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.
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.