Anti-smuggling Operations: I Have An Assignment At Seme/karake Land Border To Deal Decisively With K Smugglers –  Compt. Bomodi.

 By Stephen Ubanna

Unrepentant smugglers who had been evading  officers and men of the Seme Command  at the  Seme-Karake joint Land Border between Nigeria and Republic of Benin with their smuggled Contraband over the years are appears to have been hard  hit this time around .

Many believe that the smugglers could carry out their smuggling activities between Nigeria and Benin Republic with ease because of the 90 Communities around the Seme Jurisdictions which includes the Ajara axis most of the villages   are linked to the water ways, Creeks and the Atlantic ocean which terminates at Benin and which the smugglers could easily access     and use for their smuggling activities.

 Timi Bomodi, a Customs Comptroller and Area Controller of the Seme Command who had taken up the issue of the too many check points mounted on the road with the Deputy Comptroller Enforcement overseeing the Command Enforcement Unit, to justify why the Command should have many check points which he believes inhibits trade facilitation   had taken the bull by the horn to achieve results.

  The Customs who had asked the Command Deputy Comptroller to justify the existence of the too many check points on the road but could not do it had reduced the number by about 50% to enhance trade facilitation at the joint border. He had expected other security agencies like the Nigerian Police Force,    NPF, under the close watch of Kayode Egbetokun, Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, which are members of the Joint Border Security , based  on agreement reached   to do  same but the reverse is the case.

Having at the back of his mind, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, MFR, the   Comptroller General, mandate, that was said to have been given to him on assumption of  duties early last year,to clean up eme/Karake axis of the killer smugglers may have informed why the Customs who is Not ready to wait for all the  othersecurity agencies at the Land border to comply with the Border Security members  directive to reduce their own check points on the road moved into action draw a  road map for the Command anti-smuggling operations.

Customs intercepted vehicles at Seme

Though limited by  number and technology but with the Cooperation and support of the security agencies, particular  the Army, Air Force,  and the Navy, in ensuring peace , safety  and security of the joint border Community and its environs,  the Customs  Controller  had said whatever  feat the Command had achieved in the last five months was because  ‘’the officers  and men of these  other  security agencies  has moved shoulder to holder with them  in the anti-smuggling war  at the joint lander border area  to clip the wings of the economic saboteurs.

 In achieving results in the Command anti-smuggling war at the joint Land Border, he said Area Controller who had moved into action, was said ‘’to have addressed the issues concerning the molestation of females along the Lagos Abidjan corridor   to forestall acts that will endanger   the health and well-being of the vulnerable population of the border Community stake-boarders who go about their normal and legitimate businesses on a daily basis’’.

He wa said to have warned  from the onset  that ‘’stringent act action shall be taken against any officer of the `Command   found guilty of molestation of any female on legitimate trade’’ on the Seme/Kareke corridor may have fve  forced  them to sit up to ensure that the right thing was done.

intercepted gallons of petrol , 25 kg each at Seme

An elated Compt. Bomodi, who could not hide his feelings had told Journalists on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, during a press briefing   to x-ray the activities of the Command between January and May 28, 2024, had sconfirmed that that ‘’the Command has sustained its anti-smuggling momentum’’ in all the nooks and crannies of the Command Areas of Jurisdictions.

He had said that the  onslaught  has ‘’translated  into the seizure of various Contraband items  ranging from Cannibis Sativa, popular, Indian  Hemp smuggled into the Nigerian market from the West African country of Ghana,  Asian countries of Thailand and India par boiled rice,  Foreign processed Vegetable oil and Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular, petrol .

Recall that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who incidentally was a former governor of Lagos state had removed subsidy on petrol as a way to discourage the smuggling of the product from Nigeria into Benin Republic and other neighbouring West African countries but that was how far he could go.       

The smugglers may have known that the game is up when the Seme Command Customs Area Controller began to enjoy the tremendous support of the youths, Bales and Traditional Rulers, of the host Communities.

