By Stephen Ubanna
Comptroller Auwal Mohammed, overseeing, PortHarcourt Area II, Onne , in s Rivers state, south south –south Nigeria, appears to have set monthly revenue standard of N115 billion meaning that any other Comptroller being deployed to the Command in the future must be prepared to beat the record to avoid running into trouble with Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service,NCS.
Many believe that the Command could achieve all that because of the blockage of all the areas of revenue Leakage at the port and the tight security at the exit gate manned by Mahmood Ibrahim, a Deputy Comptroller, regarded in Customs circles as a Compliant officer because of his insistence that the right thing must be done and who has been elevated to the enviable rank of Comptroller, by Executive Fiat.
He was elevated alongside Usman Yahaya, a Deputy Comptroller, saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, FOU, Zone A, which has the south west states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun , Ekiti and Ondo, under its jurisdiction to minimize smuggling activities in the region . The Interventionist Unit, through its various anti-smuggling Teams, particular the Command Operations and Lagos Roving under the close watch of Jack Okpabi , an Assistant Comptroller, have also put a close tab on the Lagos pots of Apapa, Tincan Can Island , Port Multi-services Terminal Limited, PTML and other other Bonded Terminals in the nation’s Commercial nerve centre to forestall flying of Containers and other fraudulent activities at the Lagos ports.
The Value News learnt that ever since information filtered out that the Command is making is making such an impressive monthly revenue collection in the recent time which have never the case in the past as the Command monthly revenue had never gone beyond N7 billion monthly revenue collection. Importers with their agents are worried that these have exposed majority of them as being fraudulent. The Magazine gathered that the those who could no longer bear the heat from the exit have been forced to become trade Compliant by making correct declarations and making appropriate payment of import duties to avoid running into trouble.
The Magazine gathered that even Concealment of Contraband goods by importers by importers which are usually smuggled out from the port in the past had reduced considerably as most of the guilty who had been caught at the exit have lost the goods to government.
Informed sources told The Magazine both for the recent protest by the Ogoni Youths Federation , in conjunction with other Youth groups in Ogoni land which paralysed the Nigerian Ports Authority , NPA, operations, late July, 2021, forcing Merskline shipping line to have threatened to close down its Port harcourt office to avoid attack on its personnel in July 27, 2021.
The protest was said to have also paralysed the PortHarcourt Area I1, Command, operations as importers with their agents could not take delivery of their Containers at the port, West African Container Terminal and other bonded terminal around the port for fear of being attacked.
The Ogoni Youths were said to have embarked on the protest to draw the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari , a retired Army General to the plight of the people due to the deplorable Ogoni section of of the Est –West road including the non-completion of the flyovers at Akajo, Aleto, Alesa Onne junctions respectively. The Ogoni Youths may have succeeded in paralyzing activiities at the Onne port , which has a link with the Ogoni axis of the Eat west road and which is very strategic to the PortHarcourt Refinery and Company, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, currently undergoing rehabilitation work and about 300 other multi-national Companies , operating in the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone.
The protests may have sent a signal to the the Katsina state born Nigerian President that something urgent needed to be done to fix the Ogoni section of the East –West road to prevent another round of protest that may not do the economy any good.
There are indications that both for the organized protest by the Ogoni Youths, the PortHarcourt Area II, Customs Command could have generated more than N16 billion in the month of July because of the structures put on ground to boost its monthly revenue collection. The good news was that the Command never t allowed the Ogoni Youths protest to dampen its enthusiasm to do their work despite the threat to their lives as the Command was said to have s made an impressive revenue collection of about N14 .
The call off the protest may have forced Muhammed, Port Harcourt Area II, Comptroller and his officers to go back to the drawing board to ensure that the revenue collection in the month of August will be much higher than the revenue collected in the month of July, described as a month of protest in Ogoni Land, which paralysed port operations. Recall that between January and June, 2021, the Command had generated N78.17 billion.
Maritime analysts are optimistic that with the impressive revenue generation of he Command in the month of June, the Command may hit the N100 billion target this year as all hands on deck to achieve it.