The Value News

Customs: New Comptrollers To Start Retreat September,14, 2020, As Wada Tighten Up Security At Baba Cupa Axis And Customs Barracks Waterside At Seme Border

 

By Stephen Ubanna

 Barely two months after the Nigerian Customs  Board  under  the Chairwomanship of Hajia Zainab Ahmed, the minister  of Finance, approved the release of 2, 634 promoted senior officers, which included 37 Comptrollers, the Customs  Authorities  were said to have concluded arrangement tor for new the Comptrollers. It could not be ascertained whether the retreat  would  hold  in  Abuja, the Federal Territory , FCT, or not.

Recall  that the retreat for the 2015 promoted Comptrollers, was conducted at Calabar, the Capital of the south –south state of Cross river state while the two day retreat for the 2017 Comptrollers was conducted at the Customs HeadquarterAbuja. The retreat, according to insider sources is expected to start on September 14, 2020.   

The Value News learnt  that the circular for the retreat  have been released and the invitation sent out the Comptrollers.  them  The  Comptrollers retreat  is part of the Management  tradition in  to prepare the Comptrollers , the source Said to prepare the  elevated Deputy Comptrollers   for the  responsibilities and challenges that come with their new status  and to spur them to action.

Hameed Ali: CG, Customs

The new Comptrollers who were said  to  have  been waiting for such an opportunity going by the question most of them usually  ask among themselves: when  will  the retreat  take place?

 This is because they want to be deployed in order to start functioning as  Area Comptrollers to take decisions .They believe that  their deployment could  only be actualised   by the Hameed Ali, a retired  Army  Colonel,  led Management of the Nigerian Customs  Service after the ritual.  Unconfirmed report shows that   some of the new Comptrollers were already using their Contacts in the Management and some close retired Assistant Comptroller Generals and Deputy Comptroller Generals close to Ali, the Comptroller General to have their way.

Acting Compt CD.Wada, Seme Command

The situation is so worrisome as there have been pressure on the Ali led   Management by some of the older Comptrollers ,particular, to change his style of Administration of introducing Deputy Comptrollers as acting Comptrollers to Head  Commands  when there are tens of them at the Zonal and the Headquarters begging for deployment. 

The aggrieved Comptrollers could not understand why after writing   their promotion examination as Deputy Comptrollers which earned them the  new  rank of being Comptrollers  and they are left to roam about at the Zonal and the Headquarters with little or no serious job to do except what is assigned to them by another superior officer.

The Customs boss may have exhibited  his state of dilemma  as the Duty Comptroller , who were appointed as acting Comptrollers are not allowed to use the official Comptroller’s Hilux Van in their respective Commands. At the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, the Comptroller’s official Hilux Van is  parked  at Corner of the office Complex  and the Coat of Arm Flag  neatly folded.

  Usman Yahaya, a Deputy Comptroller and the Command  acting  Comptroller , may not have seen it as a big deal as he is still using his  offcial unbranded Hilux Van Jeep , which he had used as the Coordinatior, of the Comptroller General of Customs, CGC, Strike Force, Lagos  Zonal office, until his redeployment to the Command last January.

The situation is the same at Katsina /Jigawa Command, where Abdullahi Kirawa, a Deputy Comptroller and  the Command acting Comptroller was said to be using his official unbranded Hilux Van as  the National Coordinator, of the CGC, Strike Force, some two years ago.

 Equally, C.D. Wada, a Deputy Comptroller, and  acting Comptroller, Seme Command, which has become a shadow of itself because of the border closure  across the country with  the neighbouring West African countries of  Benin Republic, Niger and the Central African country of Cameroon, according to sources is still using  his Official Operational vehicle .

The argument in several Customs quarters was that if Ali, the Customs Comptroller General, could bow to pressure from the Cabal within the Management to  appoint Deputy Comptrollers as acting  Area Comptrollers of Commands, he should also consider it  necessary to  allow them  use the Comptroller’s  official  vehicle  to add more  dignity to the office going by what they do which may not be different from what a substantive  Comptroller Could have done. 

Sight of New Seme Border

 But the Customs Comptroller General, the source said , knows what  he is doing. This may have informed   why he has  turned a deaf ear to the Complaints of the Comptrollers but allowing the  status quo to remain.

 A senior  officer who spoke to The Magazine said the Army Colonel is impressed with the good job the acting Comptrollers  are doing in their respective Commands. Take for instance, at  Seme Command, despite the   land border closure  which has tasked the ability of the acting Area Comptroller to deliver on his mandate of  ensuring that that the government policy banning the importation of  Foreign  boiled rice, vehicles and other  items was enforced to the late with Contraband seizure that had been made between January and now.

