Customs : Why FOU Zone A, Remains A Force In Anti- smuggling Operations

 By Stephen Ubanna

 Looking back the over e last one year,Mohammed Aliyu, Comptroller , Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, could  count himself lucky  for having dedicated and committed  anti-smuggling officers.

 This is evident going by the number of exotic vehicles and Contraband goods, particular, the Asian country of Thai  par boiled rice,  intercepted and transferred to  the Command premises, by the Command Operations and Lagos Team Headed by Riks Lura, a fearless and uncompromising  Chief Superintendent of Customs, CSC,  and other Teams including the Command Strike Force , Headed by One CSC Ahmed.

  As  at last Wednesday last week, the number of  impounded exotic  vehicles from different locations in  Ogun, Lagos and Oyo states , which are parked in every available space in the  premises and the Command  Mechanical workshop, turned warehouse speaks volume.

 Investigation by The Value News  shows that the Command other patrol and Surveillance teams in the states in the south west geo=political region  are working round the clock  to remain relevant as the Riks Operations and Lagos Roving  Team appears to have dominated the  Command anti-smuggling war.

Not many people are surprised  at the number of exotic vehicles, bullet proof and multi-million naira, donkey skins including thousands of ‘’50’’ bags of  Thai  parboiled rice  and killer drugs, particular, tramadol and codein  that had been impounded  by the team.

Insiders informed  the Magazine, that when the operations  are tough for his men to handle, Riks had abandoned  his administrative  work in the office  to lead the team. This is evident going by the number of bullet proofs numbering over 15 and other exotic vehicles  that were  said  to have been evacuated  from different locations in Lagos metropolis, despite all the threats by the alleged importers.

The window provided by Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel, for those  who had lost their vehicles to Customs anti-smuggling Formations across the country  to visit the nearby FOU ,Command,  in order to process their  documents to take  delivery of their smuggled vehicles by paying  the appropriate duties and levies  may have turned the Command premises as a market of a sort as the car  dealers have turned the Command as their premises to process their documents.  Are using forged Customs papers, were said to have voluntarily turned up at the FOU, ZoneA , Premises, to perfect their papers, to avoid  running into trouble with  the Command Operations and Lagos Loving team or strike Force officers on the road.   

Notwithstanding,  the window provided for the vehicle smugglers  by the Customs Authorities to take delivery of their and use the country’s terminals dedicated for car imports to take delivery of their vehicle imports without problem, but the diehard smugglers , appear unprepared  to turn a new leaf.  Those who have tried to beat the Command patrol teams to  to bring into the Lagos market their smuggled vehicles  may not have escaped the Babagana Munguno, a retired Major General and National Security Adviser, NSA, Border Drills personnel on the road. The number of vehicles dented with red earth or badly damaged while the smuggled tried to escape but eventually caught shows that that there is no hiding place for the Cross-Border vehicle smugglers.

Many believe  that liyu, the Customs Comptroller, fierce  looks   may have forced the Command patrol Teams to compete for  seizure Contrabands goods  to win the Comptroller’s monthly Commendation or award. CSC Riks and Ahmed  may have won the Comptroller’s heart over the last one year because of their reliability and ability to deliver. Perhaps, the seizure that may have endeared Riks, particular, to the  Comptroller  and  Aminu Dahiru,  the then Assistant Comptroller General , ACG, in –charge of NCS, Zone A, Lagos   was  the operation  at Ipoiki waterside, Ogun,  state which resulted in the seizure of  over 00,000 jerry Cans of 25 litres  each , valued at over N1.5 bn.  The smugglers were said to have berthed 10  locally built barges  preparatory  for re-export  of the Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular, petrol, to  Republic of Benin.

CSC Riks Lura: Die-hard Anti-smuggling Officer

The Value News learnt that the first Team  from the Command  that were sent for the operation  may have been scared  by the fierce-looking smugglers who were armed to the teeth that they could not enter the Creek to take over the barges.

 The failure of the Team to dare the smugglers may have, to mobilse his men for the operation in 2018. The Team  may encouraged Aliyu, the Area Comptroller, to direct Riks, to lead the operation which involved   the Nigeria Navy, Western Marine Command  and the Old Ogun Command anti-smuggling officers.

  They were said to have over-powered the smuggles and succeeded in   evacuating the 100,000 ‘ 25 litres each  from the Ipoiki  Creek. Given the involvement of  the Navy  and two other Commands in the operation, the item  was shared ,among them. andRiks, was said to have supervised the  transfer of   the  Command  allocation which were loaded   in severa l trucks  to the Command  Ikeja premises, which were later  sold to the public on the orders Ali, the Comptroller General .

  President Muhammadu  Buharimay have given impressed by the petroleum products seizures that he gave  Kudos to Ali, the Comptroller General  and his men for  the spectacular seizure rry Cans.Before making  these remarkable seizures with his men over the last one  year at the FOU, Zone A, they were said to have   participated  in other  serious operations in the Command.  As the Officer –In-Charge of the the Command    Ijebu Ode Checkpoin, the then Command Operations  and Lagos Roving led  by  one CSC, Jack Okaabi, now incharge of the CGC Strike Force, Lagos, Zone a, Operations, which led to the seizure of 8 truck load of rice at Ogbomosho, Oyo stat and another  4,00 ‘’50’’ bags of par boiled rice in Abeokuta, Ogun state. in 2018.  Muhammed Uba , Garba, a former Comptroller of  FOU , Zone  A,  was said to have been worried  about the Ogbomosho operation because of the counter-attack by the people who were said to have come out with deadly weapons. The Customs Comptroller may  have  left the office  when it became clear that  the team members were on their way back  to Lagos with the 8 loaded trucks of foreign rice.

  The Ogbomosho operation may  not be different from the Iseyin, operation in Oyo state.  The interception of five  locally built barges  loaded with foreign rice ,  from Benin Republic which had berthed  at Oyingbo waterside  for distribution to other major rice markets in the south west and south east  geo-political region  by road speaks volume.

 Note that the interception of 8,00’’50’’ bags of Thai par boiled rice at Bakassi, Cross river  state,   regarded as a home of pirates ,  because of the closeness to the Central African country of Cameroon, by Riks led  patrol Team  at FOU, Zone C, in 2014, may have exposed him as a  thorough –bred anti-smuggling officer , ready to dare the rice smugglers  at any time

. His fame in the Bakassi operations  people feared, he would not be  able to  evacuate the seized foreign rice to the Command warehouse at Calabar because of the road block mounted by the smugglers but he was said to have led the way and asked others driver  to follow  him until they got to Calabar.  The Naval officer who was said to have  have provided  reinforcement for the team , was surprised that the Customs team dared the Bakassi smugglers. 

Those who are conversant with  his early years in the service, described him  as one  of Comptroller Victor Dimka’s  trained  anti-smuggling  officers  who was said to have   sustained the firepower that  he has continued  to be identified  as a reliable officer by his former and present Area Comptrollers.

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