Customs: Why Smugglers Worry Over The Two Muhammeds

By Stephen Ubanna

For years, officers and men of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, at the land Border stations  across the country  have been very tolerant of the Economic Community of West African States , ECOWAS, Trade Liberalisation  Schme,  ETLS, goods as a way of boosting trade among member nations.

The deployment of Muhammed Uba Garba, by Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, to Seme Command  appears to have exposed most of the Commission  member countries which may have taken advantage of the Nigerian large market to push repackaged made in Chni products  into the country. The Command aggressive anti-smuggling officers  under the close watch of Adahunse Rashid, a Deputy Comptroller  and Head of the Enforcement Unit  were said to have made a spectacular seizure of 14 cartons of Nitro femine soap smuggled into the country from the West African country of Ghana. Valuation experts put the duty paid Value, DPV, at about N169,855.00.

The  smuggler may have been have been having  his way over the years in smuggling the famine soap  into the country and smiling to the bank  over the years until luck ran out of him recently  when the Command patrol team swooped on him in his hideout to dispossess the criminal element of the items.  The Seme Customs Area Comptroller confirmed that femine soap are common in the Ghanaian market which may have forced the dealers to explore the Nigerian market.  The seizure of the femine soap may exposed the Command Customs personnel  to be more thorough in  checking mating the approved  ETLS goods  entering the country  going by the abuse of the scheme by me by member countries.

Mohammed Aliyu: Comptroller FOU. Zone A, Ikeja

More worrisome was the Command patrol teams  seizure of expired bags of foreign parboiled rice, an indication that most of the foreign rice  shipped into the Republic of Benin Port of Cotonou but smuggled through illegal routes   had expired . The Command had intercepted  13 bags of such expired foreign parboiled rice from smugglers  in the Badagry Creeks and waterside axis.  This should be source of worry to Mohammed Aliyu,  Comptroller Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, as virtually  all the patrol teams in the Command  are now involved in making rice seizures from smugglers.

 Only recently the Command Strike Force, Headed by Ahmed . A.. a Superintendent was said to said to have  transferred three trucks loaded with rice intercepted from different locations in Ogun and Oyo states.  The large quantities of rice transferred by the Strike Force team to the Command premises may have added up to the over  25,000 bags of ”50” bags of which the Command had made in the last three months.

There are fears that substantial quantities  of   the ”50” Kg bags of foreign  rice may have  expired  which inform the reason why experts from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration, NAFDAC,should   be sent to the Command  to assess the intercepted foreign  parboiled rice before Ali, the Coustoms Comptroller General,  give approval for the allocation of the items to the Internally  Dislaced Person, IDP, Camps, in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe including the IDP Camp in the south-south state of Edo.  

Maritime watchers believe that this is the only way to avoid supplying the IDP Camps or Orphanage homes  expired rice in the guise of giving assistance to them.  Perhaps, what should gladden Ali, the Customs Comptroller General’s heart , in the seizures made by the Command  Operations and Lagos Roving team, Headed by Riks Lura, a Chief Superintendent of Customs, CSC,   regarded in Customs circles  as fearless, was seizure by the team of  347 cartons of Codeine, a prohibited Pharmaceutical  produced should into the country through the seaport  valued by experts at about N46 million.

 Another major seizure from a private location in lagos was a smuggled bullet proof, 1919, model, from the Republic of Benin valued at  about  N140  million.  The Duty  on the bullet proof  vehicle  alone, according a Valuation expert  was N49 million while the Duty Paid Value, DPV, was 189 million.

 This is in addition the seizure by the team of 820 sacks of donkey skin in a warehouse allegedly operated by a Chinese Company  who has agents all over the country sourcing for the  animal skin which are used for the production of Pharmaceutical products  for curing of High Blood Pressure, HBP, and types of sickness , for export to the Asian country. According to Valuation experts,  the market value of the intercepted animal skins loaded in a ”40” Container was about N1.9 billion.  Aliyu may have sent a warning signal Chinese Donkey skin agents  that the game is up as they would never have any opportunity of exporting t the animal skin to their country with the assistance of their Customs Collaborators  on the export Seat to their  home country, China.

The seizure of the animal skin by  Riks led Operations and Lagos Roving team  indifferent parts of Lagos and Oyo state, may have forced many of the Chinese donkey skin  agents and the Nigerian dealers to go underground for fear of falling into the waiting hands of the team personnel who have a network of informants.

The FOU, Zone A, Customs Comptroller have been convinced that he had made adequate seizures of different merchandise goods including exotic vehicles and a bullet proof, 1919 model, that when Joseph  Attah, a Deputy Comptroller and Customs Spokesperson  in-charge of the government revenue  generating agency, sponsored Customs Duty proposed to do a coverage of his activities in the Command in the last two months, he did not hesitate in giving him the approval.

 On Thursday, July 4, 2019, Attah, and his Customs Duty Crew members, from Abuja, were at the Command where he handed them a long list  of the seizures made by the Command worth  over N14 billion. The Customs image maker was said to have left for another Command with Lagos a fulfilled person that coming to Lagos to do part of his official work was not a waste.

Many believe that the FOU, Zone A, Comptroller, is using Attah, as a link to sell himself to Ali, the Customs Comptroller General because of his direct access  to him as Customs  Image maker.

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