By Stephen Ubanna
Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel, and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, who may be counting his days in office, appears to have bowed to pressure from Maritime stakeholders to reorganise the Strike Force, HSF, to meet the aspiration of the agents.
Kayode Farinto, Vice President , Association of the Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents , ANLCA, was said to have started the battle to get the Comptroller General, CGC, SF, barred from examination of Containerised cargoes at the seaports and the road, over allegations that they were creating bottlenecks in the clearing process . Farinto and his cohorts were said to have used their contacts in the Presidency and the Customs Headquarters to force Ali, the Customs Comptroller to ensure that the adhoc team were barred from the seaports.
He had threatened to mobilise the agents to withdraw their services from the ports and the land Border areas if the Customs boss fails to heed to their appeal to scrap the Strike Force which has as National Cordinator, Abdullahi Kirawa, a Deputy Comptroller.
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI, had lend their voice to the complaints against the CGC Strike Force by the ANLCA top official insisting that the team must be disbanded to facilitate the clearing process at the port. Muda Yusuf, the Director General collaborated the claims of the ANLCA officials that the activities of the CGC Strike Force slows down the cargo clearing process as ”amounts to creation of another layer of authority to intercept and seize cargoes that have been duly released by all the agencies involved in the examination of the cargoes”.
The Cabal in the Service, who have the ear of the Bauchi state born Customs Comptroller General , were said to have impressed on him to listen to the Complaints of the Industry Stakeholders and do something fast to put the situation under control beforre it gets out of hand.
Unknown to the Cabal, Ali, had already made up of his mind what to do with the adhoc team to make it more effective in its assignment. The fallout was the reorganisation of the Strike Force into three Teams and each Headed by a Deputy Comptroller, who would serve as the Corordinate while Kirawa, the former National Coordinator services was withdrawn to the Customs Headquarters.
In what looked like Customs officials and Stakeholders gang up against the Yobe state born Deputy Comptroller and former National Coordator of the CGC Strike Force, Augustine Chidi, a Deputy Comptroller General in-charge of Enforcement, Investigations and Inspection, on the orders of Ali, announced the dissolution of the team believed to have stepped on toes and decentralised its operations. The value News learn that the former Strike Force leader who many believe who many believe did well within the last one with the seizure of over N17 billion worth of goods and recovery of of abot N1 billion , which could have enetred into private pockets across the country was not given opportunity to defend himself before the Management as he was asked to vacate office with immediate effect.
Insiders told the Magazine that there was the initial confusion over who should take over as the
Going by the new arrangement, Yahaya, who takes over Zone A, comprising of Ogun, Lagos, Ekiti, Ondo, Oyo and Osun, the six states in the
Many believe that Tahaya may take advantage of heading the Command Enforcement Unit, which affords him opportunity to attend its weekly Management meetings to review its anti-smuggling plans for the week to put some of these strategies into action to outsmart his former boss patrol teams. he may get it wrong as his appointment as the CGC, Strike Force Coordinator, ZoneA, may have forced Aliyu, the FOU, Zone A, Customs Comptroller and his Patrol team leaders to go back to the drawing to review their operations in readiness for the chllenges ahead.
A senior who officer who spoke to The Magazine disclosed that agents and other Industry Stakeholders would soon realise their mistake for fighting for the recoval of Kirawa who may be mean in taking decisions in giving Demand Notice , DN, to importers who contravene the government fiscal policy through wrong Classification of their goods to make under payment as Yahaya, who looks calm may be worse in issuing DN, to importers with their agents caught in the act.
But another senior officer officer who had worked under him at Agbara Checkpoint when he was the Officer In-charge described him as a changed officer who has lost much of the fire in him as Ali may soon begin to notice the lapses because of reduced seizure and drop in revenue recovery for the Service in the next couple of months.
But one appointment that was said to have been hailed in Customs circles was that of Adamu .D. Mohammed a Deputy Comptroller, In-charge of Enforcement. Western Marine Command.
Unitil his redeployment the Command from FOu, Zone A, where he served as the Head of the Lagos Roving Team, as an Assistant Comptroller, they had made spectacular seizures including cache of arms released from Apapa seaport.
It was learnt that the importer had made several attempts to bribe his way to take delivery of the items but was disappointed. The seizures were said to have been u made during the Administration of Abdullahi Dikko a, former Comptroller General of Customs but the team members were never rewarded. The onus lies on Ali, the current Comptroller General of Customs., who believes in rewarding hardwork to call for the team members file and quickly promoted them after due Consultation with other members of the Management team.
It is not surprising why Adamu was promoted to the enviable rank of a Deputy Comptroller and thus became the Deputy Comptroller , Enforcement in Western Marine Command.
Many had expected to do perform the same
Insiders informed The Magazine that he did not allow it to frustrate him as he reconnected withhis previous informants at FOU, Zone A, who made their services available him. In one operation alone, one of the the Command water ways patrol team tut together by him was said to have made over 5,000 50 Kg Bags of foreign parboiled rice with the support of the Navy.
This may have informed the reason why Maritime watchers said smugglers in the south east and the Niger Delta, particular, Cross River state , are in trouble, as Adamu would smoke them out from their Ikom and Bakasi hideouts.
The more porous North , which falls under the newly established Zone B, of the Task , was said to have been put under the control of one Kolobe . B, also a Deputy Comptroller. Not much is known about him in Customs Enforcement Circles but those who knew him said he would not fail in the new mandate.
Recall that the CGC Strike Force, came into existence following the dissolutio of the Customs Compliance due to the outcry of the importers with their agents. Joseph Attah, a Deputy Comptroller and Customs Public Relations officer , who gave an insight about the mandate of the team said it is to further ” sanitise and strengthen the services’ anti-smuggling operation across the country”. Attah may have given room for the agents to fight the Team when they started seeing checks erected by it on the road to stop duly released Containers from the seaports.
Note that that the Customs PRO , had said that the team will not erect check points on Nigerian highways to gladden the heart of agents. He had said that the only time the members could be found on the road would be if they have credible intelligence information from Surveillance operatives. the Surveillance operatives, he disclosed are to operate covertly upon suspicion of smuggling but must carry out their diligence before informing the team in of their Zonal offices. But past National Coordinator of the Strike including Kirawa had not kept to the mandate as the team members mounted road blocks on highways to compete with the FOUs personnel across the country to intercept Containers and make seizures.
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