Seme:We Are Ready For Smugglers – Wada

Stephen Ubanna

Until his elevation as the Acting Comptroller, Seme Command, of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, by Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller general, NCS, following the redeployment of Muhammed Uba Garba,  the former Area  Comptroller, as the Zonal Coordinator of the  Ilorin , Kwara state, based Border Drill sector 3, not many  people knew much about the anti-smuggling potentials  of Shedi Wada.

Wada  may have been exposed  to  the realities  of anti-smuggling operations with the opportunities given to him on January 4, 2020, by Hameed  Ali, a retired Army Colonel and  Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS.  He knew he cannot afford to  fail  that he was  forced to mobilise  his Management Team to go back to the drawing board to restrategise on how to deal with the  unrepentant smugglers.  This may have informed why he is  very happy  with Ali, the Customs Comptroller General for giving  him the opportunity to prove himself.

The little exposure he may have  had in dealing with the smugglers   at  the Command outstation at Owode-Apa, Nigeria main border Community  with the neighbouring West African country of Benin Republic  in the  south west, maritime analysts believe   hd emboldened  him  to deal decisively with the smugglers in the last  six months. This is evident going   by  the  Contraband seizures that were said to have been made  by the Command.

The Contraband items that were said to have been   intercepted by the Command under the close watch  of Wada within the six months under review  include  Foreign  par boiled rice,  Premium Motor Spirit, popular,  petrol, Poultry Products,  Parcels of Cannabis Sativa, General Merchandise goods, and vehicles.  Note  Foreign rice and  vehicles  had been banned  from coming into the country by President Muhammdu Buhari , on Jaunary 1st, 2017.

Wada: Showcasing Exotic Vehicle Seizures Of Seme Command

 Given a breakdown of  the intercepted  Contraband , an elated  Wada, who could not hide his feelings  disclosed  that  made 54, 275 litres  of petrol, 327 cartons  of poultry products, 111 Parcels  of cannabis sativa, which in local parlance is called, India Hemp,  and 996  general merchandise goods were I seized from the smugglers.

. He further  disclosed between the month the  Customs Authorities  got the Presidential  directive to  hand over the seized  Foreign rice  across the various  warehouses   across the country and Wednesday June 17, 2020, the Command  had made an additional  seizure of an 695 ‘’50’’ bags of the Asian country of Thailand  parboiled rice.

 It was gathered that out of the 155 trucks load  of   Foreign  rice evacuated from Government warehouses and Confirmed by National Agency  for and Drug Administration  , NAFDAC, to be good for  HHuman Consumption,  the Command alone had contributed the initial 25,00 bags, followed by another 17,00 bags  and an  7 ,00 bags, bringing it to a total of 49,000 ‘’50’’ bags of rice.

 He lamented  that despite the Wuhan Town in Hebei  Province of the Asian country of  China emerged coronavirus, popular, COVID 19, which had resulted in the lockdown  of the global economy , the  unpatriotic  and desperate  Nigerians  had continued with their ‘’evil act of smuggling’’.

He noted that with the tight security  mounted  within  the Seme Jurisdiction, ‘’ no matter how they smugglers try  to go , we are there  for them’’.  According to  with the  Command  renewed   anti-smuggling strategies which had  forced  the Crack  Team to  go after them in their hideouts at their illegal routes in the bush,  the Command had been  able to intercept  some exotic vehicles which were the exclusive  preserve of the  Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, over the last two and half  years , as such vehicles  fall into the waiting hands  of the Command Lagos Roving Team  Headed by Riks Lura, a Chief  Superintendent of Customs.

Government Warehouse, Seme

Given an insider information, the Seme Customs  Comptroller  confirmed  the  interception and detention of  a  Mercedez Benz 300, 2010,  model, which according a vehicle dealer , has a  current market value of about N14  million while the  duty payable if it had passed through the  country’s seaport  and  the import document duely   processed for clearing is about N7, 124,788.00.

Other exotic vehicles that were said  to  have  been intercepted by the  Command various  Crack Teams combing the  bush and at strategic locations on the road   include the   Germany  manufactured Mercedez GLK 350,  Amati and Toyota Highlander 213 model.  The  exotic vehicles were said to have been   intercepted and detained  between April 17, 2020 and now  as the Command  continue to  test  run  its new  anti-smuggling  strategies aimed at forcing the smugglers to submission.

 Wada, the Seme customs comptroller, could not understand  how someone could could afford  to cough out   millions of  naira to buy  a vehicle  at  Cotonou,  Beni n republic, and then  bow to pressure to smuggle t   into the country through the bush   in order to escape payment of payment.

A Valuation expert who spoke to The  Magazine  put the total  Duty Paid Value, DPV, of the  213 interceptions made by b the Command   between January and June 17, 2020, at N163, 409,142.00.

Recall that last  December  Ali, the Customs Comptroller General , had provided a  window for those  whose  vehicles were  intercepted and detained by  the FOU, across the country or other  anti-smuggling Customs  Commands  to visit the nearest FOU, Command   to them to process their  document and pay the  mandatory  duty and 25% surcharge in order to take delivery of their detained vehicles.

 Some of the  Vehicl e smugglers  were said to have taken advantage of the  soft-landing provided  by the Customs helmsman to  pay their  duties  and the 25 surcharge for such detained vehicles. Insider sources told The Magazine that those who were lucky to do so did it  based  on the report of the Customs Command  investigation . Some people who  were said  to have been  using their vehicles for  years  without Customs papers  were said to have taken advantage of the Customs window to  formalize their vehicle documenst to avoid Customs  harassment  on the road.

 Insiders told The Magazine that the policy was stopped  last February  by the Customs Authorities but thousands of  people across the country  benefitted from it. This is an indication  that smugglers  whose  vehicles  had fallen into the waiting   hand of the  Command  anti-smuggling  Team  between March, 2020 and now and now, face  outright seizure of their vehicles. For now,  only the Customs Comptroller General   has the power  to decide when  tore open such  a window again for smugglers  who have lost their vehicles to Customs  to pay  the necessary  C  duty and the 25% surcharge  in order to take delivery of  their vehicle..

Appealing to smugglers to embrace Legitimate trade  as a means of livelihood, Wada averred  that’’ it is the only  way they could escape Customs harassment  or engage in smuggling items that  poses a threat human health’’. The Seme Customs Comptroller, has made it clear to  those that cares to listen’’ that  Customs  will continue  to actualise  sustainable   campaigns  and strict enforcement  of the government  Fiscal policies with a view  to protect  the nation economically and socially’’.        

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