FOU,Zone C And CGC Strike Force, Lagos Zonal Office Officers, Hit Hard At Smugglers

By Stephen Ubanna

 With the new tactics adopted by  smugglers operating between Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo, the  six states in the south west geo-political region and Benin Republic,  appear to have forced Kayode Olusemire, Comptroller, Federal Operations Unit, FOU Zone C and Adba Kakudi, an Assistant Comptroller and Coordinator of the Comptroller General f Customs, CGC, Strike Force, Lagos Zonal office,  to  go back to the drawing board to bring the smugglers on their kneel.

This is evident going by the seizure of Contraband that liter the premises of the Government Warehouse , Benin , the Edo state Capital,  under the control of the FOU, Zone C, and the Customs Training College, Ikeja, used by the CGC Strike Force.

 Investigations by The Value News shows that most of the Contraband seizure sieves  found  at the Benin Government Warehouse, were mostly items which  had escaped the eagle eyes of the FOU, Zone A, CGC Strike Force and the Border Drill, sector 1, Lagos Zonal office Patrol Teams along the  Lagos  -Benin and Ondo-Benin roads. They were items  that were said to have been mostly smuggled from Benin  republic into the Nigerian market.

The FOU, Zone C,  Command  anti-smuggling officers , according to insider sources, have tightened security at these two major Express Ways , which are the  major roads from Lagos and Ondo states  between   the south east and south west states.

The officers were said to have been  by positioned  at Strategic Locations to ensure  that whatever strategies adopted by the smugglers operating  in the south west  to push their smuggled Contraband  into the  south east markets of Benin and Onitsha, Anambra state, markets, were  frustrated.

The barricading of the Onitsha bridge with an iron gate  by the Anambra state government to control the movement of people   from Delta And Lagos states to the  south east on the excuse of controlling the spread of the Wuhan Town of the Hebei province of the Asian country of China emerged  coronavirus  pandemic, popular, COVID 19, appear, to have worsen the case of the smugglers  and  brightened the FOUC, Zone C Patrol Teams chances of making more Contraband seizures.

 This may have given Olusemire, Comptroller, the FOU, Zone C, to give a matching order to Ahmadu Shuaibu, a Deputy Comptroller , overseeing anti-smuggling Operations and his  officers  to give  proper attention to the Lagos- Benin and Ondo- benin Express Ways and the bush paths used by smugglers   to forestall smuggling of Contraband into the south east .

 A senior Customs officer who spoke to The Magazine on  phone  disclosed  that the security  that had been  mounted by the Command patrol Teams  on the two major major  Express Ways between Edo and the south west states of Lagos and Ondo in the recent time speaks volume.”it is impregnable the officer said”.

It is not surprising why it has become  very difficult for smugglers who may have escaped  the eagle eyes of the FOU, Zone A, CGC Strike Force or the Border Drill sector 1,  Patrol Teams and their  checkpoints at the two major  roads  to enter  Edo state with  their smuggled  Contraband such as foreign par boiled  rice, vegetable oil and second hand clothing including smuggled fairly used vehicles. Smugglers were said to have made attempts to enter the state would not forget their experience in a hurry as they were said to have lost their million naira worth of Contraband to the Command. 

The vehicles, suspected to have been released from the Lagos ports of Tin can Island and Port Multi-services Terminal Limited, PTML, without payment of the appropriate  duty, believed to be with the  connivance of   officers on the Vehicle  Seat have also ended  up being detained at the Warehouse.

. Insiders  informed the Magazine  that the seizure and detention of vehicles released from the ports  by the Lagos ports  along the Lagos –Benin or Ondo  -Benin Express Way  by the Command could  have been worse  but for the close monitoring of  the officers of the Compliance Unit, by Abdullahi Musa, popular, MBA, the Tin can Island comptroller to ensure that  Containers and Vehicles released  from the port  fulfill all the necessary conditions, particular, payment of the appropriate  duties, to avoid playing into the hand of FOU, Zone A or Zone C, personnel  along the Lagos-Benin Express Way.

 In spite of the close monitoring of the Compliance officers, many believe that  since the deployment  of Mahmud Ibrahim, a Deputy Comptroller, who was formerly in-charge of the Unit, as  an Assistant Comptroller, to PortHarcourt Area 1,Command, Onne, Rivers state, the officers  appear  to have  been let loose in their dealing with the importers and their agents. An agent agent who confided in the Magazine disclosed that they have Compromsed .

But the unlucky importers and their agents had fallen into the waiting hands  of  FOU, Zone A,  Lagos Roving under the close watch of Riks Lura, a Chief Superintendent of Customs  and  the command Enforcement Unit, patrol Teams  or the officers at the Ijebu Ode checkpoint with their vehicles which were transfered to the Command premises at Ikeja. The soft landing provided for them by Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, to pay their outstanding duty and 25 % surcharges may have forced many of them to take delivery of their detained vehicles at the Command and other FOU Commands across the country. This may have informed why some of the vehicles coming from the Lagos-Benin road had not entered Benin in the recent time except the ones coming from the Ondo axis.