Customs intercepted vehicle carrying furniture used in concealing parcels of cannabis saiva

  The seizure 1000 parcels of Cannibis Sativa, which was said to have been concealed in vehicle Seats and tops including Furniture in five month speaks volume.  An insider told the Value News that it will take an officer with eagle eye to decipher such Contraband in vehicles or Furniture because of the way it was securely parked in the vehicle. The seizure of the parcels of Indian hemp gives an insight that it has been entering into the Nigerian market over the years through such adopted methods.

The Magazine had sighted a set of Furniture at the Command Enforcement Unit premises on Tuesday, May 28, 2024,   at the Seme, a border Community that was intercepted and thoroughly searched.  The cloth used in covering the Foam of the Furniture was found to have been thorn to show it is hidden in it.  ­

The Seme Customs Helmsman has made clear to those that cares to listen that the Command will continue to come up too hard on the smugglers, because ‘’there had been a significant increase in the illegal importation of the Cannabis Sativa from Ghana into the Nigerian drug market using different methods to beat he officers to it to evade arrest’’ .

He may have gladdened e heart of Nigerians when he disclosed that in the cause of the Command’s anti-smuggling drive, it had intercepted some wild animals described as endangered specials by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN, such as Parrots, Honey Badgers, Pelican bird and tortoise.

The Command was said to have intercepted and seized 20 live Parrots, two honey badgers, two pelican bird and 04 Live tortoise and 3,023, General Merchandise. This is in addition to 149, packages of codeine and pneumatic tyres , 6,67 bags of Foreign par boiled rice of 0Kg, each or 10 trucks load of rice and 15 vehicles used as means of conveyance.

Seme Command Intercepted bags of Foreign rice of 50 Kg each

Many believe that this Contraband could easily come into the country through the Seme-Badagry axis, which have over 90 Communities which are linked the water ways, Creeks and the Atlantic Ocean used by the smugglers.

Notwithstanding the various methods that have been adopted by the die-hard smugglers  to carry out their nefarious activities, within the Seme Jurisdictions, Compt. Bomodi, had explained that ‘’ the Seme Command under his Leadership is trying ‘’to overcome the smugglers ‘’by deploying officers to strategic locations’’

The Nigerian Government was said to have begun discussions with the Beninois Republic Counterpart to ensure that the countries develop Fiscal policies that will make it possible that goods prohibited in Nigeria would also be banned in the French –speaking country to curtail smuggling of Contraband with the deployment of Information Communication Technology, ICT.

Although, the policy has not been put into practice, Compt. Bomodi had said that ‘’ 18 suspects were arrested  for contravening the country’s Fiscal policy  but 11 of them were said to have been granted administrative   bail , three other suspects handed over to the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA,  for further investigations  and one to the Force. However, four of the suspects are still in Custom Custody at the border, amidst tight security.

One of the suspects currently in Customs custody, according to Compt. Bomodi, was a ‘’notorious killer smuggler who was said to have been caught with amulets and charms that  that was said  to have  made  him elusive to arrest as he could easily escape when pushed to a tight corner.

. The amulets and charms may have failed him that Compt. Bomodi could bet his chest that his   reign of terror around the  Seme/Karake Jurisdictions has  come to an end as he will be made’’ to face to the full weight of the Law’’ as a deterrent to others in future’’.

Parcels of cannabis sativa intercepted by Seme Command patrol officers

 Enough on the Command anti-smuggling Operations. We turn to the Customs Formations revenue collections. The Command which  was said to have been given a target of N650 million  to collect and pay into the Federation account  , according  to the Seme Command Area Controller , its monthly revenue  hovers between N 400 million  and N450 million, due to the low cargo traffic at the land  border.

 In  was said to have collected a total sum of N2,634,190,645.53,  only so far this 2024. This, the Customs boss had said ‘’surpasses   that of 2023 figure within the same period with N708,86,252.81 million or  272%. 

Given the government’s drive to promote export of Agricultural Commodities and manufactured products, the Command was said to have facilitated the export of  143,48  metric tonnes of  export produce with  Free On Board, FOB, value of about N35.2 bn while the NES value that was aid to have been paid  was N174,18,464.82. It was gathered that  a total of SIX Single Digit Drawers, SGDs, were utilized between  January to May, 2024 , in the Land border Command for export alone.Vintage Bomodi.

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