By Stephen Ubanna
For years, there had been rumours making the rounds that foreign par boiled rice are being smuggled into the Nigerian market from J5. Community within the Seme/Krake Joint border. The Value News took time out on Friday, February 26, 2021, to monitor what is happening at the Community and its environs.
The Magazine in its undercover reporting went into the surrounding bush near the Community, in search of where to buy a 50Kg bag of foreign par boiled rice at ccheap price from smugglers. The Magazine found that it was very difficult for a 50Kg bag of the Asian countries of Thailand, India or Vietenam , par boiled rice to be smuggled into the J5 market as alleged. This is because of the presence of the Seme Customs Command Patrol Teams around the Community.
A trader who spoke to The Magazine disclosed that Adahunson Rashid, a Deputy Comptroller, overseeing the Command Enforcement Unit, at the instance of Mohammed Jibo, the Area, Comptroller, had regularly deployed Patrol Teams to raid the J5 market to confiscate bags of 50Kg each, foreign rice displayed in the open market or stall.
The Magazine gathered that the Patrol Team seizures may not have been in tens of bags of 50Kg each of foreign par boiled rice at the market but in trickles of three to five bags from the low profile smugglers because of the tight security mounted at the area by Deputy Comptroller Rashid and his boys.
A driver plying between Lagos and Seme-Krake Joint land border disclosed that even if a firework person succeeds in beating the Customs personnel at the border Community to hide a bag of rice in his bunker boot, he may still find it difficult to beat Customs personnel at the Gbaji Checkpoint.
Note that that the government approved checkpoint, are the Seme Command, FOU, Zone A, Border Drill , Lagos Zonal office and CGC, Strike Fore Team A, personnel, and who are strategically positioned to search vehicles coming into the country from the neighbouring west African countries of Benin Republic, Togo, or Ghana.
Some cross border trader drivers who had attempted to test the will of the officers at the Gbaji checkpoint were said to have been disappointed as the 50Kg bags of parboiled rice neatly Concealed bags of foreign par boiled rice found in their vehicle boots had been seized. The Magazine cited two operational vehicles of the Seme Command loaded with such foreign par boiled rice seizures along the Badagry- Seme road on Friday, February 26, 2021.
With the daily transfer of the intercepted foreign bags from the fireworks by the Patrol Teams in different locations within Seme Jurisdiction may have informed why the quantities of bags of foreign bags of rice of 50Kg each had hit a little above four thousands between January and February, 2021. But for the fact that Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouk, led ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development had regularly carted away allocations of seized foreign rice to the Internally Displaced People, IDP’s Camps in the north and Registered Motherless Babies homes in different parts of the country , the Seme Government would have been filled to the brim with seized Foreign rice.
Given the insufficient operational vehicles and inadequate personnel at the Seme land border, may have informed why the vehicles quickly discharged and the seized bags of rice , which was said to have been counted and document before returning back to their Checkpoint to join their Colleagues to sustain the tempo of their routine checks on vehicles to ensure that no Contraband enters or leaves the country as directed by Hameed Ali, a retired army Colonel and Comptroller General, NCS.
But for the fact that the Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouk, led ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development had regularly carted away allocations of seized foreign rice to the Internally Displaced People, IDP’s Camps, in the north and the Registered Motherless Babies home in different parts of the country , the Seme Command government warehouse couldould have been filled to the brim with seized Foreign rice.Take for instance, last year, alone , the ministry was said to have carted away to the various IDPs and motherless babies homes in different parts of the country 15,000 and 25,000 bags of 50Kg each at different times.
Many believe that he recent operations by the FOU, Zone A, Operations and Lagos Roving Team, headed by Jack Okpabi, an Assistant Comptroller of Customs, that had blocked the smugglers, popular, fireworks, at the Igbeleri Junction , Okokomako,, allegedly coming from an undisclosed location along the Lagos –Badagry Express Way may have informed why Jibo, the Seme Command, Area Comptroller, gave a matching order to Rashid, a Deputy Comptroller, overseeing the Command Enforcement Unit to tighten up security around the Creeks within the Seme and Badagry Jurisdictions.
An informed source told The Magazine that there are about 15 identified Creeks and watersides around the Seme and Badagry Jurisdictions alone. The most popular creek and waterside, used by the Smugglers were said to be at Araromi and Badagry .
This may have informed why the Seme Deputy Customs Comptroller had regularly led Patrol Teams to police the Creeks and watersides in Badagry areas. An insider informed The Magazine that on two different occasions the smugglers had laid ambush for the Seme Patrol Team but were disappointed as they were overpowered forcing them to flee. An witness account informed The Magazine that that the smugglers were lucky to have escaped as the Seme Patrol Team officers led by the Customs Deputy Comptroller could have killed one or two of them.
It was not surprising that when information filtered out that some vehicles loaded with foreign rice and Poultry products smuggled into the country allegedly from the Creeks had been blocked along the Lagos –Seme Express Way by Usman Yahaya, the acting Comptroller, FOU, Zone A, Operations and Lagos Roving Patrol Team, Rashid, the Seme Deputy Comptroller, had no option but to deploy two Patrol Teams and equally made arrangement for soldiers to join the Teams to block Elijah and Aradagun, to ensure that the smugglers would find it difficult to return to Badagry if the Contraband was from any of the Creeks in the area.
The Seme Command officers and men at the Agbara checkpoint including the FOU, Zone A, Border Drills, Lagos Zonal office and the CGC Strike Force and the soldiers attached to the border Drill were said to have strategically positioned themselves to cage the smugglers. They may have waited in vain as the smugglers could not have come close to the Agbara location as the Jack led FOU, Zone A, Operations and Lagos Patrol Team had effectively blocked the Igbeleri Junction awaiting for them.
The Jack led FOU, Zone A ,Team members, may have acted on information to block the Igbeleri Junction for the fireworks and they got it right.The Team members were said to have stopped the smugglers with their Convoy of vehicles loaded with foreign bags of 50Kg each of foreign rice and Poultry products. Jack and his boys may have succeeded s in intercepting four vehicles loaded with the Contraband items while another 50 of the vehicles loaded with the Contraband items were said to have made a U-turn to an unknown location along the Lagos-Badagry Express Way.
The Magazine findings shows that the vehicles load of smuggled rice and the poultry products may have entered into the country through the Creek at Iyana Iyana Isasi, Community, and the one behind the Lagos Trade Fairs Complex . There are indications that the smugglers may have returned to their hideout at the Iyana Isasi Community and the Lagos Trade Fair Complex to evade arrest by Jack’s men who were said to have intercepted four of the vehicles.
A soldier at the Ojo Catonment, along the Lagos-Badagry Express-Way, disclosed that if the Seme Command, FOU,Zone A, Border Drills, Lagos Zonal Officers and the CGC Strike Fore Team A, members, including the soldiers attached to the Border Drill at the Agbara check and driven towards the Igbeleri Junction, to strengthen the FOU, Zone A, Team, the smugglers may have found it difficult to escape with their Contraband to their hideout at Iyana Isasi or the Lagos Trade Fair Complex, as they could have fallen into the waiting hands of the Customs personnel from the Agbara Checkpoint.
Indeed, the Igbeleri Junction Operation may have opened Jack and his Team members eye to beam their searchlight at the Creeks and water sides around Okomako , Iyana Isasi and Lagos Trade Fair Complex. The Igbeleri Junction open confrontation between the FOU, Zone A, personnel and the smugglers may have forced the foreign rice and poultry products smugglers to go underground in the recent time to avoid playing into Jack’s hands.