeria,  Comptroller Jibo and his  officers may not have  allowed it to affect the Command  monthly revenue collections.  The Command revenue generation in last five months of 2022, speaks volume. The Command monthly revenue collection was said to have hovered between N1.5 billion and N2 billion.

He was said to have ensured that the few transit Containers transferred to the Command by the Benin Customs Authorities pay appropriate duties by blocking all the areas of leakage at the Land border Area that could have easily been used by the importers to perpetuate fraud.

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