Seme: Petrol   Auction, VIP Smugglers Disappointed As Plan Fail

By Stephen Ubanna

 When information filtered out around August, 2022, that Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, has given approval to Comptroller Bello Mohammed Jibo, Area Controller, Seme Command to go ahead and auction all the seized thousands of Jerry cans of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular Petrol, of 30 litres each, from smugglers, there was the initial   fears that the VIP smugglers may use cronies to buy off the kegs of petrol.

This is because the petrol auctions had dominated the talks at Seme, and Badagry axis. Wherever two or three people were gathered, the petrol auction dominated their discussion, as they plan on what to do. An insider had informed The Value News that Comptroller Jibo had given instructions to AC. Abubakar Dankigari, Head of the Command Operations, overseeing the auction sales, on what to do to ensure that the right thing is done to prevent the kegs of petrol getting into the wrong hands.

Acting on the Comptroller General’s instructions, Comptroller Jibo, and his Management Team were said to have prepared the ground for the sale of the thousands of intercepted kegs of the petrol product of 30  litres each intercepted by the Command at various operations with Seme jurisdictions and Badagry axis.

 The Seme Customs Authorities may have pull the rug under the feet of the VIP Petrol smugglers by tightening the noose to ensure that they will never get access to where the kegs of Petrol product are being auctioned at N2,000.00 per keg.Described as a man of Wisdom, in Customs cercles, Compt.Jibo was said to have laid down stringent rules that needed be followed by   AC. Dankigari, and his Team in the auction.

It was learnt that prior to the auction sales, the Command had made allocations to   all the various security agencies and other sister agencies including institutions and Traditional institutions within Seme jurisdictions and Badagry axis.

 The security agencies that were said to have benefited from the allocation of the kegs of petrol included the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Navy, Department of State Service, DSS and the Divisional police Commands within Seme and Badagry axis. This is in addition to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration, Nigerian Dug Law Enforcement Agency, Border Patrol, Port Health, and all other government agencies at the domiciled at the Seme land border. 

 There were indications that the Association of Nigerian Licensed customs Agents, ANALCA, Seme Chapter, were not left out. The Seme Customs Area Controller, may have had at the back of his mind that by the time ANLCA, gets its collect its allocation, it will be shared by all the Agent Associations, Chapters, at the Seme land border Community.

 But this was said to have created problems as the Leadership of National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, National Association of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, Seme Chapter, NCMDLCA, and some other Associations at the Seme Land border Community,had protested  to the Customs Comptroller, insisting that their own Association  should be given allocations stakeholders.

   They had their way. Comptroller Jibo was said to have directed AC .Dakingari Committee to include all the various Freight Forwarders Associations at the the Seme border that were initially excluded from the original list. The fallout was that NAGAFF, NCMDA, and other stakeholders Association at the land border allocation. The members were said to have applauded the Seme Customs Area Comptroller for the decision, describing him as’’ a listening Customs Comptroller and crisis Manager’’.

  As a prelude to ensuring that the right thing is done an insider informed the online Magazine that the Customs Comptroller gets information on the sales of the auctioned kegs of petrol in the Government Warehouse on a daily basis and intervenes where necessary. A source confirmed that only uniformed personnel and other sister agencies personnel, including other stakeholders at the land border were allowed to access the auctioned kegs of petrol.

 The Magazine took time out on Wednesday, September 5, 2022, to monitor the sale of the kegs of the seized petrol at the Government Warehouse and found out that the selected   officers, by AC, Dankigari, handling the Auction exercise are working according to the laid down rules to avoid playing into the hands of the Area Controller who is determined to discpline any officer found wanting. This is because, the Customs Comptroller General and his Management Team are watching to see how the auction is being handled at Seme Command.  

Note that the usual bevy of market women found in such places where Jerry Cans of Petrol are being auctioned in order to make buys from beneficiaries who are willing to sell and resale to motorists by the road side, were missing. This is because of the tight security mounted by Assistant Comptroller Dankingari and his officers to ensure that the right thing is done.

 The most recent seizure of kegs of petrol Being auctioned, after condemnation, was said to have occurred at Gbaji, where the FOU, Zone A, Border Drills, Lagos Zonal office, CGC, Strike Force, Seme Command, NIS and Port and Health and other some other security agencies have checkpoints including the ForceThe FOU, Zone A, was said to have carted away about 400 Jerry cans, leaving 300 kegs for Seme Command to evacuate to the Government Warehouse at the land border.

Given the good working relationship between the Semee Command and its host Communities may have informed why the Seme Command operation officers at the Gbaji checkpoint were said to have intercepted an dditional 1000 kegs, thus bringing the total number of kegs of petrol of 30 litres each intercepted at the busy checkpoint, along the Badagry –Seme border Community to1,300 kegs. 

 t Unconfirmed report said Acting Comptroller Ejibuno, had wanted to use the Gbaji open space, where the seizure was made  address the press but may have been cautioned against it that he was said to have retraced his step quickly.

 A source disclosed that an officer attached to the Border drills, Lagos Zonal office, tried to cause tension around the Badagry axis as he had claimed that he was shot by smugglers which residents had disputed, describing as lies.A stakeholder  disclosed that the Seme Command Area Comptroller, had pleaded with his Counterparts, in the other interventionist Units, not to turn  Seme Jurisdictions and Badagry axis into another Idiroko axis, where there is always a clash between smugglers and Customs personnel because of the too many routes that could be used  by the smugglers to carry out their nefarious activities. There are over 140 illegal routes IN Ogun state,alone, with much of it in areas covered by Ogun 1,Command.

Many believe that the Seme Customs Command, Area Controller has every reason to worry because of the people’s invaluable assistance to the Command, in terms of giving out information. This is evident with the several seizures of thousands of kegs of petrol product along the Creeks and watersides between Seme bordr Community and Badagry axis without any shooting of bullet with the smugglers.

Seme Comand Seized of Jerry Cans Of Petrol, 30 Litres Each, Auctioned

Take for instance,  the  seizure of  3,998 Jerry cans  of petrol, equivalent of four Tanker loads of petrol  or 119,940 litres,  around Badagry axis valued at about N30 million last August.The seizure of 75,000 litres of petrol,  along the bush within Seme and Badagry axis  estimated at  about 2,500 kegs of 30 litres each of petrol, valued at about  N20 million in September 2022, speaks volume.

 In spite of the allocations to various security agencies and other stakeholders at the at the land border, that runs into hundreds of kegs, the Command, appears to be making good sales. An insider confirmed that the Command generated N3 million in August and about N6 million last September. The sales, which is still ongoing, the officer said, had kept AC. Dankigari very busy, always one meeting or the other in his office with Groups.

  Notwithstanding, that there are still thousands of Kegs of 30 litres each of unsold petrol,   the Command operation officers, are still on the red alert in case of any information to strike and make more jerry cans of petrol seizures  to sustain the  auction sale and continue to frustrate and get the VIP Petrol smugglers, who have option B, to use cronies, to buy off the thousands of Jerry cans of petrol earmarked for  auction disappointed.     

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