Customs: No Hiding Place For Textile Smugglers As The CGC Strike Force Team A, Recovers Over N2 billion For The Government In Two Months

By Stephen Ubanna

This is not the best of times for textile and fraudulent  importers with their clearing agents at the Lagos ports of Apapa and Tincan Island as members of the Comptroller General of Customs, CGC, Strike Force Team A, comprising of the operations and Information Communication Technology, ICT, Units,  are  on  their trail.

 The CGC, Strike Force Team A, which is Coordinated by Ahmadu Shuaibu, according to informed sources have made appreciable  impact  on the anti-smuggling activities in the south west, particular,at the Lagos seaports  of Apapa, Tin can Island and the Port Multi-services Terminal Limited in the last two months.

T Not that the big time traders   may have been taken delivery of the Asian country of China manufactured textile materials, popular, Ankara, from the Lagos ports over the years with the active connivance of their Customs Collaborators and the occasional   seizures  by the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Operations and Lagos Roving Team members, the situation has changed  that Shuaibu and new Team members   assumed duties on October 9, 2020, after about one week of the reconstitution of the  Team by Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller, Nigerian Customs service, NCS.   As a prelude to actualization  the Team mandate, Shuaibu was said to have read the riot Act to the  dishonest importers ‘’to turn a  new leaf  and stop short changing the government by making correct declarations’’.  

The CGC Strike Force Team A, Coordinator, and his Operations including the  ICT, officers  may have known that the continuous importation of Foreign textiles into the  country would have an  adverse effect on the revival of the nation’s textile industry that is being pursued by the Buhari Administration. . The Operation and the ICT  officers were said to have combined  perfectly well to identify such Textile and other fraudulent Containers  released from the port and intercept them with ease.  Aware that the textile import business is not for the poor, they were said to have tightened the noose on the mafia.

  Although , the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, at the instance  of President Muhammadu Buhari  had made provision for  a N50 billion  special mechanism  funds  for reviving the nation’s ailing  textile industries,  the textile importers who had  continued to flout the government policy to bring the  banned Foreign  items into the country may have given Shuaibu and his Operation/ICT officers the ammunition to go after their Containers released at the port.

Shuaibu: Coordinator, CGC Strike Force Team A

Between November 15 and December 15, an interval of one month, the Team, had intercepted  nine Containers loaded with different items released from the Lagos ports within the port environment.   The Value News was informed that based on the number of Containers   intercepted  by the Team and the huge amount  recovered for the government from the issuance of Demand Notice, DN,  from the  guilty importers,  Shuaibu, who has at his  finger tips  every information about the activities of the Team on  a daily basis had  sought the approval of  the Customs Comptroller General, to meet with the press to show case  its seizures in the last one month . Recall that he has always given the Team A on its activities of to the  Customs  boss  on a weekly and  monthly basis without failing. Of the  4 x ‘’40’’  Containers that  had positioned   to show case to the press on Wednesday, December 16, 2020, they were said to be loaded with  different items ranging from foot wares, Ankara  textile materials  to Foreign bags.   The Magazine learnt that the CGC Strike Force team A, may  not  have   had  any  difficulty in getting the Customs Comptroller’s General’s nod to meet with the Press because the Team had made  good seizures that deserved to be publicized.     

Walking like an Army General who has conquered his enemies in a war front, on Wednesday, December 16, 2020,  he had taken the selected Lagos  Journalists, from the print, online and the electronic  media to the  Ikorodu Lighter Terminal, ILT, where government overtime cargoes from the Lagos  ports are transferred for safe keeping.

Eyewitness account told The Magazine that  the CGC Strike Force Team A, Coordinator ],described’ as a very effective person in Customs circles’’, who spoke extempore at the meeting  with the Journalists  did not disappoint  anyone    as  he responded  all technical  questions asked with facts and figures without murmuring .

 One of the  intercepted  ‘’40’’ Container was said to have been loaded   with 564 bales of textile materials of the popular, Ankara . He further  disclosed that the Team also intercepted   a ‘’40’’  Container , which was found to contain 637 bales of Foot Wares while the third ‘’40’’ Container was  loaded with  Foreign bags  with a market Value of about N441 million and  a Demand Notice, DN, of about N53million.The Container number, according to informed sources is CMAU 4263564.

