oBy Stephen Ubanna
With barely six months after the bloody clash between the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Operations and Lagos Roving, Team, under the close watch of Jack Okpabi, an Assistant Comptroller, Patrol Team and smugglers ,at Iganagan and Igboora Communities, during the Administration of Usman Yahaya, a one –time Comptroller of the Command, now retired,the House Committee on Customs have opened up on the matter, insisting that the Nigeria Customs , must pay Compensations to the victims of the attack.
May see the Lawmakers demand on Customs Authorities to pay Compensation to those killed during the shoot between Customs Operatives and smugglers at the Igangan and Igoora operation, as a plot to frustrate the Hameed Ali, a retired army Colonel and Comptroller of Customs and the Customs Interventionist Unit from doing their work of curtailing the activities of smugglers across the country. The House Committee on Customs under the Chairmanship of Leke Abejde, may have decided to take on Kehinde Hussain Ejibunu, the current acting Comptroller of FOU, FOU, Zone, A, on the July, 2021, incident at Igangan and Igboora Communities in Oyo state, in which the Commander of Ametokun, at Ibrapa Central and some other persons were killed to show that they are protecting their interest.
Note that for years, the Olowolo waterside, before , Igboora Community, had remained a ‘’safe haven for smugglers’’, with past and present Area Comptroller of the Command sending out Patrol Teams, mostly from the Operations and Lagos Roving, at different times, acting on information, to dispossess the smugglers of their Contraband.
Informed sources told The Value News that when the House Committee on Customs, under Hon.Abejide, extended the invitation to Ali, the Customs Comptroller General requesting that Deputy Comptroller Ejibunu, should appear before the Committee members over the alleged killing of innocent people, at Iganagan and Igboora, operations, which an eyewitness account had said were people armed with AK 47 and Locally made guns to attack the Customs personnel to forestall them carrying out their Legitimate duties.
Informed sources told The Magazine that when Deputy Comptroller Ejibunu, initially got the invitation to appear before the House Committee on Wednesdday, October 20, 201, he had the impression was that it was the Senate on Customs tha thad sent it . This is because of the hostility of Ade Fandahunsi, a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and a member of the Senate Committee on Customs, and who incidentally was a retired Assistant Comptroller General of Customs.
The Command may have prepared to face the Committee squarely because they know so much about Fadahunsi who had served the service in different capacities including heading a Customs Comptroller General Task Force on anti-smuggling Operations in the south west geo-political region which gave him and his Team members enormous powers to intercept and seize transit trucks from the neighbouring West African country of Benin and Containers released from the Lagos ports over alleged infraction.
Informed sources told The Magazine that E.I. Edorhe, a Deputy Comptroller General, overseeing the service Enforcement, Inspection and Investigation, EI&I had led the Customs Team , comprising of Acting Comptroller Ejibunu, and others including Assistant Comptroller Okpabi, who was said to have led the Igangan and Igboora operations that had turned bloody because of the hostility of the smugglers who had the backing of the Amotekum members in the area.
Indeed, the House Committee members may not have seen anything wrong in the smugglers who had the support of the Ametokum members and who had attacked the Customs Operatives as they may have relied on the petitions of the Igangan Development Advocate and reports from other aggrieved Groups and Associations in the area to show that the FOU, Zone A,Patrol Team members had raided their Communities to kill innocent people who were doing their Legitimate business at the two Ibarapa central Communities.
Recall that Theophilous Dunniya, a Deputy Superintendent and the Command spokesperson who had issued a Statement over the Igangan and Igboora, incident, had said that’’ the attack on the officers by the smugglers was unprovoked’’ thus, forcing the officers to defend themselves.
He had said that the Command Operations and Lagos Roving Patrol Team had sighted eight trucks carrying smuggled Foreign par-boiled rice of 50Kg. each from the neighbouring country of Republic of Benin whose drivers and the armed men accompanying the smugglers had Launched attack on the Customs operatives at Igbbora at the dead of night.
DSC Duniya had confirmed that some Customs and militarypersonnel of the team were shot at. An insider told The Magazine that 19 security operatives, comprising of Customs personnel, soldiers and Policemen , were would during the exchange of bullet.
The question that was said to have been thrown to Lawmakers whuch was said to have been parried was: what would the officers could have done when they came under such an attack from smugglers and their Amotekun supporters , to watch and be killed or to defend themselves.
The House Committee members on Customs may have also taken advantage of addressing the Iganagan and Igboora killings by FOU, Zon A, Enforcement officers , in a bloody clash with smugglers, to invite Chedi Wada, acting Comptroller, Katsina Command, President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, home state over the frequent clash between officers and smugglers in the state and seizure of their goods..
Nigerians would want the Federal Lawmakers to detach their personal interest over what is happening in the border Communities in their respective regions between Customs and smugglers but show more concerned on how to support the Customs Operatives to do their job of protecting the economy from the saboteurs and also help to checkmate the activities of armed wielding bandits and gun men, across the country.
There is no gain saying the fact that both not for the aggressiveness of Yahayaya, a retired Comptroller of the Command and the measures put in place by Muha one Comproller of the Command and now , an Assistant Comptroller General, and Coordinator, Zone 2, Kaduna, in Ogun and Oyo, between 2017 and 2018, which had informed why the Various Patrol Teams sent, were making appreciable seizures of Contraband.
This is evident with the Contraban seizures that was said to have been made by Mohammed Abdullahi, who who was then a Chief Superintendent , at Igbesa , waterside and Shaki, in Ogun and Oyo states, respectively. Mohammed, described as a smooth operator in Customs circles, who is now , wearing the enviable rant rank of an Assistant Comptroller had led an operation to the Igbesa waterside, described as a no go area for Customs Operatives ,because of the violent nature of the people in 2017 intercepted 17 vehicles load of Foreign rice which were transferred to the Command premises.
A similar operation was carried out by him and his Team members at Shaki, border Community, in Oyo state, in 2018. The Team and intercepted 30 vehicles load of foreign rice, which were said to have been trans loaded into trucks because of the violence of the people who had blocked the road and transferred to the Command, Ikeja, Headquarters. There were other spectacular Contraband seizures that were made by Teams that were said to have been led by Assistant Comptroller Abdullahi in Operations that were led by him.
It was not surprising why past and present Head of the Command Operations and Lagos Roving had found it necessary to saddle him with difficult assigments because they knew he will always deliver. Many believe that he may have been thrown up as a smooth anti-smuggling operator, with the number of Containes released from the nations’ premier port of Apapa, which had fallen into his Team’s hand and regularly transferred the Command premises over alleged infraction of Concealment, underpayment and false declarations.
He was said to have trained many other officers, who are said to be making spectacular seizures in the recent time to the admiration of Ejibunu, the Command Acting Comptroller.