  Note that the Command may not have had  much work to do  at the Benin Toll gate with vehicles or Containerised vehicles  released  from the Lagos  ports  as most of the  importers and their agents  were said to be reluctant to take delivery of  it at the ports alleging  high cost of  clearing and security agencies  personnel harassment on the road.Maritime watchers disclosed that most of the abandoned vehicles and Containerised vehicles, which are destined to the south east may have been abandoned at the port due to one infraction or the other . they may have known that the Customs officers on the road may not want to Compromise their position as was the case in the past. this is because of Ali, the Comptroller General’s repeated warning to the officers to shun every form inducent from importers and their agents and ensure they do the right thing.

Notwithstanding the efforts of the FOU, Zone , anti-smuggling officers to ensure that no Contraband enters Benin in order to Keep the FOU, Zone C, officers at the Beni toll gate less busy, they are still making Contraband seizures which had escaped the eagle eye officers at Ijebu Ode checkpoint and tranfered to the Command Benin outstation Government Warehouse.

  The situation at Government warehouse, Benin  is  not different from what is happening at Government Warehouse, Calabar, Cross river state, used by the FOU, Zone C,  Border Drill and the CGC,Strike Force, Zone C, under the close  watch of Deputy Comptroller, Adamu Abubakar  to  keep  their  impounded Contraband.

 The Calabar Government warehouse, according to insider sources is currently filled to the brim, with Contraband and now begging for space to accommodate more seized  Contraband as the patrol Team  attached to eitherto the FOU, Zone C, CGC Strike Force and Border Drill, Zone C, are  turning in Contraband, particular, rice, from the Ikom and Bakasi axis  of Cross river state on a daily basis.  

In Lagos,Adba Kakudi, and his boys appear to have learnt a lot from the strategie,s adopted  by the FOU, Zone C , to deal with the smugglers. They were said  to have also  restrategised on how to deal with the south west based unrepentant smugglers without  bloodshed  but  to dispossess  them of their smuggled Contraband .

Many of them were said to have lost million  naira worth of Contraband , particular, Foreign par boiled rice, within the Ogun and Oyo axis in the recent time.

CGC Lagos Zonal Office Security Gadgets Seizure

A visitor to the ad-hoc Team operational base at the Customs Training College, Ikeja, would be surprised at the hundreds of  50 Kg bags of Foreign rice parked at the corridor and the entrance to their office , awaiting to be transferred to the government warehouse, Ikeja,  FOR documentation.  The ad-hoc Operation Teams were said to have made the Contraband seizures along the  border routes  in Ogun  and Oyo states.

Between March 22, 2020, and April 11, 2020, an interval of about three weeks, the CGC Strike Force, Lagos Zonal office, Patrol Teams who had hit the road  , were said to have surprised people , including their Colleagues at FOU, Zone A, and the  border Drill Operatives  how they were able to make  N907.174 million in  three weeks despite  the Social distancing measure  being preached  by the Nigerian Center  for Disease and Control, NCDC, and the World Health Organisation, WHO, a United Nation’s UN, health Agency , to curb the spread of COVID 19.

 A document obtained by The magazine  shows that the Strike Force  patrol  Teams,  combing the border areas in the south west states, particular Lagos, Ogun , Oyo, and Ekiti  axis, may have  gladdened Kakudi, their Coordinator’s heart, by making  seizures of 936, ‘’50’’ bags of rice, estimated at about N12.43 million and  14 bags of ‘’8’’ bags of rice valued at N35,000.00, and 41,5000 cartons of tomato paste  valued at about N830 million.

This is in addition to Longrich products such as Soaps, and Shampo Cream, worth about N45.42 million, 340 pieces of used tyres valued at about N3.06 million,  16 bales of second hand Clothing, N8.4 million,790 cartons  of Tear gas, N4.74 million,  130 pieces of handcuffs, N1.09 million, 193 kegs  of 2 5litres each of Vegetable oil, N1.82 million, 50 Jerrycans  of 5  litres e each , 145,000.00 and an additional eight kegs  of 16 litres each  of vegetable oil worth about N71,280.00.

Customs Foreign Rice Seizures

The question on the lips of most people was why  security gadgets have suddenly become the major attraction of smugglers in the recent time that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has concluded arrangement to hold the  governorship elections in Ondo and Edo states . The Commission had fixed  September , 2020, for the Ondo state governorship election and October 10, for the Edo state’s  election.

 Security watchers believe that the importers who had sponsored the smugglers to bring the security gadgets into the country knowing security implication could not have done so without an insider support form any of the security agencies.   

The Kakudi boys were said to have seized the security gadgets along the border routes in Ogun state despite  the large array  of other security agencies personnel including FOU, Zone A, personnel, along the border Communities in the state.

this clearly shows that the importer may have been in the  business for years and using the services of the smugglers to push it into the Nigerian  market until they played into the hands of the CGC Strike Force, Lagos Zonal office officers on Patrol who were said to have   acted on information.

  The seizure of the security gadgets may have sent a signal to other dealers in the country that it is no longer going to be business as usual as the CGC Strike Force action had put  all other Customs Formations  and adhoc Teams in the south west and south east on the red alert to look out for such security gadgets alongside soft and light weapons that are being smuggled  into the country.

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