Customs: Hard Times for Bauchi / Gombe Smugglers

By Suleiman Umaru

For years smugglers operating around the bauchi and Gombe axisis in the north east geo-political region had taken advantage of crisis in the region, particular, Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states to carry out their nefarious activities. They may have penetrated the ranks of the other  security  agencies personnel in the states who aid and abet them  to carry out their illegal trade.

The smuggling of Contraband in the region, according to sources, became so pronounced  last year  that major markets were dominated by Foreign parboiled rice, Vegetable oil and other foreign goods .Unknown to them  Hameed Ali , a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service,, NCS, had plotted the collapse of the smuggling ring in the two northern  east states  by deploying Comptroller, Bello Muhammed Jibo to the Bauchi/Gombe Command to in order to contain their activities.

Jibo may have known from the onset  that he  needed the support  of other security agencies personnel  within the two states to sustain the  anti-smuggling war within the jurisdiction under the Command. As a prelude to do so, he had embarked  on the first phase of his familirisation of tour  of the Command outstations where he was said to have had the opportunity of meeting the Officers in-charge and the Patrol Team leaders. He was said to have had a closed door discussions with them to restrategise on how to deal with the smugglers who had refused to turn a new leaf.

 The Tour was said to have taken him to both Bauch and Gombe axis, where he had paid a courtesy call on Manassah  Daniel  Jatau, the state deputy governor. The visit was said to have also provided him and his entourage and ammunition to prepare to visit the brigade  Commanders and heads of other security agencies in the two states.

He had visisted the Commanders of the 33 Artillery  Brigade, Bauchi , Nigerian Army  Armoured Corps and Nigerian Security and Civil Defense  Corps, Bauchi where they had a heart to heart discussion on areas of Collaboration.

Note that within his first month of assumption of office in the Command, the military Commands had given him a welcome party where   two Contraband  interceptions  were handed to him . It was an unexpected gift from the soldiers and a message to  the Customs Comptroller that he needed to carry them  along  in the anti-smuggling war  if he really  wants to make a headway.

Indeed, Comptroller Jibo,  may have used  the  opportunity of the recent  visits to the Military Commands  to solicit  for more support  in order to maintain  the already established  good working relationship between them. He was full of praises for the Brigade Commanders and their soldiers  for the two Contraband  seizures made which was handed over to him within his first month of assumption of office in the Command.

Many described it as a welcome party for him by the Brigade Commanders and  a signal to the daredevil smugglers that it was no longer going to be business as usual.

A Brigade Commander Handing Over A Plague To Compt. Jibo

The Commander of the 33 Artillery Brigade, Bauchi and his Counterpart at  the Nigerian Armoured Corps including  the Head of the Nigerian Security  and Civil Defence  Corps, NSCDC, were said to  be very happy to have the Bauchi/Gombe Customs boss in their midst. The Military  Commanders were said to have assured him individually    that more  will be done   in order to “ smoothen  the existing  relationship between them

Indeed, if the past Area Comptrollers  of the Bauchi /Gombe Command had carried these other security agencies personnel along in the anti-smuggling  war in the states,  the situation may not have been so bad that bauchi and Gombe t could be described  in Maritime circles as “smugglers haven”.

Jibo, the Customs Area Comptroller may have given his counterparts in the other security  agencies hope of  going to work  with them  to make Bauchi and Gombe  too hot for  smugglers to carry out their nefarious trade when he assured them of regular Consultations and security meetings where some of these thorny issues bordering on their operations would be discussed.

A senior Customs officer  who spoke o The Value News  disclosed that  the Bauchi and Gombe smugglers, who are mostly uniformed men may have  to watch it as Jibo, described as a fearless officer, would not spare  anyone who may wwant to take advantae of the COVID 19, global disease to smuggle Contrabad caught in the act. He could beat his chest of going to deal ruthlessly with the smugglers the smugglers this time around because he has the backing of the Brigade Commanders .

       indeed, having served at Seme,  Command, as a Deputy Comptroller in-charge of Revenue, which made him a member of the Command  Management Team  may have exposed him to the various anti- smuggling strategies adopted  by the Enforcement Unit and the Patrol Teams  to  deal with the smugglers operating  within the jurisdiction and the numerous Creeks.

Security watchers believe  that  dealing with the smugglers in the Bauchi/ Gombe axis and making spectacular seizures, particular, the Asian country of Thailand  Foreign Parboiled rice and the Malaysian processed vegetable oil  , may not be much of a problem to him and the Command Patrol teams.”He is equal to the Task’’ , an officer remarked.

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