By Stephen Ubanna
Until Sunday, September 1,2019, nobody knew that a big story await Nigerians from the Seme/Krake Joint Border between Nigeria and Republic of Benin. It is the story about the interception of a Cross-Border Transporter involved Cannabis Sativa, popular, India Hemp, from the neighbouring West African country of Ghana, into Nigeria
Many believe that the Company may have been doing this over the years and escaped because the Seme Command Patrol Team stationed at the Border may not have seen any reason to stop such Cross-Border buses for routine search as there had not been any adverse report about any of such Cross-Border transporters in the past.
But the continuous seizure of the illicit substance, smuggled into the country with vehicles coming from Ghana,or through the Creeks and the waterside may have forced the smugglers to resort to plan B to carry out their nefarious activities by engaging the service s Cross-Border transport Companies drivers to carry the illicit substance into the country for them. They have had the believe that Customs personnel at the the Seme/Krake Border would never suspect the bus, let alone asking the driver to park for search. The Cannabis Sativa dealers got it wrong.
The closure of the Borders across the country at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari, may have emboldened the Command, Border patrol officers to stop every Cross=Border vehicles including buses for search without Compromise.
Note that country’s Borders with neighboring Benin, Niger, Chad and the Central African country of Cameroon , had been closed about three weeks ago by the Katsina born Nigerian President to checkmate the activities of smugglers of prohibited items through unapproved routes into the country, particular, foreign par boiled rice. The closure of the Borders was a bad news for the Cross- Border Transport Companies as Adahunse Rashid, a Deputy Comptroller, in-charge of the Seme Command Enforcement Unit was giving a matching Order to ensure that all vehicles and buses coming into the country from Benin or any other country from the West African sub-region were properly examined to avoid Contrabands being smuggled into the country.
The Value of News learnt that it was during one of such routine checks of a bus belonging to a notable transport company plying between Nigerian and Ghana resulted in the discovery of Cannabis Sativa in the bus. The Command was said to have intercepted the bus belonging to G-Express Company Motors with Registration Number ENU 907450 alleged to be coming from Ghana.
Muhammed Uba Garba, the Area Comptroller, disclosed that the bus was taken to Baggage for examination. It was gathered that during examination, the bus was found to have loaded five parcels of Cannabis Sativa alongside other Contrabands. The good news was that the driver of the bus, the conductor and the cargo Handler were promptly arrested and detained. The illicit drugs and the suspects were said to have been handed over to the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, officials at the Border Community in the spirit of inter-agency Collaboration and synergy.
The seizure of the five parcels, bring to 20, the number of Cannabis Sativa , parcels intercepted by the Command within the last two weeks of August , 2019. The seizure of the illicit drugs may have encouraged the Seme Command Comptroller to reassure the NDLEA officials , of the preparedness of the Service to ‘’compliment the efforts of the agency in its fight to rid the country of illicit drugs’’.
Recall that within two weeks in the month of June, 2019, the Command had seized 1,582 parcels of the illicit drugs concealed in an indomie truck and another 55 parcels concealed in a Seinna bus. Given an insider information , the Comptroller, disclosed that that a total of 1,686 parcels of the illicit substance , worth over N30 million were intercepted and seized during the period.
The Command Patrol Teams may not have allowed the Joint Border Security Operation across the Country, tagged Ex-Swift Response, Coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser, NSA, under the close watch of Babaga Munguno, a retired Major –General to weigh them down not to do their job as foreign parboiled rice, vehicles and other prohibited items banned from coming into the country had continued to be seized.
Abubakar, Amajam, an Assistant Comptroller General, who is Coordinating the Operations in the south west geo-political region comprising of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun , Ekiti and Ondo and Abdullahi Kirawa, a Deputy , Comptroller, in-charge of Operations, may have given a signal that they were in total control of the anti-smuggling activities at the Borders in the regions as they Commandeered all the patrol vehicles at the Border station and most of the Enforcement and other officers t from the Command to join the adhoc Team.
It is not surprising why Customs Comptroller was very appreciative of the spetacular seizures that had been made by the officers still carrying on with anti-smuggling operations in the Command.
A Statement by Abdullahi Saidu, an Assistant Superintendent of Customs and the Command Image maker listed the items seized within the period to include 875 ‘’50’’ bags of foreign par boiled rice, with a Duty Paid Value, DPV, of over N15 million,535 Bales of second Hand Clothing, with a DPV, OF about N17.3 million, 269 baskets of tomatoes and other Agricultural products from Republic of Benin including baskets of pineapples valued at about N367.4471.00.
This is in addition to sacks of used shoes, belt and ladies bags, textile materials, cartons of poultry products , car paint, galvanized nails, carton of condensed milk, Spaghetti Noddles, body cream, television sets, motor spare-parts and gas burner among others.
Investigation shows that undisclosed amount of some foreign currencies were intercepted from money exchangers who were caught at the Border closure. Without sounding immodest, Muhammed, the Seme Command Comptroller, has made it clear to those that cares to listen that there is no going back on the ‘’strict implementation of the government fiscal policies and the extant laws that govern the day to operations of the Service at the International Border’’.