FOU: Acting Comptroller Yahaya, A Nightmare Of Smugglers And Fraudulent Agents

By Stephen Ubanna

The anti-smuggling strategies that may have been learnt by Usman Yahaya, acting Comptroller , Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja, as a one-time Deputy Comptroller, Overseeing the Command Enforcement Unit, under the duo,  Muhammed Uba Garba, now acting Assistant Comptroller General, Enforcement, Inspection and Investigation and aaMohammed Aliyu, National Coordinator, Border Drills, Zone 4, appears to be helping him in dealing with Contraband smugglers in the south west Geo-political region.

Although, he may have adopted a dictatorial style of Leadership to force the various anti-smuggling Patrol Team Leadrs of the Command to do his bidings without Complain, to ensure they make Contraband seizures, he appears to be having  his way .

 The Value News learnt that the Tuesday Weekly meetings of the  Customs Comptroller, the unit Heads, Surveilance and Patrol Team leaders including the officers in-charge of the  approved  checkpoints in the region, officers many believe that it has turned to be a war front.  This s because the FOU, Zone A ,acting Comptroller has used it as  an  opportunity to lash out at the Patrol  leaders that are not meeting their weekly targets of seizures to sit up

Yahaya: Comptroller FOU, ZoneA

A Patrol Team  leader told The Magazine that he dread  attending the Tuesdays meeting for fear   of being shouted upon by the Area Comptroller of not meeting his target. A  senior Officer told the Magazine that the FOU, Zone A, Comptroller’s style of Leadership of running the affairs  of the Command with iron hand is yielding results.

 This is because the Patrol Team Leaders and their men have taken the anti-smuggling war to the smugglers Camp in the region. The fallout was  that all the tactics that had been adopted by the smugglers to carry out their  nefarious activities with the help of their  informants  monitoring the movement and position of the FOU,Zone A, patrol Teams, are no longer rewarding.

 The smugglers who may have taken the bold initiative to brave the odds to smuggle the North American country of Vietenan,  and theAsian countries ofTailand par boiled rice  including and the Indian, Agricultural and expensive Barsmati rice, wee said to have been disappointed as most of the smuggled items had fallen into the waiting hands of Yayaha’s men on the road.

It was not surprising why Acting Comptroller Yahaya, who has the backing of Hameed Ali, a retired army Colonel and Comptroller , Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, could beat his chest that  between February 9, 2021 and  April 20, 2021, the Interventionist Unit have made seizure thousands of bags of foreign rice, 50Kg each, in the south west  states , particular, Ogun, which a former  Area Comptroller of Ogun 1, Idiroko, had said  has over 100 unapproved routes  including  seven approved routes for movement of goods and service.

  Indeed, the Unit , could make that seizure , with 80 means of Conveyance with the support of informants , who the smugglers had  said taken it  as  their responsibility and a means of livelihood to parade the bushes to locate  where their smuggled  foreign rice or vehicle is hidden and pass the information to the Customs Interventionist unit Patrol Team to strike.

 Recall that  only recently , the Command Operations and Lagos Roving Team, Headed  by Jack Okpabi , an Assitant Comptroller and his boys, acting on information had tracked 50 vehicles  leaded with foreign rice from Iseyin  and Ogbomosho borders to Ibadan Bodija market, which it raided and carted away some 2000 bags of rice, 40Kg, to the Command ,Ikeja premises.

The Rapid Response   Patrol Team of the Command was said to have made a seizure of a Dangote truck  loadeedd with  flour  but over 100 bags of foreign rice , 50Kg, each  was Concealed in in the truck at Ifo, a nearby  town, to Sango Otta, the Ogun state Commercial nerve centre.

The Command Patrol Teams may have been emboldened  to make the spectacular seizures, particular, the Command Operations and Lagos Roving because of the ban on the importation of Foreign rice and vehicles, through the Land border on January 1st, 2017, by President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General which  has not been reviewed.

An elated Yahaya had said’’ the seizure was’’simply a  pointer  to the fact that smugglers are unrelenting  and adamant in complying  with the extant Laws on international trade and transit cargoes imports’’.The Customs Comptroller who could not hide his feelings  had told those that cares to listen that  that items such as  foreign frozen poultry products, second Hand Clothing and used tyres, Spagheti,  toothpicks, used vehicle, foreign rice and many more  which  have been  banned from coming the country through  the nation’s Land borders and remained banned were seized.

Given an insider information of the seizures that had been made  by the Command in its anti-smuggling  drive, between February 9 and April 20, 21, he had said that 20,538 bags of foreign rice of 50Kg each, 3,106 cartons  of frozen poultry products, 1,035 bales of second hand Clothing, and 877 bales  of  the Asian country of China printed Wax /materials were seized.

 Valuation Experts had put the Duty Paid Value, DPV, of the seized items at N3.1billion.The Command was said to have also recovered N242,251,506.00, lost revenue, which could have entered  into private pockets through the issuance of Demand Notice, DN, to guilty importers  over alleged under-payment resulting from false declaration wrong classification and Concealment.

The FOU, Zone A, Customs Comptroller, quoting from the Customs and Excise Management Act, CEMA, Cap 204, at the background of the planned probe of the Ibadan Bodija Foreign rice market raid by a Patro Team from the Command  by the Lawan Ahmad led Senate  had said that that Law has  given  the Customs Operatives  ‘’the powers  to patrol and search anywhere without restrictions’’.

He noted that  that section 147  of the Act gave the service  personnel the powers ‘’to  enter any premises without search warrant’’, provided there is credible information  on prohibited  items deposited  herein for us to strike.   He further said that the power to seize Contraband items and prosecute offenders was also embedded in sections 46 and 47 respectively.

 He stressed that offenders are liable to prosecution without the option of fine. It is not urprising why the nine  arrested suspects in connection with the Contraband seizures that were made by the Command within the period under review   had been dragged to a Federal High Court in Lagos  to face the  full weight of the Law.

Peter Duniya, a Deputy Superintendent of Customs and the Command spokesperson, who had issued a Statement on the Command activities m had said that seven of the suspects were granted Administrative bails.       

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