By Stephen Ubanna
When Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel was appointed the Comptroller General , Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, in August 2015,given blanket a mandate by President Muhammadu Buhari to ”reform , reorganise and improve the revenue generation of the Service”, nobody knew the nature the reform or reorganistaion would take.
Prior to his resumption of duties,
He may have started test-running his action plans for the Service, when he set up the Compliance team to complement the anti-smuggling efforts of the Federal Operations Unit, FOUs, across the country. The Compliance team was said to have been decentralised in its operations to make it more effective. The team A, was made to oversee the anti-smuggling operations in Lagos, Ogun, Eki, Ondo, Oyo and Osun , the six states in the south west geo-political region, the team B, took charge of the anti-smuggling operations in the northern axis while team C, took control of the south and south-south geo-political region.
Unsatisfied with the conduct of the team members, he quickly replaced it with the Strike Force, baptised the ”Comptroller General of Customs, CGC, Strike Force with members drawn from the FOUs, across the country, Customs Intelligence Unit, CIU, Information Communication Technology, ICT, and Drivers.
He was said to have placed the Strike Force team under the control of a Deputy Comptroller, who served as the National Coordinator while an Assistant Comptroller was made a Zonal Commander in each of the three Zones, inherited from the old Compliance Structure
Austine Chidi, a DCG, in-charge of the Service Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection, regarded as a member of the member of the Cabal at the Customs Headquarters who announced the Changes also appointed three Deputy Comptroller Generals to head each of the Zones: Zone A, Lagos, Zone B, Kaduna and Zone C, Owerri, Imo state.
Many believe that that the retired Army Colonel may have bowed to pressure from the Cabal to reconstitute the CGC Strike when they found that Abdullahi Kirawa, a Deputy Comptroller and the National Coordinator, who understands the nature of his assignment has become too powerful that he has direct access to the Customs Comptroller General. The Cabal who may not have it found it funny have no option but to bring Kirawa down from the Olympia height.
Maritime watchers had thought that with the decentrantralisation of the CGC , Strike Force, the Cabal would go to rest as they have achieved their purpose of getting a piece of the action, they got it wrong. Their next target was to plot for the decentralisation of the seaports to whittle down the powers of the Area Comptrollers.
Insiders told The Value News, the powerful DCGs and ACGs, who were chips of the old block where the Heads of the CIU and Valuation Departments at the seaports report directly to the CGC, were maintained. Recall that Sani Nuhu, Bariko Kbagi and Musa Tahir, all retired ACGs and Julius Nwagwu, were products of the old CIU, structure, which made them too powerful that they could over-rule the decision of any Area Comptroller in the south west.
A one- time Apapa Area Comptroller who was caught in the act was found kneeling down before Nuhu, then a Deputy Comptroller , begging for pardon, despite the insults rained on him by the Apapa CIU , boss.
The fall out was the plot by the CIU Cabal at the Apapa sea port to take advantage of their closeness to Nnenadi Usman, then minister of Finance to plot for the sacking of the then Old Customs management in 2004 and replacing it with a new which was mixture of those who believe in the change and those who did not believe in the change.
It was not surprising that there was
Efforts to Joseph Attah, a Deputy Comptroller and the Customs Image maker, on the
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