FOU, Zone B:  Compt. Shuaibu, Takes Battles To Smugglers Camp, intercepts 445.45 Kg,Of Pangolin Scales, Worth About N4 billion  

By Stephen Ubanna

Not many  were surprised that Shuaibu Ahmadou Bello, a Customs Comptroller and Area Controller , Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone B, Kaduna, is doing a repeat  of what did in  anti-smuggling operations as  Area  Controller, Ogun I, Command, Idiroko, overseeing  Ogun, former President         Olusegun Obasanjo, home state  in the north western states of Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto, amfara, Kebbi, Kano , Jgawa and the north central states of Benue , Plateau, Niger, Nsarawa, Kogi and Kwara .

The initial worry of sceptics was that that the anti-smuggling czar may not be able to effectively monitor the activities of the Command patrol team officers in Sokoto,     Zamfara, and Katsina and Kebbi, described as smugglers   haven because of the large size of the states which share boundary with the neighbouring Republic of Niger.

Unknown to the sceptics, the Customs Comptroller, who is a team player knows how to put his officers involved in anti-smuggling operations under firm control to ensure that the right thing is done.  Indeed, from the onset, the Patrol team officers and those at the various checkpoints in the 13 states under the jurisdictions of the interventionist unit, were said to have known that the Customs Comptroller is not a pushover and could not be easily manipulated, let alone lied to in order to curry his favour without being caught in the act that they were forced to go all out to make Contraband seizures, which had been normal business in the northern states over the years.

Barely two weeks after the seizure of large Consignments of donkey bones and dried meat, described as threat to the economy, Compt. Shuaibu, who has never rested on his oars since t he took over from Dalha  Cheldi Wada, now Comptroller Investigations, at the Customs Headquarters, Enforcement, Investigation and Inspections Department, supervised by Mohammed Bello Jibo, had moved into action: taking the ant smuggling war to the smugglers’ camp.

Informed sources told the Value news that the Customs Comptroller has been able to send his patrol team officers to areas they had dreaded going to in the past, in Sokoto, Katsina, Zamfara and kebbi  states and  are making Contraband seizures,  that had remained a big shock to many.

Donkey bones and dried meat   dealers, who have been much heat war since Compt.Shuaibu , mounted the saddle last February, in the Command were said to have said to the  ears of the Customs Comptroller that they never knew   that  dealing on donkey bones and dried meat, which is an endangered species,  was an infraction as contained in the Customs and Excise Management Act. CEMA, 2003, that was signed into Law by the former Katsina state born Nigerian President in April, 2023.

 The revelation of some of the donkey bones and dried meat dealers to the hearing of the no- nonsense anti-smuggling Czar, may have strengthened his resolve to stop the trade on such endangered species iems in all nooks and crannies of Kaduna,Katsina, Kebbi and other northern states under the  jurisdictions of the Command, that the VIP, smugglers have cried out for help.

Sacks of pangolin scales intercepted in Kebbi state by FOU, Zone B, Operatives

One of the major Contraband seizures  that may have  shocked many  in the recent time by the FOU, Zone B, Command  was that of a 445.45 Kg  of Pangolin scales  valued at about N4 billion. Compt. Shuaibu may have proved  bookmakers wrong  that it is not  Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre, that endangered species , Pangolin scales , are traded  but in every part of Nigeria.Acting on intelligence gathering, the Command was said to have successfully    intercepted   a large consignment   of Pangolin scales    in Kebbi,  a border state between Nigeria and Republic of Niger .

Giving an inside information, the FOU, Zone B, Area Controller,  had said that  when  they got the information  about the pangolin scales from their development partners , they kept it a closely guided secret and kept the area under strict surveillance to monitor the movement of the occupants of the house where the  endangered species pangolin scares were kept.

Convinced that the coast is clear for the officers to strike, the Customs Comptroller was said to have given the nod to the team   to storm the hideout, known as the slaughter House   in the suburbs of    Zuru town in the north western state, circles,   on Friday, May 31, 2024.

The patrol team that were said to have  carried out the operation in   in the suburbs of Zuru town were  said to have found   sacks of pangolin scales   which were evacuated   and transferred to the Command headquarters in KKaduna  for thorough examination and valuatoion.

Compt. Shuaibu, was said to have sounded a note of warning to the endangered species dealers that the Command will continue to go after them because pangolin and other endangered species   are protected by the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flura, CITES.

Pangolin scales intercepted in Kebbi state

The Cusoms tArea Controller has every reason to be hard on the donkey bones, dried a meat and pangoline scales traders because’’ Nigeria is a signatory   to the CITES, Convention and all forms of trading in these species which are’’ clearly illegal’’. An elated Compt. Shuaibu , had told those that cares to listen,  that the NCS, under the close watch of Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, MFR, will continue ‘’to partner   with CITES, ‘’ to forestall  the  identified  species   from going into extinction’’.

Given the tight security that had been mounted in the area to monitor   the movement of people in and out of the slaughter house in the suburbs of the Zuru town, in Kebbi state,   one of the suspects, believed to be  the son of the major suspect was arrested in connection  with the seized pangolin scales as the alleged father   was said to have  escaped into thin air.

 Although, the major suspect and dealer of the 445.45Kg, pangolin scale is on the run, Compt. Shuaibu, has left no one in doubt that the Command will work closely with sister security and intelligence agencies until the economic saboteur who is on the run and who has contravened Section 55(I), paragraph C and I, of the CEMA, 2023, is arrested and made to face the full weight of the Law.

. The FOU, Zone B, Kaduna, Customs helmsman ,   , who had said that the ‘’the success  of the operation  of the pangolin scales seizures is unique, had confirmed that  ‘’there was no casualty figure’’,   warning that ‘’those   involved  in the illegal trafficking  of endangered species  but are still hiding  under it to launder   money   used in procuring drugs , arms  and  other illegal  merchandise  will be dealt with decisively’’. 

Appealing to the general public   ‘’to continue to cooperate   and stand with the  Command on the renewed  fight  against  smuggling  in the north western and north central geopolitical regions, he noted that ‘’it is the only way to salvage the country  and to actualize  the dream of the country’s founding fathers’’.

He was said to have sent a message to the smugglers and their sponsors  that the game is up  as the Unit will continue   ‘’to enforce the Federal Government  Fiscal  policies  on  Contraband   with the best international practices, no matter the campaign of calumny against the service’’.  

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