Lagos: CGC Strike Fore,Taking The Anti-smuggling War To The Smugglers CAMP


Stephen Ubanna

Between 216 and now, the Federal Operations Units, FOU, Zone A, Lagos and Zone C, had implemented the Service  anti-smuggling  operations basically  on the road where scores of Containerised cargoes   exited from the seaport over alleged wrong classifications, false declaration and under-payment including smuggled Contraband, particular, Foreign par boiled rice  smuggled into the country from the West African country of Benin Republic. Had  been  intercepted  .

The intercepted Containers  by the FOU Zone A, under the close watch of Usman Yahaya were said to have been  exited from the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tincan Island port, Port Multi-services Terminal, PTML, Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, KLT, Pphases 1&2,  while The FOU, Zone C, Owerri, anti-smuggling officers, which controlls the anti-smuggling  activities in the south east and south –south geo-polical region and which also had  its attention focused on the Containers released from the  ports of PortHarcourt Area 2, Onne, Rivers, Delta and Calabar ports, where tens of Containers had  fallen into the waiting hands of the Command  anti-smuggling officers including the ones that had escaped the eagle eyes of the FOU, Zone A,  personnel released from the Lagos ports .

The Comptroller General of Customs Strike Force, and Operations Swift Response Team, popular, Border Drills, both ad-hoc Teams , across the country, had followed the same pattern of operations of the  FOU Teams ,  to do their work: lay  ambush for smugglers and fraudulent importers trucks laden Containers on the road over the last two years.

 But the approach  appear to be gradually changing for the better without any agent , whose client’s Container had been  released from the port facing any harassment on the road  in the hands of the Lagos Zonal CGC Strike Force personnel in the recent time.

 This is  evident,  going  by the    approach that had been adopted by the Lagos Team under the close watch of Ahmadu Shuaibu, in the last four weeks to implement their anti-smuggling operations in the south west states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun , Ondo and Ekiti. The Team , according to sources had relied on the Service  surveillance unit  report and reports from other credible source to strike at  targets at the Lagos ports and the  land border areas in the region.

Given an insider information of its operations in the last one month,  Shuaibu, had  said that the had intercepted goods worth over N800 million both at the seaports and the land border areas.    The CGC Strike Force Coordinator, who was flanked by Joseph Attah, a Deputy Comptroller and Customs Public Relations officer , at the Team premises recently, had said that 13 Containers were  intercepted  around the Lagos port   environment.

 An angry Customs  Deputy Comptroller and Coordinator  of the CGC Strike Fore, Zone A, Lagos,   had said ’’that  false and dubious declarations is sabotaging the nation’s economy’’ .  He may have shocked Nigerians when he said that  the 13 Containers were sized right at the port because  it had contravened the country’s  import regulations. ‘’ We are here to fight economic saboteurs and we are  determined  to take the battle to the Smuggler’s ’amp’’’, he had said.

One of the  13 Containers seized was said to have been loaded with lace materials, though not a prohibited from importation   but  the  importer was said to have made a false declaration to evade payment  appropriate payment of duty into the government coffers.

The intercepted Container, which the importer had declared  in his bill of laden as carrying machinery tools  was said to have been loaded with 756 bundles of lace materials allegedly imported from the Asian country of China.The duty payment Value, DPV, of the 756 bundles of lace materials alone, was put at about N34 million . 

Shuaibu: Coordinator, CGC, Strike Force, Lagos Zonal Office

  Another  Container that was said to have been  seized  by CGC Strike Force, team,  was  said to have been loaded with footwear, which going by the country’s Fiscal policy is prohibited from being imported into the country. The importer may have played a fast one by falsely declaring it to facilitate its exit from the port for sales during this Yuletide  period.  The Consignment, which had a  DPV, of N32 million may not have  reached its destination as it was seized from the port environment after a 100 physical examination exposed what it was carrying and the penalty for it.

 The Customs Deputy Comptroler believes that  If the importers who had imported the seized items had made honest declaration, particular, the importer of the lace material,  the Team could not have had  any reason  to delay its release from the port, let alone seize it because it is not on the country’s list of Contraband goods.  The Statement of  the CGC Strike Force Coordinator was very clear: the importers creates the room for Customs  to seize their goods.

