By Stephen Ubanna
At the instance of Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, Muhammed Ubah Garba, an acting Assistant Comptroller General of Customs, ACG, and Zonal Coordinator, Zone B, Kaduna, had, led a Customs delegation, to Katsina, President Muhammadu , a retired Arm home statey General The Customs delegation were in the state to commiserate with Aminu Masari, a former ,Speaker of House of Representatives and the governor and the people of the state over the loss of lives in Patrol vehicle accident on Monday, August 9, 2021.
Informed sources told The Value News that on arrival at Katsina, he was said to have made a stop- over at the Katsina Area Command, under the close watch of Shedi Wada, a Deputy Comptroller, where he was said to have inspected guard of honour mounted by the officer before proceeding to the katsina state Government House to deliver his message from the Customs Comptroller General.
The Customs Authorities may have acted swiftly to avoid giving the aggrieved people of Jibia and the adjoining Communities the opportunity to attack Customs personnel on the road to avenge the death of those who lost their live in the hands of the Comptroller Aliyu Mohammed led Border Drills, which Patrol Team vehicle had an accident. The Patrol vehicle was said to have failed break while pursuing a smuggled allegedly vehicle allegedly loaded with Foreign parboiled rice from Republic of Niger.
Note that Foreign rice and vehicles had been banned from coming into the country from the land border by the Katsina state born Nigerian President on January 1, 2017. It was not surprising why the Customs ACG, had urged the officers at the Katsina Area Command and other Customs interventionist units in the state to be cautious why pursuing Smugglers allegedly carrying Contraband, inside the town, particular, Foreign rice or vehicles to avoid road mishap that may result in loss of lives.
While at the Katsina state government House, the Customs Zonal Coordinator, was said to have declared their mission of being in the state.‘’We bring to His Excellency special condolence message from Ali, the Customs boss and his entire Management over the unfortunate incidence that occurred at Jibia and its adjoining Communities on Monday, August 9,2021, when sadly deaths were recorded and others are being hospitalised’’.
In an emotional outburst, he had prayed, May Allah,SAW, grant the souls Aljannah Firdausi, Amen’’. He was said to have assured the governor, who had threatened to drag the Customs to Court over the death of the ten people in the state that ‘’this unforeseen operational hazard that could lead to such an eventuality in the future may not be experienced again in the state’’.
He may have gladdened the heart of the governor when he said that ‘’as a responsible government agency whose cardinal objective is the economic security of the nation, National Food Security Agenda of the government and the prevention of smuggling of uncustomised goods , arms and ammunition and other prohibited items into the country’’ it would not hesitate in doing so.
He noted that the service are not ‘’unmindful of its paramilitary responsibility which is essentially the protection of lives’’ which he had said was in ’’ line with the vision of the Customs Comptroller Genera’’l. He was said to have presented the letter of condolence from the Customs Comptroller General, Management, officers and men of the service to the Appreciative governor.
In apparent response to the ACG. Muhammed remarks, Masari, the Katsina state, governor who could not hide his feelings was said to have called on the Customs Authorities ‘’to conduct a full scale investigation into the circumstance that led to the death of the ten people in the state and left many others injured when a Customs Border Drill Patrol vehicle lost control while on official duty along Jibia town, described as one of the most notorious smugglers route between Nigeria and the neighbouring West African country of Niger. Note that the smuggling situation in Katsina is so bad that the retired Army General had said that ‘’only God would effective Patrol the numerous borders between the two West African countries.
The Customs Zonal Coordinator may have used the opportunity of the visit to the Nigerian President’s home state to interact with the indigenes of the border Communities and their Leaders, the bereaved families and other victims of the accident. He may have taken the bold initiative to do so in order to report back their findings to the Customs boss. Informed sources to The Magazine, that Wada the Katsina Command acting Area Comptroller arranged the visits as there were large turnout of people in most the Emirs Palace and District Heads, visited, to welcome the Customs delegation.
Recall that it wasthe first step that was said to have been undertaken by the Katsina Command Area Comptroller on assumption of duties to familarise himself with the border Communities and interact with the people, urging them to do right thing to avoid running trouble with his men who would not hesitate toseize their smuggled goods.
He was said to have thrown his door open to those making inquiries on how to go about their importation to avoid running foul of the Law. It is on record that the Command Patrol Teams have been making seizures of Contraband ranging from Foreign par boiled rice, vehicles, Vegetable Oil to other Contraband items without any confrontation from the people as some of them were said to have turned away from smuggling to pursue genuine business.
This is where the Border Drill personnel may have to work closely with the officers and men of the Katsina Command and other Interventionist units in the state instead of competing with them to run after smugglers and subsequently make seizures.
Many people believe that the Border Drill officers may have played into the hands of the people who are very sympathetic to smugglers with the loss of lives as there have been calls by the Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, for the immediate suspension of the activities of the adhoc Team in the state
Jamilu Aliyu Charanchi, the Coordinator of the CNG, was said to have called on the Custom Authorities to set the necessary machinery in motion for immediate hat Compensation to be paid to the families of the deceased persons who had lost their lives in the accident. He noted that the Customs Authorities have to pay Compensation to the families because it is not the first time such an accident orchestrated by Customs personnel had happened in the state and no Compensation was paid to the victims’ families.
An aggrieve Charanchi, fears that if the reckless behavior of the Customs Patrol Teams in the state if not decisively addressed now, ‘’ it may result in a breakdown of Law and Order in the state if it happens in the future. Perhaps, this may have informed why Ali, the Customs boss has seriously warned against pursuing alleged smugglers in the town to avoid loss of lives.
Mostost of the Border Drilsl personnel in Katsina state were said to have gone under ground with their branded vehicles for fear of being attacked by angry Youths , thus leaving the cost clear for the officers and men of the Katsina Area Command the Federal Operations Unit, Zone B, to patrol and contain the activities of smugglers in the state.