Customs: Smuggle, Lose And Go To Jail

By Stephen Ubanna

 Officers and men of the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone C, under the close watch of Olusemire  Kayode overseeing the south and sout-south geo-political regions ,appeaar to have taken advantage of the activities of the Border Drills comprising of the Customs, Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, and other various security agencies including the Department of State Security, DSS, and the Comptroller General of Customs, popular, CGC, Strike Force, have restrategised in their anti-smuggling efforts.

This is yielding results going by the seizures that had been  made by the Command Patrol teams operating in the different states of the two regions, particular, Edo , Cross river and Rivers state. The Container seizures made by the Command gives an insider  information that releasing officers at the seaports, Connive and aid dubious importers with their agents for their pecuniary gains.

Many believe  that  the Command Operations Unit, Headed by Ahmadu Shuaibu, a Deputy Comptroller of Customs  who has  the support of Olusimere, the Area Comptroller, never gives  a breather to the patrol Team leaders as he was said to have put a close watch on them to ensure they do the right thing and make seizures.

 The Containers seizure made by the Command speaks volume. An elated Olusimere, the Area Comptroller, had confirmed that the Command intercepted three  Containers  load  of cargoes made up of two ‘’40’’ Containers and a ‘’20’’ Container . One of the suspected   Containers, which was a ‘’40’’,  which  was  said to have been intercepted on the road was transferred to the Government Warehouse, Owerri for examination.

The Comptroller disclosed that after  examination , it was found to have contained 612 chairs. The Customs Comptroller noted that there was  no basis for his men to have intercepted the Container    which document had been  signed by officials of the various agencies that participated in the examination of the cargo at the port stressing that  furniture is a dutiable item. According to him ,the importer falsely  declared furniture as ‘’pumps and ales’’ in order to evade payment of  appropriate duty.

Going by the Customs and Excise Management Act, CEMA, Cap, 2004, the Comptroller disclosed that the importer  has contravened  section 161 of the Law, and therefore liable to be punished. Giving that the Consignment is dutiable, maritime watchers believe that it is at the discretion of  the Area Comptroller to issue a Demand Notice, DN,  which may run into millions of naira to the importer or seize it. This is where the importer  who may have been deceived by the agent that he could get the Consignment out from the port by using his contacts in Customs  may have to go go into serious prayers for divine intervention to avoid the Containerised cargo worth millions of naira from being seized by Customs.   

Another ‘’40’’ Container, intercepted by the Command ,  was said to have been loaded with second Handing clothing allegedly imported from China.  Note that the government had prohibited the importation of  such used clothing into the country, because of its adverse effects , an indication that the Consignment was as good as having been lost to government. The worry in the mind of many was that importers who should know much better should dare the Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller  General of Customs Patrol Teams on the road.  

Security watchers believe that the importer’s agent may have succeeded in taking the banned Consignment out of the port but could not get it to the importer’s warehouse as it was stopped on the road by an FOU , Zone C Team. This is exactly what had happened to the Containerised load of secondhand clothing released from  the port. The report of the examination officers show that   521 bales of used clothing was concealed in the Container loaded with other dutiable goods in order to evade detection.

The third Container that was said to have fallen into the waiting hands of Olusemire’s men  at Akpajo along the Port-Harcourt  -Owerri road  was  a ‘’20’’ Container loaded with dutiable items but  Analgin, a banned drugs wasalso concealed in it.. I t was said to have contained  1,182 cartons  of analgin injections,  100 ompoules  of ml 100×18 pieces  totaling 180,000 ompoules .

Olusemire:  Giving Fraudulent Importers And Smugglers A Run For  Their Money

 The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration, NAFDAC, on the orders of Olusegun Obasanjo, a  former President  had banned the drug from being imported into the since  2005 because of its ‘’severe adverse effects’’. 

Medical experts  had  described the Analgin drug as being  worse than Tramadol  because there are no approved  dosages that could be taken with its severe effects. They noted that tramadol, which was also a banned drug has approved dosages that could be taken by anyone . The question on the lips of most people was: how did these  Containers  exit the port without the knowledge of the Customs officer at the gate of the particular seaport linked with the cargo? This is where Comptroller Olusemire , may have to take up the matter with his counterparts at Port Harcourt Area I, Onne, Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone Ports to  forestall the dirty deals going on at the ports between agents and officers at their Commands.

Insiders informed the Magazine that last year, the FOU Zone C , Comptroller, had taken up a case of a Container released  from  one of the Lagos ports which fell  into the waiting hands of  his men within the Edo  and Ondo states axis.

