By Elizabeth Chukwuma
S For years , smugglers operating within the Creeks in the south –south states of Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom , Cross river and Rivers to bring into the Nigerian Market Contraband particular, Foreign par boiled rice may have been succeeding in do so. But the outbreak of the Wuhan Town in Hebei Province of the Asian Country of China, emerged coronavirus , popular, COVID 19, appear to have exposed them.
This is because Kayode olusemire, Comptroller ,Federal operations Unit, FOU, Zone C , Owerri, Imo state, and his Operational officers were said to have beamed their search light on goods, particular, foreign par boiled rice, found on the Niger Delta roads to ensure that that they were smuggled from the Creeks. The situation is so bad for the smugglers using the Creeks to carry out their nefarious business that many of them were said to have lost their goods in the recent time.
Investigations by The Value News shows that Ahmadu Shuaibu, a Deputy Comptroller, in-charge of the Command Operations and his officers had stepped up their anti-smuggling operations by mentoring in the Niger Delta states of Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Cross river and Rivers, which had facilitated in intercepting in some vehicles in which the Asian country of Thailand had been Concealed in the booth and the body of the vehicle. The quantities of Foreign par boiled rice that were said to have been found from the intercepted range between 100 bags of ‘’50’’ to 300 bags ‘’50’’ each. The intercepted vehicles, allegedly concealed with the Contraband vehicles emerging from the Creeks to the major road. The intercepted vehicles Concealed with the Contraband were said to have been taken to the government Warehouse Owerri.
It is not surprising why the Government warehouse , Owerri,, is swarming with seized rice and seized and detained vehicles. The Magazine undercover Reporter who had witnessed one of the vehicles intercepted on the road and forced to divert its movement to Governemnt warehouse Owerri, recently was said to have Concealed between 200 bags of ‘’50’’ each , which was emptied into the warehouse and the vehicle also detained in the premises.
Only recently the Command was said to have intercepted a vehicle concealed with Catridges alleged to have been smuggled into the region from the Creeks. Maritime analysts believe that With the close monitoring of the goods coming from the Creeks in the Niger Delta region by the Olusemire’s boys may have sent a signal to the Creek based smugglers that it is no longer safe for them to push their Contraband into the Nigerian market.
The question on the lips of most people was: how did these Contraband , particular, the Foreign rice, from Benin Republic, allegedly trans-loaded from the mid sea find their way to the Creeks in the Niger Delta region when Nigerian Navy and the Marine Police are busy patrolling the Nigerian Water Ways on a daily basis. This clearly shows that there may have been connivance between the security agencies personnel and the smugglers on the Nigerian waters, to find their way to the Creeks with the contraband, particular, Foreign par boiled rice.
This is where Ndarni Joseph, Comptroller, Eastern Marine Command, of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, and his officers may have to step up their surveillance of the Creeks before moving in its fast moving vessel, to track the smugglers. The Group of II, vessel had been allocated to it for its anti-smuggling Operations by Hameed Ali a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, NCS, some two years, ago in order to strengthen their operations.
Many believe that the quantities of the seized Contraband at the Government warehouse ,Owerri , and the detained and seized vehicles , in the premises including intercepted Containers from the south east ports was big enough to encourage Olusemire, the Area Comptroller, to call a Press Conference , to showcase the achievements of the Command in the last three months . He may have been reluctant in doing so because of the Nigerian Center For Disease and Control, NCDC, and the World Health Organisation, WHO, a health agency of the United Nations social distancing rule to curb the spread of the COVID 19, disease in the country.
Insiders told The Magazine that the situation at the Government ware house, Owerri, was not different from what the Enforcement officers at Delta and Edo states had done ‘’as the Government House , Benin, the Edo state Capital has been filled to the brim with seized Contraband, particular rice ‘’, an officer said. ‘’
This is where Ali, the Comptroller general , may have to move fast to seek Presidential approval to evacuate the Contraband, particular the rice and other perishable items in all the Government Warehouses across the country to the Internally Displaced Peoples IDPs, Camp, in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states including the motherless babies homes in different parts of the country.
This will help to avoid a repeat of what happened when 155 trucks load of Foreign rice were handed over to the ministry of Humanitaria Affairs , Disaster Management and Social Development for distribution to the states to be shared shared to the poor and vulnerable in the society.
Recall that some of the states, had described it as a killer rice. It was a big problem between Seyi Makinde , governor of the south west state of Oyo and the Customs Comptroller General as the duo traded blames. The customs Authorities had shifted the blame to the National Agency For Food and Drug Administration, NAFDAC, for not doing their work before allowing the allocations of rice approved for the states from the various Government warehouses across the country were released to them.