Ogun I: NCS Takes  Anti-smuggling Battles To Smugglers’ Hideouts, Generates Over N380 million, in 23 Days

By Stephen Ubanna

When Compt. Florunsho Ojo,   steped into the big shoes left behind by Compt. Shuaibu Ahmadou Bello, described as an anti-smuggling Czar in Customs circles, as the Area Controller of Ogun I, in the former President Olusegun Obasanjo home state, nobody gave him opportunity to succeed.

 Note that the opportunity for Compt.  Ojo , to mount the saddle as the Area Controller of the Ogun I, Command, may have been created by Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, MFR, the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs service , NCS, who had redeployed the former, Ogun I, Area Controller, to Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Kaduna, where the Customs helmsman, According to an insider believes that his services  is  most needed  as an experienced enforcement officer to effectively confront  the increased smuggling activities in the  13 states that make up the north western and north central regions that fall under the Interventionist Unit Jurisdictions.

 The seven  states that make up the north western geopolitical region includes  Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kaduna,   Katsina, former President Muhammadu Bhari, home state while the the  six states in north central geopolitical region  comprises  of   Benue, Plateau, Kwara, Niger, Kogi and Nasrawa.   Nigeria and    Republic of Niger share common borders via Sokoto, Zamfara, described as haven for the Bandit Groups trigger hungry fighters, Kebbi, Katsina and Jigawa states axis.

Those who thinks that a  vacuum has been created in prosecuting the anti-smuggling battle in the south west state of Ogun, where there are over 90 illegal routes used by the smugglers carrying out their nefarious activities between Nigeria and the neighbouring Benin  with the redeployment of Compt. Shuaibu,would be disappointed.

Compt Ojo: : Area Controller, Ogun I

This is because from the onset, the new Ogun I, Area Controller, had made the smugglers and their sponsors  in the border Communities of Idiroko, Ajelete Ohynbo, Ilara, Ijoun, Tobolo , and Ilaro in Ipokia, Imeko Afon and Yewa North Local government Areas  to understand that they have no reason to celebrate over the redeployment of Compt. Shuaibu to FOU. Zone B, Kaduna. He was said to have drummed it to their hearing that he will sustain’’ the tempo of the anti -smuggling war initiated by the immediate past Area Controller of the Command that could not be penetrated, let alone being compromised.

 Between April 16, and Tuesday, May 7, 2024, Compt. Ojo, appears to have proved that he may not be in the class of experienced enforcement officers like Comptrollers Shuaibu, his predecessor or Hussain  Kehinde Ejibuno and Kayode Kolade, both former Area Controllers of FOU, Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos and FOU, Zone C, Owerri, south eastern Nigeria  but has vowed to deliver on the mandate given to him by the Customs Comptroller General.

 True to his words, he may have made a bold statement when he started dispossessing the unrepentant smugglers of their smuggled contrabands in their hideouts in the former President Obasanjo home state without any exchange of bullet that could have led to loss of lives.

Contraband seizures by Ogun I, Command

The monumental Contraband seizures that had been made by the Ogun I, Command, under the Leadership of Compt. Ojo and his officers in prosecuting the anti-smuggling war within 23 days in office may have informed why he has organised a press briefing on Thursday, May 9, 2024, to showcase what the Command had achieved, warning the smugglers that he is all out for them.

 He may have sent a message to the smugglers,’’ to embrace legitimate trade’’ as the Command will continue to be ahead of them in whatever strategy they may wish adopt to carry out their nefarious activities in the sout western Ogun state.

 Many believe that Compt. Ojo, could beat his chest that the Command is getting an upper hand in dealing decisively with the economic saboteurs in the state because of the robust working relationship between the Command other security agencies like, the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, The military and the Department of state Service, DSS, including the neighbouring Benin Republic Gendarmes.

Bonny Botoku, a bilingual Nigerian, who oversees the Integration and Art Palace and Tour Company, a non – Governmental Organization, NGO,  was said to have also supported the Ogun I, new Area Controller  in making the coast clear for him  to operate and  prosecute the Command  anti-smuggling war in the south western state with ease through sharing of information.

An lated Compt. Ojo, who may be slow in talking and very much unpredictable was said to have taken advantage of the interaction with the Journalists from   both Ogun and Lagos states to highlight the achievements of the Commands in 23 days of operations.

Compt. Ojo, showcase parcels of cannabis sativa and other items seized by Ogun I, Command

He had alluded to the fact   that when he took over the mantle of Leadership of the Ogun I, Command, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, ‘that he and his Management team has’’ hit the ground running’’ to give the smugglers no breathing space to execute their plans.

 The Customs Comptroller may have gladdened the heart of many when he disclosed that in the 23 days of prosecuting the Command anti-smuggling battle, the Ogun I, Command, had made monumental contraband seizures ranging from foreign par boiled rice, poultry products, cannabis sativa, popular, India hemp, grown from the West African countries of Ghana and Coted’Ivoire, Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular, Petrol, to pneumatics tyres.

 It could not be ascertained whether the means of conveyance of the Contraband items were also intercepted by the Command as was the case when the Niger state born enforcement officer, ompt. Shuaibu was at the helms of affair at the Ogun I, Command.

Given a break down of the total seizure, that was said to have been made by the Command, within 23, days, Mohammed Oloyede, a Chief Superintendent of Customs and the Command spokesperson, had said   in a statement that’’ it had intercepted 1,596 parcels of cannabis sativa, 2,922 bags of Foreign rice of 50Kg each, 1,603 cartons, frozen poultry products and an undisclosed quantities of pneumatics tyres.

 Valuation experts had put the Duty Paid Value, DPV, of the the seized Contraband items in the south western state by the Ogun I, Command at N380,370,911. 00, which the current Area Controller of the Command had revealed was  impounded with ‘’the aid of intensive intelligence  gathering strategies and concerted efforts of intelligence  network  such as the Customs Intelligence Unit, CIU, DSS, to name but a few.

Enough of the Ogun I, Command, anti-smuggling operations, we turn to its revenue generation drive. The Command was said to have collected the sum of N14,628,661.00  from its revenue generation  efforts which was said to have been  paid into the Federation Account.

The mouth watery revenue was said to have been generated within the 23 days through the Command Baggage assessment and auction sales of seized smuggled petrol from the creeks and waterways from the smugglers.

The Command may not have generated much revenue from the importers and exporters because of ‘’the  low trading activities between the two member countries of the Economic Community of West African states, ECOWAS, described as not’’encouraging’’.

There are indications that the incumbent Customs Comptroller General is doing everything within his powers’’ to address the identified challenges that had hindered the free flow of trade between the two West African sub-region countries.

 Indications are rife that if the Customs boss could make a breakthrough in getting the two neighbouring West African countries to improve on their trade, it will significantly enhance the revenue generation of the Ogun I, Command and the NCS, yearly revenue in general.

Appealing to the Nigerian traders’’ to remain steadfast’’, the Ogun  I,Aea Controller, was said to have assured the genuine  business men and women, of ‘’maximum Cooperation’’. Hear him: Our doors are widely open for Consultations   and required support. 

 He had said that’’ the Command, under his Leadership, ‘’ will remain resolute in carrying out the Comptroller General’s mandate in the state with utmost patriotism’’.  This may have informed why he had sought ‘’the support and cooperation of the traders’’, noting that with mutual understanding ‘’it will assist in facilitating the country’s economic growth and social wellbeing’’.            

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