Enough of the Team port operations.  The Shuaibu led Team may not have given the diehard smugglers  operating between Benin and Nigeria to carry out their nefarious trade a breather.

  Insiders informed The Value News  that the Team could  achieve that much in one month because the Coordinator is usually given advance the cargo manifest which gives him an insight to what the importer had loaded into the Container. Based on the cargo manifest report,  suspected Containers were said to have been detained for proper physical examination in the presence of the importer.

  As way of dcongesting the ports, the 13 Containers seized from the port environment  were said to have been transferred to the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal for safe keeping.  The Magazine  learnt that the CGC Strike Force personnel are staioned  already on ground at the Terminal to keep a close tab on the Containers transferred to the terminal.

Informed sources told the Magazine that  the Container seizures  at the lagos ports could have been more than the 13 recorded within the one month both for the END SARS protest for much of October  which disrupted theiri operations.  With the seizures of the Containers , for wrong Classification , false and dubious declaration to evade appropriate payment of duties, the CGC, Strike Force, Lagos Zone A, office, had sent signal to the importers with their agents and their Customs Collaborators at the  ports that it is  no longer going to be business as usual as the right thing must be done. He  has made  it clear to those that cares to listen that those who fail to comply with the extant  Fiscal policies of the country would continue to have problem with the Customs. He is right. On Friday, November 13, 20, Jack Okpabi, an Assistant Comptrollerr, who had lead an operations in Lagos, was said to have intercepted six Containers  exited from the port which are currently being detained at the Government warehouse , Ikeja. The Containers are expected to be examined and DN , issued to the guilty importer. Ever since Jack  mobilized to start operations at the port environment fear  has gripped the agents and the releasing officers at the port , who are described  as the worse culprits.  

CAC, Strike Force Personnel, Lagos Zonal Office

The Customs CGC Strike Force Coordinator and his boys may not have given a breather to the smugglers operating between Benin and Nigeria to  carry out their nefarious because of the loses they had experienced in the recent time. The Team eagle eyed men on the road were said to have intercepted 2,147 cartons of Cosmetics, I,185 ‘’50’’bags of the Asian country of Thailand par  boiled rice,  1,320 bales of second hand clothing.  This is in additionto to the different brands  of vehicles intercepted by the Team anti-smuggling officers on the road. Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari  had  banned the importation of Foreign rice and vehicles through the land borders since January 1, 2017. The Presidential order to Ali, the Customs boss, that vehicles  should no longer be  imported into the country through the land border as rice was outright ban , may have given the Customs Formations, both at the seaports and land borders to be vigilant in their anti-smuggling operations which has begun to yield results.

Appealing to the fraudulent importers to turn a new leaf  by making genuine declarations, to ensure they  pay the appropriate import duties, he opined that it is the only  way the government could raise the money to  provide the needed basic infrastructural facilities in the country.  The government may hinged its hope of generating the more revenue to finance the 2020 budget  because of the drop in in oil price in the International market  due to Wuhan Town in Hebei Province of China  emerged coronavirus, popular , COVID 19.

It is  interesting to noee that the CGC Team recovered about N360 million lost revenue for the government through the issuance of Demand Notices, DN, on detained  Containers that the ports. The amount could have entered into private pockets both for the Team intervention. Given the good work of the CGC , Strike Force, particular, the  Lagos Team, Mohammed Buhari, a Brigadier General and Principal Staff Officer, PSO, TO Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, NCS, who  was said to have issued the order on behalf of the Customs General announcing the dissolution  of the old Team and the  reconstitution of the new one last October, was said to have thrown his weight on the Lagos Team to reduce the pressure on it from powerful quarters because of its aggressive anti-smuggling drive.

. One of the  Containers that was found to have contained bundles of lace  material, allegedly imported from the Asian country of China by falsely declared.’’ We are here , more than determined to take the war  to the war to the smugglers Camp’’, he had said.

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