Ogun I: Compt. Shuaibu Battles Smugglers To Ruin

By Stephen  Ubanna

When Compt. Shuauibu Ahmadou Bello,, was deployed to Ogun I, headquartered at Idiroko in Ikpokia Local government Area of Ogun, home state of former President Olusegun Obsanj o, which was basically an Interventionist Command by Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, MFR, Customs Comptroller General last Septembern obody gave him opportunity to succeed.

This is because of the over 90 illegal routes that are used by the daredevil smugglers  in the south western Ogun state to carry out their nefarious activities between Nigeria and neighbouring Benin Republic aimed at  sabotaging the economy. The  activities of the smugglers , who the former Lagos stage  governor believes has ruined the economy was so bad that  he has given  his words that his Administration will do everything within its powers  in tackling  the monster  that have  bedeviled the  nation over the years.

Kashim Shettima, a former governor of the north eastern state had said that hat there are 35 established routes and other illegal routes across the country that had been discovered across the country used by the smugglers to through which food items, particular, are smuggled out of the country. The   Nigerian President had described the menacing situation as ubiquitous at the country’s Land border areas with a mandate to deniyi, the Customs Comptroller General to fight them to ruins.

Aware that in the last 10 years,  the dynamics of the nation’s Land border areas have changed   due to the activities of  Bandits, terrorist groups and drug traffickers  who had continued to use  the border areas  to bring narcotics , particular,  Cannabis sativa, popular, Indian hemp.

The Customs Compt. General may have gotten the message right that when the opportunity came  to fill the vacuum  that had  created at at Ogun I, which was basically an Interventionist Command, he has no option but to deploy Compt.Shuaibu, who had established himself as an anti-smuggling Czar at the defunct Comptroller General of Customs anti-smuggling Task Force, Lagos Zonal office, overseeing the south western states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun Ekiti and Ondo, in dealing decisively with the smugglers even with the limited staff strength.

Idiroko Land Border

Compt.  Shuaibu, described as a master strategist may have known that he could not succeed in the anti-smuggling war without carrying the Traditional Rulers, Bales and Youths of the Land Border Communities along and embarked on implementation of some Community Responsibility programmes that would give the people a new orientation to see Customs personnel carrying out their Legitimate duties as friends and not as enemies by providing information that would aid and abet the service anti-smuggling operations.

The most recent efforts that was said to have been made by the Ogun I, Area Controller was to partner with the Integration Art Palace and Tour company, founded by one Bonny Botoku, to sensitize pupils in primary and students in secondary schools  in the Lander border Communities on the dangers of smuggling to the country’s economy and the need to abstain from it.

The Customs Comptroller was said to have also established a good working relationship with the Mayor of Ifoyin Community, Igolo, in Benin Republic, described as a haven for the smugglers .With the support of the Beninois Community Mayor,   the Customs Comptroller was said to have been able to mobilize his officers to carry out surveillance operations on   the smugglers activities at the Ikpkia, Yelwa north and Imeko /Afon and Local government areas of Ogun state and to beat their plans to it.

The Youths of the Land border Communities in Ogun state may have seen the reason to support the Ogun I, Customs personnel to do their job as they no longer see the need to aid and abet the Beninois buyers to take advantage of the current exchange rate of N2,200.00 to the CFA,1000 at the country’s Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market, AFEM, to come into the Nigerian markets markets to buy the country’s cheap foodstuff to resale in their owncountry. Recall that prior to the free floating of the naira by the present Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s government, in May 29, 023, N500.00 was said to have exchanged for CFA100 at the country’s AFEM.

The Cross-border smugglers may have had it rougher because the Asian country of Thailand Association of Reice exporters are no longer finding it funny to take shipload of parboiled to.the Autonomous port of Benin, Cotonou. Informed sources told The Value News that since December 2, 2023 and now, no foreiggn ship load of rice had berthed at the Benin Republic port, fueling low economic activities at the port and subsequent drop in smuggling of rice into the country.

