Anti-smuggling Operations: Area Controllers Battle To Win Adeniyi’s Attention By Making Contraband Seizures

By Stephen Ubanna

 Bashir Adewal Adeniyi, Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, MFR, moves to deal a decisive blow on smugglers at the nations land border areas and sea ports across the country may have encouraged the Area Controllers at the various Interventionist units and seaports and the seaports to compete among themselves to make spectacular seizures to win the heart of the Customs hemsman.

 From the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos, FOU, Zone B, Kaduna, Sokoto/Zamfara, Katsina, Oyo/Osun Land border Commands to the Apapa, Tincan Can and Port Harcourt, Area ,II,  Command, II, Onne, Rivers state, the story is the same:  Contraband seizures.

A senior officer at the  Customs Headquarters Department  of Enforcement, Inspection and Investigation,  E,In&I, who spoke to the Value News online Magazine  had said that the introduction of Mohammed Bello Jibo, described as an anti-smuggling Czar, who understands the body  language  of the smugglers and the various tricks used by them to carry out their nefarious  activities to oversee the Department may  have informed why Commands have rejig their Enforcement units  to deliver on their anti-smuggling mandates to meet the  demnd of the Comptroller General.

Compt. Oramalugo: Area Controller, Oyo/Osun Command

Indeed, the foursome of Comptrollers Ben Nkem Oramalugo, Kola Oladeji, Shuaibu Ahmadou Bello and Dera Nnadi , of Oyo/Osun, FOU, A, FOU, Zone, B and Tincan Isand respectively appears to be leaving no stone to make contraband seizures  in their areas of jurisdictions.

 Compt. Kehinde Hussain Ejibuno, a former Area Controller, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja , who was said to have effectively policed the anti-smuggling operations in the Land border Areas in the  six south western states of  Ogun, Oyo, and Lagos, particular  and the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tincan Island , Port Terminal Multi-services Limited, PTML , KiriKiri Lighter Terminal, Phases I &II and now Coordinator, Operation whirlwind, overseeing Petroleum products smuggling  across the country lneighboring Benin Republic, Niger and Central African country of Cameroon, including Chad, appeared to  have joined the fray to compete for the Customs helmsman’s attention.

Officers and men of the Oyo/Osun Command, who had their Counterparts at FOU, Zone A, Ikeja,  who were said to have taken advantage of their population and the believe that the Customs Comptroller General  is behind their operations and would always  provide them with the needed operational vehicles and other working equipment when they cry out for help  may have given the Command’s past and present   Area Controllers to deploy  their officers to the south western states , notwithstanding that there  are locations in these states  where the resident officers have  an added advantage.

 This may have resulted in sabotage and blackmail by the FOU, Zone A, officers against the resident officers to prove a point that the fear of ‘’the FOU, Zone A, officers is the beginning of wisdom’’.  

 The message was very clear to both the genuine traders and smugglers that if you do not want your business to disturbed you must recognize our presence of the FOU, Zone A, officers, in these south west states or find y your cargoes at the Command premises in Ikeja.  The body language of the FOU, Zone A, officers, deployed to the south western stats, was very clear: We are in-charge of Customs anti-smuggling operations in the region.

This may have informed  why the FOU, Zone A, officers had consistently blocked everywhere in the six south western states to ensure that the resident  anti-smuggling officers  did not  do their job in order to put the Commands  in these states in the bad book of the Comptroller General  as non-performers.

Compt. Suaibu: Area, FOU, Zone B, Kaduna

Informed sources told the online Magazine that FOU, Zone A, Patrol team officers had made attempts to intimidate the Ogun I, anti-smuggling officers, when Compt. Shuaibu, now deployed to FOU, Zone B, Kaduna was the Area Controller but got it wrong.

 This is because the Customs Comptroller, who was in total control of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo, home state that had over 90 illegal borders routes where the smugglers had used to carry out their nefarious activities between Nigeria and neigbouring  Benin Republic, t did not give the FOU, Zone A, men  room to make mockery of his officers who are on ground to make the usual  Contraband seizures of foreign rice, fairly used vehicles , Cannabis Satiza and Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular, petrol , arms and ammunition.

His redeployment to FOU, Zone B, may have opened the door for the FOU, Zone A, and Operation hirlwind officers, who understands the terrain very well to return back to the state in full force to make Contraband seizure of foreign rice and petrol, smuggled across Nigerian border with Benin Republic.

While the officers of the Ogun I, Command, Idiroko, appears to have lost  the anti-smuggling war to FOU, Zone and Operation Whirlwind officers, the situation appears to be different in Oyo and Osun states, policed by Oyo/Osun Command.

 Compt.Oramalogu, who appears to have read the riot Act to his Patrol team officers to go all out and make Contraband seizures, according to residents in the border Communities are working in  accordance  to his mandate as the  officers compete with the FOU, Zone A, and Border Drill , Lagos Zonal officers to make seizures.

