By Stephen Ubanna
Between, late February and much of June, 2021, there have been rumorus making the rounds that Teakwood and other unapproved Agricultural products are been exported to the Asian country of China through the Lagos ports of Apapa and Tin can Island ports.
The rumour became pronounced between last May that the Comptroller General of Customs, CGC, Strike Force, Team A, under the close watch of Ahmadu Shuaibu, a Deputy Comptroller, and his Management Team had to go back to the dawing to restrategise on how to put it to a stop by putting a close tab on the goods being exported at the ports.
Shuaibu, the CGC, Strike Force, