FOU:How Soldiers And Other Security Agencies Personnel Sabotage Customs Anti-smuggling Efforts

By Suleiman Umaru

For years officers and men of the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos state, had been complaining of the activities of the soldiers and other security agencies personnel in Ogun an dOyo states states sabotaging their antismuggling efforts but nobody took them serious.

But that had not stopped the FOU Zone A, anti-smuggling officers in different parts of the south west states of Ogun, Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo, fom doing their work to bring the smugglers in the six south west states on their knees.

The anti-smuggling war in the region appears to have   become more pronounced in the three years with the establishment of  the Comptroller General Of Customs, CGC, Strike Force and the Border Drills to compliment the efforts of the FOUs across the country.

 the FOU, Zone A, anati-smuggling officers in the south west region, are actually doing their works as expected but the activities of the  security agencies  personnel including  the moles in Customs  who had turned themselves into smugglers and  informant have not helped matters.  

 This may have informed why despite the millions of naira  worth of  goods that had been lost by these unrepentant smugglers to the government through Customs Patrol Teams operations in the the region, are waxing strong in the business on a daily basis.

  Maritime watchers averred that in this six  south west states, thousands of ‘’50’’Kg bags Foreign par boiled rice, Hundreds of 50 litres each of Jerry Cans  of Vegetable oil and Premium Motor Spirit, popular, Patrol, bundles  of Textile materials , bales of second hand  clothing,  second hand bags and tyres including exotic vehicles were said to have been impounded and transfered to the Government Warehouse, Ikeja.

The Contraband were said to have have been smuggled into the south west region from Benin Republic through porous routes that are scattered all over the border states of Ogun and Oyo.

Signs that Customs patrol Teams Operations, in Ogun and Oyo states , are being sabotaged are evident particular, as closely –guided secret movement of anti-smuggling Teams  and those of the adhoc Teams in the state, and their plans to tackle the unrepentant smugglers,  had alsways filtered out to the Camp to the smugglers in these state. The fallout was that the smugglers who were known to have entered the net of anti-smuggling Teams have suddenly escaped.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari, had banned the importation of foreign  rice and vehicles into the country through the Land border on January I, 2017. This was quickly  followed  up on August 2018, with the closure of the land borders across the country  with the neighbouring  West African countries of Benin Republic, Niger and the Central African country of Cameroon.

 The closure of the country’s borders wih thse neighbouring may have forced both the smugglers and the FOU, Zone anti-smugglers and thoses at the approved Checkpoints in Ogun , Lagos and Oyo states to go back to the drawing to perfect their strategies.

The directive given by  Hameed  Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, at the instance of the Katsina state state born Nigerian President , that all filling stations 20 Km, to the border Communities across the country  should be closed down may have given license to the neighbouring to make nonsense of the Economic Community of West African state Trade protocol . The countries were said to have provided a base for the smugglers to operate and sabotage Nigeria’s economy. this is because hundreds of the ship load of Foreign parboiledshipped into two Benin Republic ports end into the Nigerian market while some fell into the waiting hands of FOU Zone A, CGC, Strike Force, and Border Drills , sector 1, Ikeja, patrol officers.

Yahaya: DC And Acting Comptroller, FOU, Zone A.

 John Okam, who is  into fireworks  disclosed  that they work in Collaboration with both Customs and other security agencies personnel to facilitate the  easy passage of their smuggled ‘’50’’ bags of Foreign  par-boiled rice and Vehicles procured  from Benin Republic into the Nigerian market.

He disclosed  that no  smuggler could summon the courage  to put an  importer’s or Cross-border trader’s  Consignment or vehicle on the road for far of losing to FOU, Zone A, pesonnel. without the consent of their  security agencies personnel Collaborators ad cleared the road fo them.

 He further disclosed that before a Civilian  smuggler could have the courage to put an importer’s  goods or vehicle  which are Contraband  going by the government Fiscal policy measures  on the road, he  must have have booked it at the relevant checkpoints.

this was what the foreign rice , Vehicle and Patrol smugglers were enjoying in Ogun and Oyo states, particular, prior to the Border closure.  But some three years ago, the FOU , Zone A, personnel, at the Iebu-Ode Check point, Ogun state, had intercepted  some exotic  vehicles including bullet proof heading to the  south east  under   heavily guarded armed Soldiers  escort. The soldiers were said to have bulldozed their way at the check without being stopped for the routine checkss of the vehicle documents.

the information was said to have filtered out to the Officer in-charge of the Checkpoint who was said to be very busy in their makeshift office attending to some urgent mattaters which rquires the Comptroller’s attention. He was said to mobilised some operational vehicles on ground and selected armed officers and pursued the soldier smugglers.

The Ijebude Ode Checkpoint checkpoint officers were said to have caught up with the soldiers around Ondo axis but the soldiers refused to hand over the keys of the vehicles to the Team. The Customs personnel were said to have overpowered the soldiers and dispossessed them of the smuggled vehicles which were transferred to the Command premises.