Many believe that the FOU, Zone C officials are  doing  may not be much different from  what  Aliyu Mohammed, Comptroller FOU, Zone A,’s Operations and Lagos Roving Team  ,Headed by Riks Lura, a Chief Superintendent of Customs, CSC,  are doing in Lagos.  Virtually on a daily basis, suspected ‘’20’’ and ‘’40’’ Containers have been intercepted and transferred to the Government Warehouse , ikeja, for proper examination.  The guilty importers who  were said to have been profiled to know their import history  by officials of the  Unit, were said to have slammed DN, running into millions of naira. Investigation by The Value News shows that  the Command had recovered millions of lost revenue for the g government through such issuance of DN.

While giving fraudulent importers who may have  succeeded  in taking delivery of their cargoes  out of the ports either at  Port Harcourt, Calabar , Warri or Lagos, smugglers who had tried to bring in prohibited cargoes, particular, foreign  parboiled rice, through unapproved routes  in the south east or south-south geopolitical regions would never forget their experience in a hurry.  Even  smugglers who had succeeded in beating the Border Drills, CGC, Lagos Zonal Strike Force, and the FOU, Zone A, officers on the road to enter  the FOU , Zone C, jurisdiction, were said to have been unlucky to fall into the waiting hands of Olusemire’s men on the road.

Giving an insider information, the FOU, Zone C, helmsman , disclosed that  the Command  also impounded  1,920, ‘’50’’ bags of foreign parboiled rice. This is  a major achievement by the Command  Operation officers considering the fact that the Border Drills, were at every nooks and crannies  of the south east and south-south to ensure that  foreign par boiled rice, particicular, did not enter the country. The Command was said to  have made six arrests  over the seizures but, who were said to have been granted Administrative bails.

Indeed,not  many had expected the Command  anti-smuggling officers to  make seizures   with the Border Drills or the CGC Strike Force who are better equipped  with  working operational tools and patrol  vehicles stationed all over the smuggler’s routes in the two regions, which shares boundaries with the south west geo-political region and the Central  African country of Cameroon through the sea.

In a related development , Seme Command  under the Close watch of Muhammed Uba Garba, who  was a one-time Comptroller of FOU, Zone C, where he made spectacular seizures of Tramadol,  for the first time in Customs history, was said to have mobilised his patrol Teams  to effectively block the  identified the major smugglers routes  within the Seme, Owode , Ashipa and Badagry  axis  including the Creeks .  

The fallout was that smugglers, particular, the foreign parboiled rice smugglers , have resorted to hiding the item  in the bush within the border

A visitor to the Seme Government  warehouse  confirmed that it has been filled with thousands of ‘’50’’ bags of rice, valued at millions of naira, intercepted from  smugglers in the bush and the Creeks. The Seme Customs Comptroller  was said to have made it clear to smugglers operating within the Seme Axis that there is no hiding place for them, noting that they are ever prepared to take the anti-smuggling to their hideout anywhere within the Seme axis.

Smugglers who think they could beat the tight security mounted by the Border Drills, FOU, Zone A and CGC , Strike Force personnel,  with their smuggled vehicles, as well, under various  guises , have been disappointed, as they were said to have fallen into the waiting hands of Mohammed’s men , who are strategically positioned  at the Border  Community and its environs.

It is not surprising why the most of the diehard smugglers  formerly operating at the Seme axis, had relocated to the Ogun 1 axis, thus, turning Idiroko and its environs into theatre of war as Michael Agbara, the Area Comptroller  and his Management  Team, are always  coming out with new ideas to counter the new tactics of the smugglers, who are already feeling the heat from the Border Drills in the state.

Mohammed: Effectively Blocked Seme porous Routes

Recall thatMuhammadu Buhari, the Katsina state  born Nigerian President had banned the importation of foreign rice and vehicles through the land Border on January1, 2017. Until the Border Drill ,  under the Chairmanship  of,  Babagana Munguno, a retired Major General, and NSA, was inaugurated last August, on the orders of the President,  FOUS, and the Border Commands across the country, including the CGC , Strike Force, had  enforced the directive to the latter, as the government warehouses were filled with impounded foreign rice and Vegetable Oil , while the premises were littered with second hand vehicles.

But Ali, the Customs Comptroller General, may have given a soft landing to  the owners of the smuggled vehicles intercepted  by  Customs personnel  on the road to go to any of the FOU Command across the country with the relevant documents to process and take delivery of it with the payment of the DN and  surcharge that may  slammed on them.

Many owners of intercepted smuggled vehicles, were said to have taken advantage of the window provide them to take take delivery of the vehicles by Ali by paying the DN and surcharges . The number of vehicle owners and dealers who troop to  the various FOU , premises across the country speaks volume.

From Lagos,Kaduna, Owerri and Bauchi, the story is the same:  Customs Revenue Recovery Committee, attending to thenumerous owners of the vehicles intercepted on the road , bush or car marts.

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