By Stephen Ubanna
Barely two weeks after Ketylene Chima Ekekezie, popular, KC, an Assistant Comptroller General, ACG , and Zonal Coordinator, Nigeria Customs Service, , NCS, Zone A, Lagos, decorated the Comptrollers, including three alone, from Seme Command and the Deputy Comptrollers, who scaled through the Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General of Customs, CGC, organised promotion examination and interview last year, at the Yaba ,Zonal office, the exercise, appears to have opened the flood gate for the Area Comptrollers under the Zone , to follow suit.
On Wednesday, December, 4, 2019, the 33 officers from the rank of Cadet Assistant Superintendents of Customs, ASC Ii, Deputy Superintendents, DSC, to Assistant Comptrollers, from the Command, were said to have gathered at the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Conference room, at the Seme’Krake, a joint Border, to be decorated by Muhammed Uba Garba, the Area Comptroller.
The Value cited some of the officers, who were said to have sat for the promotion examination but could not make it at the final stage , not out of poor performance but because of the quota allocation policy of the government , n indication that each of the Federation has the number of officers that needed to be promoted in that state. This may have why States like Bauchi and Niger, which were said to be top heavy may not have been worst hit in the promotion exercise.
One of the Assistant Comptrollers who was said to have been decorated with the new rank , according t sources, was a squad mate of the Area Comptroller. Indeed, the Customs Comptroller , was said to have handled the decoration of the officer himself, with the support of Rashid Adahunse, a Deputy Computy Comptroller, in-charge of the Command Enforcement Unit.
As a prelude to the decoration of the officers, in the Conferenceroon , with no vacant seats , for officers and invited guests, left, Muhammed , the Custom Comptroller was said to started with an adage: It is ‘’only God that promotes’’, perhaps, to restore hope to those who did not benefit from the 2018 exercise to be calm as they would still make it to the next rank.
He was said to be particular in his advice to new Assistant Comptrollers , who by virtue of their new rank, are now’’ cargo releasing officers’’, appealing to them to have a wide knowledge in order to be thorough in doing their job as releasing officers. He was said to have also made it clear to them that they must be technically sound, to avoid any problem with the field officers whose report would guide most of their actions. s The Customs Comptroller may be talking to the Assistant Comptrollers based on experience and what is happening at some of the Commands, particular, at the seaports between the releasing officers and their fields over reports.
Recall that in the past some Assistant Comptrollers from the Port Multi-services Terminal Limited, PTML, had been down- graded by one rank after facing the Headquarters disciplinary Committee over wrong decision taken that led to the release of some imported cargoes in which the government was said to have lost millions of naira.
The pep talk may have prepared the ground for the decoration of the 33 promoted officers, starting with the Assistant Comptrollers to the Cadet Assistant Superintendents of Customs in that order.
Given a breakdown of the list of the promoted officers, Abdullahi Onowa, An Assistant Superintendent Of Customs Abdullahi Onowa, n ASC1, and the Command Spokesperson disclosed that there were four, Assistant Comptrollers, one Chief Superintendent, six DSCs 14 ASC1 and ASC II, eight.
The good news was that the officers have promised to ‘’ double their efforts in the Command anti-smuggling and revenue drive in order to meet the demand of the Service on them: to whom , much is given is expected from him’’.
For now, the officers are looking forward to put into practice what they have learnt form the Border Drills operation which had led to the partial closure of the Borders with the enighbouring countries of Benin Republic, Niger and the Central African country of Cameroon in order to prove that the Customs of today s of today was not the Nigeria Customs of yester years where officers do whatever they like and get away is over.. Some of the officers confirmed that the Border Drills comprising of the Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, Police, Military and the NCS as the lead agency and o personnel including the Department of State Security, DSS, is very rewarding as they are now technically sound to do the job.
The officers , decorated with their new ranks could not hide their joy as they move about shaking hands with their Colleagues and friends. Some of them were said to have seen as a a great in their life in the service as they saw it as an opportunity to take pictures with their senior Colleagues with the Area Comptroller for remebrance.
Insiders informed The Value News , that the officers struggled to take pictures with the Area Comptroller . One of the successful officers, who was said to have attracted the attention of the Comptroller was salihu .S, an Enforcement officer, described as a terror to smugglers, who, the Comptroller was said to have signified his intention to with him for the cameramen to take their picture. Call it a historic picture. The decoration exercise was said to have ended with a group photograph of the officers with the Area Comptroller and other senior officers.
In a related development , the Border Drill, operatives at the Agbara Church gate, were said to have arrested a CHISCO Bus , coming from the West African Country of Ghana, with full load of Passengers . The CHISCO West Coast Bus was said to have also been loaded with Contrabands. The question on the lips of most people, was how the Border Driil operatives , at Gbaji, could not arrest the bus , until it got to Agbara Churchgate, where its arrested and returned back to Seme, where it is currently been detained.
Currious to know what the officers found around the Bus were doing,the Magazine in an undercover reporting as if looking for someone on Wednesday , December 4, 2019, around the vicinity, found some officers still offloading the jerry cans of foreign vegetable Oil on the booth and transferring them to the government warehouse.
It was learnt that scores of ‘’50’’ bags of foreign parboiled rice had earlier been evacuated from the bus and transferred to the government warehouse documented. There was a fierce looking soldiers armed to the teeth, watching over the Bus and job of the Customs officer to ensure that the right thing are done. The arrest of the CHISCO Bust , may have forced the the Seme Customs Command,, Federal Operatiotion Unit, FOU, Zone A, CGC, Strike force, , Lagos Zone, and the Border Drills operatives , at the various Checkpont to beam their search on all Cross-Border Buses along the Abidjan Corridor.
While the officers were busy removing the Contrabands found in the Bus, there was foul odour, oozing out from a parked Container from the government warehouse premises. On enquiry, it was gathered that they were cartoon of impounded poultry products loaded into the Container. It may have been an oversight why the Command had buried it. This is where Comptroller Muhammed may have to take immediate steps to ensure that the decayed cartons of poultry products parked in the ‘’20’’ Container were quickly buried to avoid causing epidemic in the area.
The Magazine observed a major racket going at the Gbaji check point last Wednesday where a table guide by four persons on mulfti, Coordinated by the soldiers staying in a Nigerian Drug Administration and Safety Agency, NDLEA, cover stand . The Magazine observed how the solders preside over the collection of N500.00, from motorists who are ready to pay the money in order to pass one way in order bead the long queue on the approved lane for motorist to ply. The popular Lagos bus, with the yello colour, according to a co-passenger in the bus do not hesitate in paying the amount which they consider as nothing in order to leave the scene.
A fire work person in the bus was said to have lent his voice , where he had two ‘’50’’ bags of rice split in different sacks but was asked to go by the Border Drills personnel, but the vehicle was stopped by an angry police, who may have schemed out who insisted that the driver bring down the rice found in the vehicle. The police man ws s aid to have forcefully opened the door which the alleged fireworks person but was cautioned by the driver to the calm to avoid aggravating the situation. The fireworks , person , who claimed to be from Kwara state, north central Nigeria, disclosed how he had lost over N200,00, engaging the services, of some Badagry Youths to cross 10 bags of rice , through the Creeks for him. He noted that the same Badagry Youths he had engaged and paid to do the job were also paid informants of the Customs as they quickly alerted the Marine officers who emerged in the scene and carted away the 10 bags of rice from the boat , preparatory to sail to to location where they had asked to wait for the arrival of the boat.
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