 Although,  FOU,  Zone A. and the two other Complimentary ad-hoc Teams,  had tighten up  security on the major  roads and push paths  leading to the Border Communities in Ogun and Oyo states, in the recent time, the smugglers are  still finding their way out of Benin Republic with their smuggled goods into the south west states of Ogun and Oyo  through  the  bush path for distribution into  the Nigerian markets.

    Kayode Olusemire, Comptroller, FOU C,  may have been waiting  for such smugglers  that may escape the eagle-  eye of the FOU, Zone A anti-smuggling personnel, as he  had vowed to get them, stressing that his Patrol Team officers  are everywhere and on the major roads between Edo and Ondo, a south west border state with the south east.

FOU: Seized Jerry Cans Of 50 Litres Each of PMS At Gbaji Checkpoint

An eyewitness account of  a recent operations of the FOU, Zone, A, Special Operations Team at Oyo state, speaks volume. The source gave an insight into the activities of the  security  agencies personnel  turned  smugglers and informant to smugglers.

 Usman Yahaya, a Deputy Comptroller and the  acting Comptroller, of the FOU, Zone A,  was said to have detailed  Jack Okpabi , who is now an Assistant Comptroller,   to Head to Oyo with his Team on a Special assignment  to flush out the Foreign rice smugglers and block all illegal  routes used by the smugglers  to  carry out their nefarious activities.

The Team may not have made   any Contraband seizure  despite  laying ambush for the smugglers at various strategic locations in the state. A resident of Ogbomosho town in the state disclosed that Security  agencies personnel  had Ssabotaged the Special FOU Zone A, Team y giving out information about their operation in the state.

It was, therefore, not very surprising that  the  Foreign rice  smugglers operating in the two south west states of Ogun and Oyo and their security agencies personnel  Collaborators  were very happy  when it was Confirmed thatJack, the FOU, Special operations Team, Leader, in the state  had been withdrawn to the office to Head the Command Operations and Lagos Roving Team.

 Patrol smugglers and their security Operatives Collaborators    at the ancient town of  Badagry  and Owode, a border town between Nigeria and Benin Republic in Lagos state were also said to be very happy that the Customs Assistant Comptroller had been moved to the Command office from the Gbaji Checkpoint. jack and his boys were said to have give n the patrol smugglers in Badagry and Owode sleepless night.

 In one of the operations that was said to have been led by him to an Area described as ‘’ a point of no return in Badagry’’, by the people, they were said to have taken delivery of  3,000 Jerry Cans of  50 litres each of Patrol  intercepted by  Nigerian Civil Defense Commission which were transferred to the Command premises at Ikeja.  

Aware that  smuggling of petrol  and Foreign are the major business of the Youths of Badagry and Owode and their sponsors, Jack and his boys were said to have turned their attention to the filling stations  and the Creeks in these Areas to ensure that the Patrol dealers do the right thing.

Despite deploying all the operational vehicles to the  Badagrys and Owode axis, where scores of Jerry Cans of  50 litres of petroleach were made on a daily basis, it had not deterred the Patrol smugglers from doing their business with their Beninnois Customers.

   penultimate Tuesday, the Magazine cited    80 Jerry Cans  of petrol of  50 litres each  in a gutter opposite the FOU Zone A, Gbaji checkpoint makeshift ofifce.

FearS appear to have gripped vehicle importers  with their clearing agents  at the Lagos ports of Tin-can Island, and Port- Multi-services Terminal Limited, PTML, including Containerised cargo importers that Jack is back to head the Command Operatons and Lagos Roving Team.

Jack who was said to have headed the   Team under Muhammed Uba Garba, a former Comptroller of the Command and now Zonal Coordinator, Border Drills, sector 3,  overseeing the north central Border states of Kwara, benue , Kogi and Niger, home state of former  Military President  Ibrahim Babangida, a retired Army General and Abdulsalam Abubakar, also a retired Army General and former Head of statehad inflicted heavy pains on tthe importers that they had cried out. 

There were instances  when  he had transferred  scores of exotic vehicles  from car  shops  to the  Customs Training College where it was detained.  Ali, the Customs Comptroller General was said to have taken advantage of the detention of some of the exotic vehicles to visit the Training  school , on the invitation of the then Area Comptroller Muhammed to see things himself.

  The speed at which the Customs Comptroller General had jumped the gutter  to enter the Customs Training Collage  field  was an indication of his appreciation to Team and the Management. Jack and his boys were said to have  harassed the fraudulent  car dealers that they were said to plotted against  him but that was how far they could go.

Maritime analysts believe that for Jack and his  Team members to do their work without failing, Yahaya, the Command acting Comptroller may have to collapse the Command Special Weapons anti-Tactical Team, SWATT, to the Operations and Lagos Roving Team to avoid creating unhealthy atmosphere of Competition  and room for Compromise. The Team was said to have been carved out by the Area Comptroller  to  weaken the powers of Riks, a  CSC, and former Head of the Team  who was said to have been redeployed to Gbaji checkpoint.

 The analysts also expect the Comptroller  to return some of functions of the Team  which he was said to have allegedly  transferred   to his office back to the Team to speed up jobs.

Many believe that going by the good working relationship that had existed between the duo over the years, the Customs Comptroller would not not hesitate to to support his long time close ally to sustain the anti-smuggling operations in the Command.    

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *