The Value News

Why The Nigerian Customs Board Dismissed Dahiru, retired Abubakar, Both ACGs, And Appointed Wale Adeniyi And Four Others As 2,634 Senior Officers Were Promoted

By Stephen Ubanna

When Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel  and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, supervised the conduct of the senior officers promotion last year, the officers  had expected the promotion result to be released without delay. They had their reason.  This is because of the alleged fears in Customs circles that the delay might  result  in officers who could not make it by merit to use  their money to buy their way.

The fear became pronounced because of the experience prior to the promotion examination. The Value News  learnt that  the question papers were allegedly  sold to officers who could afford it at N200,000.00, thus giving  them   an edge over others. The delay in the release of the result  for over  one and half year on the ground that  the  Customs  Board has not met to  approve it speaks volume. It was learnt that  officers who have the money to buy the promotion had  taken advantage of the delay to pay  between N4 million and N5 million for their name to appear on the promotion list.. It was gathered that a named  Deputy Comptroller had Coordinated the deal.

More worrisome was the news making the rounds that there were officers who did not even  attend the promotion interviews but their names were said to have appeared  on  the list of the  officers promoted    by the Board.  Aggrieved officers   who could not hide their feeling said Ali has  succeeded  in killing Professionalism  from the service for Mediocrity.’’Never had a the  rot associated with the recent  Customs promotion exercise under Ali, the Comptroller General ever happened in the service’’, an officer remarked.  

But a beneficiary of the 2019 promotion exercise had  dismissed the Complaints of the aggrieved officers that there was manipulation in the exercise , stressing that it was based on merit.  He advised the aggrieved officers to channel their Complaints  or  write petition to the office of  the Comptroller General outlining l what  they perceive was wrong with the  last promotion exercise.

Perhaps to avoid a future criticisms of senior Custom  officers  Promotion exercise, there have been a clamour for the use of Consultants  or  Independent examination bodies to conduct the examination for the service. Many believe that the Cabal in the service may not want Ali, the Customs Comptroller Genera do so to avoid giving the  service   a bad name of  being incapable to Conduct promotion examination for its officers.

Despite the mixed reactions that had greeted the  senior Customs officers promotion list, which had  2,634  officers and  whose promotion were backdated to January 2019, the newly promoted officers  are expected to wear their new ranks this  week .

 A breakdown of the promotion list   that was released by Jerome Attah, a Deputy Comptroller and the service, Spokesperson shows that 37 Deputy Comptroller were elevated to the enviable  rank  of  Comptrollers of Customs. One of the newly promoted Comptrollers  was George Nwakama. He was said to have described the promotion as ‘amazing’ and thanked the Board for giving him the opportunity to wear the Comptroller’s rank.   It is not surprising why his joy know no bounds.

110 Assistant Comptrollers were said to have scaled the Deputy Comptroller hurdle. Also promoted  were 138 Chief Superintendent  of Customs to Assistant Comptrollers while 93 Superintendents and  93 Deputy Superintendents of Customs were said to have got the approval of  the Hajia Zainab Ahmed, minister of Finance , Budget and National Planning led Nigerian Customs Board to adorn the  ranks of Chief Superintendents of Customs and Superintendents of Customs  respectively.

Hameed Ali: CG Customs

 The big news that  may have emerged  from the recent Customs Board meeting was the dismissal of one  Assistant Comptroller General of Customs, ACG, over alleged gross indiscipline and the Compulsory retirement of  another  over alleged negligence of responsibilities.  The Customs may have  taken  the extreme  decision to deal decisively with the two  senior officers based on the recommendations of  a Board of Inquiry set up by Babagana Munguno, a etired Army Major General  and National Security Adviser , NSA, who incidentally is the  Chairman of the Operation Swift Response, popular, Border Drill. 

The report of the investigation panel  was said to have recommended the  dismissal of  Aminu Dahiru, an ACG, and  former Zonal Coordinator , Border Drill, sector , 3, based in Ilorin, Kwara state for gross indiscipline. The dismissal of   the former ACG Dahiru, was not unconnected  to  the probe ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari,  over alleged smuggling of 295 tankers of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular, petrol,  across the border between Nigeria and Benin Republic last December.

Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, who had issued a Statement on the wrong committed by the security operatives  noted  that’’  it is  ‘’disheartening  to  learn that 295 smuggled petroleum  tankers  were released without due  authorization  on December 17, 2019 by some security officials  charged  with the responsibilities of protecting our borders’’.

 The Board of Inquiry  was said to have  recommended to the President that all the  officials , Civilian or security operatives, found to have connived  to undermine the  government’s efforts should  be withdrawn  from the Border Drill and severely sanctioned by their respective Organisations. It was not surprising why Dahiru lost his Customs job.

   Another ACG, who was said to have lost his job was  Bashir Abubakar. He was said to have been Compulsorily been  retired from the service  for alleged acts of negligence. His retirement, according to insider sources is coming  barely two years that  he was recommended as an anti-Corruption Crusader  for his anti-Corruption stance in the discharge of his official duties. He  was said to have rejected a $412,000  bribe  from tramadol drug traffickers  when he was the Comptroller of Apapa Command.

Indeed, his sad end from the service was said to have started  some time in December 2019, when it was reported that a total 140 ‘50’’ bags of foreign par boiled rice  were seized from one  Alhaji Habu Sarkin-Fulan, identified as  the  President’s Confidant by agents of the Border Drill operations, sector 4, Kaduna. It was reported that the goods were seized in a warehouse in Daura, the home town of the President.

Insiders said the Abubakar’s men had acted on a tip-off to storm  Fegi quarters in Daura to effect the seizure. Another source disclosed that the rice found in the warehouse were not really  smuggled from neighbouring  West African country of  Benin Republic  but were said to have been sourced  from farms in Kebbi and Sokoto states.

 The rice dealer was said to have  applied  to the Customs Headquarters to be allowed  to move large quantity of the product to be sold  in the southern part of the country because of the government policy on rice imports.  The Customs Authorities may have created the hurdle for the   rice dealers to obtain   the permit before movement  of bulk rice around the country ,  as part of the anti-smuggling measures. There are allegations making the rounds  that   some traders  re-bag the  foreign rice in local trade sacks  and distribute them as locally  produced rice .

 But on receiving the application permit from  Sariki Fulani, the Customs  Authorities  were  said to have sent a signal to  Abubakar,  the Border Drill , Zonal Coordinator, in-charge of  the sector 4. The Customs Comptroller was said to have made efforts to reach out to him through phone calls but  no luck.  

  Given the importance attached to the signal, he has proceeded  to  pass the message to the  field  operation  Team  in-charge of the area   who may have misinterpreted the directive   as a green light to raid the warehouse.

ACG Adeniyi: Commandant Customs Staff And Training College, Gwagwalada

The raid, according to insider sources   had unearthed  only 140 ‘’50’’ bags  of foreign rice as  against 5,000 ‘’50’’ bags of local rice  stored in the warehouse. Many believe that if Abubakar, had made himself available to the Katsina Area Comptroller to receive the message, his boys in the Daura axis could not have raided the private warehouse without his  approval. This may have informed why the members of the Board of Inquiry  described  his action as an act  of negligence of duty  and therefore should be punished . tHis luck was that he was not  dismissed.  At least, he is still entitled to his pensions and gratuities.

 The Board may have put smiles in the face of five acting Comptroller Generals, who were confirmed full ACGs.  They were Wale Adeniyi, who  was a  Customs Spokesperson for several years before he was replaced by Attah, a Deputy Comptroller. As a confirmed  Assistant Comptroller  General of Customs,  he was appointed the Commandant of  the Customs Staff and Training Colge  Gwagwalada, Jack Njoku, Strategic  Research and Policy,  Emmanuel Elton Edorhe, Zonal Coordinator, FOU, Zone C,  Mohammed Boyi, Doctrine and Development.

Hajia Ahmed, the minister of Finance , Budget and National Planning , who insidentally is the Chairman of the Customs  Board had said that  the decision  to approve the Customs senior officers promotion list and make the new Management Team appointments   during its recent  meeting  were meant ‘’to motivate the  officers  and drive  better operations of the service’’.

Stephen Ubanna

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