Bales Textile Materials In A ”40” Containe Seized By CGC Strike Force Team A

The CGC Strike Force, Team Coordinator  may have sent a signal to the importers of the Contraband that the cargoes  are liable to seizure after being condemned by a competent Court of Law.  The CGC Strike Force, Team A, Coordinator   who could not hide his feelings had said that  ‘’TeCustoms job  is basically ‘’intelligence’’, stressing  that ‘’ traders who are non-Compliant to the government Fiscal policy  would  always have problem with the team ant-smuggling officers  an e.

Given insider  information , about the operation of the Team between January and December 15, 2020, he disclosed that it recovered  N2,534,853,404.00  for the  government from the issuance of DN. This is money that should have entered into private accounts both for the  intervention  efforts  of the CGC Strike Force,  Team A, Operation and ICT officials at the Lagos ports.

The Magazine gathered  that out of the amount, the Shuaibu’s Team, alone, with’’ its Committed , diligent and resourceful officers, who  at the risk of their lives had  recovered for the government was a whopping    N1,417,616,031.00, in two months, a feat yet to be matched by a former Coordinator or Commander of the CGC Strike Force Team A since its establishment.

The CGC Strike Force Team A, Coordinator, had  attributed the superlative performance ‘’to the use intelligence, physical and its  manpower  in   checkmating the importers with their agents and their Customs Collaborators’’. Advising the importers and their agents to desist from shortchanging the government, he declared, ‘’we  are determined, encouraged and  mobilized  by the Customs  Authorities’’  to carry out our anti-smuggling works.

  He averred that importers who dares the Team to bring in suspicious Container loads of Consignments into  the  country and   which eventually  falls into the waiting hands of the CGC Strike Force Team A, personnel, would be ‘’searched to the bottom’’ to see the last content to ensure that ’’there is no Concealment and that the Consignment  complies with the government Fiscal policy’’.

 The Magazine was  informed that since the CGC Strike Force Team Coordinator  took  out time to meet with the releasing officers at the AP Moller Terminal, and other terminals including  the Deputy Comptrollers  at the Apapa Command  / the  APM,  to drum into their ears on the  need to ensure that the right things are done at the ports by the importers with their agents, it appears to have achieved its purpose with the improved traders Compliance to the government Fiscal policy  at the ports, particular, Apapa port.

 Shuaibu is optimistic that with  the  intervention of CGC Strike  Team, the activities of the textile and fraudulent importers with their agents    would be greatly reduced  next year. This is because the importers who have come to the reality that they  have  to make correct declaration and  pay the appropriate duty to avoid running into trouble with Customs personnel on their legitimate duty have started doing so.

He has a word for  the recalcitrant traders, urging them’’ to be making correct declarations  and avoid sharp practices that would land them into trouble’’ with  his men . He was said to have told  those that cares to listen,   that  ‘’his Team members  would continue ‘’ to be meticulous, dogged and would never  relent  at enforcing  Compliance to the government Fiscal policy’’.    

Perhaps, what may have  gladdened  Shuaibu  and  his operational  Team members  was the evacuation of 80 bags of rice of 50Kg each from  a warehouse operated by a Nigerian, without resistance  from the people at an undisclosed location.

 He was  said to  have sounded a note of warning  to the smugglers who take advantage of Nigerian’s porous borders to bring in Contraband , particular,  Foreign rice into the country to  retrace their step. It is instructive to note that the Team in the two months of its activities under review had seized 1,252 bags of Foreign rice of 50Kg each from smugglers operating between Benin and Nigeria   

 Many fears that the rice smugglers who operate  between  the West African country of Benin Republic and Nigeria would  face more problems from  the Team  this time around with the reopening of the closed  borders across the country in August 2019, on the orders of the Katsina state born Nigerian President, in spite of the fact  that President Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso Committee that was  set  up by the Economic Community of West African states, ECOWAS, to look into the  Nigerian border closure ,has not submitted its report to the Economic bloc Authority of Heads of States and Government for Consideration.  


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