 This is evident with the seizure of N1.4 million fake drugs, through intelligence  and support of the local Communities , which was said to have been handed over to the Leadership of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Council, NAFDAC, in February, 2024, and scores hundreds of parcels of Cannabis Sativa, valued  at about N16 million , recently  handed over to the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement agency  , NDLEA,  Command   in Ibadan, Capital of Oyo state, for further investigations and destruction, and several other Contraband seizures.

Many believe that given Compt . Oramalugo, efforts in guiding his officers to carry out successful anti-smuggling operations in Kebbi state, described as haven for drug barons in the north with the support of the border Communities in the state and collaboration  with the FOU, Zone B, Kaduna , Leadership, who sees themselves as working for the same Organisation but not competing to outshine each other, he had epeted to repeat same in Oyo and Osun states by making more  interceptions and seizures of drugs and fake Pharmaceutical products but FOU, Zone A, officers appars to be frustrating his efforts.

Compt. Shuaibu, who had  created an impressive record in the defunct Comptroller General of Customs , CGC, Task Force, Team A, Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve- centre where he was said to have made billions naira of pangolin scales and elephant tusks seizures and Ogun state , where he had clipped the wings of the Cannabis Satiza, of arms and ammunitions smugglers,  for the six months he had served in Ogun I, Command, and what he is currently doing against the smugglers in in the north western  states of Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Jigawa, Kano and the north central states of Kwara, Niger, Kogi, Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau and Abuja, the Federal, Capital Territory , FCT, without intimidating the resident officers with his men , speaks volume

arely two weeks of interception and seizure of endangered species like, bones and meat, worth billions of naira, the Customs Comptroller who hand mobilized his men into full cale action, which was said to have resulted in the seizure of 445.45 Kg. of Pangolin scales, worth about N4 billion, in the suburbs of Zuru town, Kebbi state, on Friday, May 31, 2024 has not relented. 

Compt. Nnadi: Area Controller, Tin can Island Command

Compt. Nnadi, overseeing the Lagos Tin can Island Command may have added another dimension to the antismuggling operations with the invitation of the Comptroller General, to present its major Contraband seizuresto the public.

Only recently, the Comptroller General,   had showcased a N4.1 billion illicit drugs and some pharmaceutical products imported from the Asian country of India, described as home of Pharmaceutical Companies, producing both genuine and fake drugs and some other items produced from the North American country of Canada, but shipped through the Tin can Island port.

The intercepted and seized items made by Compt. Dera’s port at the Tin can Island port, were said to have been loaded in two containers, comprising of 1x 40 foot Container of regulated unregistered pharmaceutical products   and another 1×40 foot Container of illicit psychotropic substances.

Recall that last March, the Command had intercepted ad seized a cache of arms and ammunition at the Tin can Island port, which was said to have been presented to the public by the Customs Comptroller General, who had given kudos to Compt. Dera, the  Customs Area Controller , for making the spectacular seizures.

Compt. Eibuno: Coordinator: Operation Whirlwind

 Compt. Ejibuno, who was used to making noise with his Contraband seizures as the Area Controller of FOU, Zone A, iKeja, Lagos, may have seen another opportunity to so as the Coordinator of Operation Whirlwind to draw the attention of the Comptroller General with his petrol seizures across the country.

On Thursday, June 13, 2024, the Operation Whirlwind Coordinator, had announced   the seizure of 26,950 litres of petrol being smuggled out of the country into the Republic of Benin. The Customs Comptroller had said that the 98 kegs of 25 litres petrol was worth N19 million.

The Special Squad set up by the Customs Comptroller   to add a bite to efforts aimed at tackling the activities of petrol smugglers across the nation’s borders with Benin Republic, Niger and the Central Africa country of Cameroon appears to be yielding results.

Prior to the Ogun state  petrol seizures, the Special Squad,  under the close watch of Compt. Ejibuno,   on Friday, June 7, 2024,   had intercepted and seized  92,928 litres  in several  kegs of 25 litres each  at Mubi , Son-Wuroboki , Mubi Sahuda road, in Admawa, home state  of former Vice President tiku Abubakar, during the Basanjo Administration, and around the notorious Illela Area, in Sokoto state, which was said to have been presented to the public by the Comptroller General, on the invitation of the  Operation Whirwind Coordinator.

The seizures of the  hundreds of Kegs of Petrol, in Adamawa, Sokoto, and Oogun states, in less than one month has given the comptroller General hope that the end of the road have come for the petrol smugglers.

 Even the Oyo/Osun Command Area Controller, Compt. Ormalugo, in the month of April, May and some, parts of June, 2024,  had intercepted 6,850 litres of petrol, being smuggled out of Oyo  and Osun states , to the neighbouring Benin Republic around the Saki and Iseyin axis worth N5,521,500.00, meaning that petrol smugglers have no room to operate in the two states because of the tight security  mounted by Oyo/Osun Command a officers.

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