It was not surprising why smuggling activities at Ajegunle, Ihunbo, Ilasa, Ajelete,,  Okedan all neighbouring Communities to Idiroko, a border Community between Nigeria and Benin had scaled down in the last six months. But the smuggling situation at Ojedan a Community close to Ilaro, Yelwa north, a border Community between Nigeria and Benin with Benin Republic remains worrisome . This is where Comptroller Shuaibu and his Enforcement officers may have to to put more attention to contain the daredevil smugglers in the Area .

Until Compt. Shuaibu was deployed to the Ogun I, Command, Youths of the Communities to close to Idirokoko border were said to have always aided and abetted the smugglers to carry out their nefarious activities. The situation was as bad as the Command patrol team officers and other checkpoints personnel along the Sango-Ota – Idiroko road are always on the alert to go after the smugglers whenever there is a signal from the Idiroko Head office.

The incident that was said to occurred between April and May 2023, at Ajejunle Community where smugglers were said to have played a big drama with their smuggled goods but were contained by theCustoms personnel on duty may have given the Ogun I, Area Controller, Compt. Shuaibu , and his enforcement team room to deal decisively with smugglers on assumption of duties in September 2023.

A taxi driver, plying between the   Sango Ota , a Commercial nerve centre of Ogun state, Owode and Idiroko, had confirmed that smuggling activities had reduced to the barest minimum in the notorious Ihunbo, Ajegunle, Ajilete and Oke Odan Communities over the last six months because of the measures put in place by the Ogun I, Customs Area Controller.

The driver who is resident at Idiroko and who has been plying the busy international route over the last 10 years, had said that there was hardly a week or month a scene would not created at any of the Customs checkpoints along busy Sango -Ota -Idiroko road as the Ogun I Command patrol or checkpoint officers were said to to have always put their patrol vans on the road to pursue the recalcitrant smugglers who may have tried to outsmart the officers on duty.

He noted that on several occasions there had been a shootout between the customs personnel on anti-smuggling operations and the smugglers with loss of lives.The situation appears to be different at the border Communities for now because of the robust relationship between the Ogun I Command and the people.

 At Oke Odan, The Value News Correspondent had sighted officers, at the Checkpoint on Thursday, February 29, 2024, who were fast asleep on a long wooden chair for want of job to do while a few offices were on the road to stop vehicles to ask drivers the usual routine question: what is in your booth?

Another taxi drives plying the Sango- Idiroko route , disclosed that the harassment on the road has become unbearable as it is no longer business as usual  for them to carry load which gives them much money that they have devised tricks to conceal Contraband, particular, poultry products  and foreign rice in their vehicles .

It was not surprising why they have resorted to keeping the booth of their vehicles open at all points in time to give the impression that there is no 50Kg bag of rice, Pneumatic tyres or second hand clothing and cartons of poultry products concealed in their vehicles.

Recall that prior to Shuaibu’s deployment to the Ogun I, Command, the Language of officers at the checkpoint to the drivers was: how many bags or ice, cartons of poultry or bales of second handing are in your booth.  An eyewitness account informed The online Magazine that until the deployment of Compt. Shuaibu to the Ogun I, Command, they were making god business plying the sango-Ota –Idiroko road as they could easily carry five bags of foreign  rice, of 50 Kg each, and make a settlement of N2,500.00 on the road to avoid being delayed or the  bags of rice dropped  to be transferred to the Ogun I, Command’s office or Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos.

The recent incident at FOU, Zone B, Kaduna, where an officer, one Mohammad Dahiru Ahmad, was arrested  along Mokwa-Jebba Road  in Niger, home state of Ibrahim Babangida, a retired Army General and former Nigerian military President,   and handed over to the Customs police on the orders of Compt. Dalha Wada Chedi  the Command Area Comptroller  for extorting over N500,000.00 from a car buyer   hould serve as an eye opener to Compt. Shuaibu to beam his searchlight on the Command Patrol team and check-point officers to ensure that they will not take  advantage of their uniform to Compromise on their job. This is because, Adeniyi, the Customs Comptroller General takes strong exceptions to such unruly behaviors.

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