. The Seme acting Comptroller was said to have  made things very difficult for the smugglers, illegal  immigrants and their security  agencies operative Collaborators by tighten up security at the Command loose security areas. Maritime analysts were said to have cited the  improved  security at the notorious  Baba Cupa axis and the Command Barracks waterside.

 He may have been encouraged to embark on the Border security projects because of the Contraband seizures and number of illegal    arrested at the Customs Barracks waterside alone,  while on Operations   at different times.

This may have him to   reach out to the leadership of the other security agencies at the  Boarder Community on the need to  Collaborate  to strengthen the security at these loose  smuggler and illegal immigrant routes by ensuring the participation of  all the agencies. He was said to have engaged his Counterpaarts from the NIS, BorderDrill, NIS Border Patroll, Nigerian AirFor Formy, Army, Police, Port Health and the  Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, in a marathon meeting  last Tuesday  where they agreed to bury their difference  to work  as a Team in order to achieve result. Based  on the agreement reached at the top security meeting at the Border, he was said to have been mandated to draw up a  duty post roaster for the lose security areas, particular, the Baba Cupa axis, to ensure  no one  particular, agency  dominate the patrol of the area to avoid personal contact  with smugglers. A Beninois tld the Magazine that the bold initiative will make the Baba Cupa  route unattractive to use by  both smugglers or immigrants to use  because it would be very difficult to settle all the security agencies personnel  manning the rout at a go in order to enter the country with ease.

The Beninois also said that the route which had been very  attractive  to NIS  personnel over the years  because of the ease  at which they cross  illegal immigrants without taking into consideration  the country’s security will be a thing of the past.

  It could not be ascertained the number of officers each of the agencies  had agreed  to release  to strengthen up  the security in the area as the officials of the agencies maintained a sealed lips including Wada, the acting Comptroller of the leady agency  Command when contacted on phone.

The Seme acting Comptroller appears to have made  matters worse for the  smugglers and Immigrants at the Border Community  by embarking on projects that will further  block the Customs Barracks  waterside . An   agent accosted  by The Magazine    recently  disclosed that he was impressed when he  cited the  beams that had been erected  and the speed  at which the Contractor is handling the waterside embankment, described  it as unbelievable.

  There are indications, that illegal immigrants, particular, Italians and Chinese, including Africans who could not pass through the official entrance route into the country  use the  waterside embankment to get to their destination.  This is no longer possible , agent said, as any attempt the person  might fall into the ocean and be drowned. It was said to have happened in the past were an Italian  using  the Customs waterside embankment fell into the ocean and got drowned.

The question on the lips of most people was how the Seme acting Comptroller  was able to raise the money to  embark on such a money golzling project estimated to  be worth millions of naira because of the  rings, iron rods, cement and concrete  used in preparing the beams  including wood and blocks. There are indications that he may have been using the Command monthly AIEs, to execute the project as a way of adding value to the Command.

When contacted  on phone on  Wednesday, September 3, 2020,   Abdullahi Hussain, an Assistant  Superintendent of Customs, and the Command Spokesperson, confirmed the execution of the waterside enbankment project ,adding that  it is  still on going as planned without any stoppage of work.

 According to him ,’ the acting Comptroller has denied himself  the pecks of the office   to embark on the  money  gosling project at  a time  the  economic and social activities at the land border are at its lowest ebb.  He may have also  given a breather to the officers leaving at the Customs Barracks  with the Construction  of a security post  to check vehicular movements.He may have been encouraged to mount the security posts, because of the  alleged  cases of theft in the Barracks.

 Beyond tightening up the security at the Baba Cupa axis and Customs Barracks waterside, the Seme acting Comptroler  was said to have also given a facelift  to the Command  trailer park inherited from the previous Administration of Comptrollers A.A. Aliyu, who  is now  the Zonal Coordinator, Border Drill, sector 4 Kaduna and  Muhammed Uba Garba popular, UG, also a Border Drill Zonal Coordinator but in-charge, sector3. The Border Drill sector 3, going by the mandate given to him,  is overseeing the north central geopolitical  region   Border states of Kwara, Niger, home state of Ibahim Babangida, a retired Army General and former military President and Abdulsalami Abubakar, also a retired Army General and former Head of state, Kogi, and Benue with th4 neighbouring  Benin Republic.

Although, Wada, the Seme acting Comptroller is always ahead of the smugglers  in their  plan because his Customs Intelligence Unit, CIU, background,  the indigenes of the Border Community and its environs who are not  unhappy  appear to have become  very hostile to  officers as they were said to have resorted to sabotage.  

Stephen Ubanna

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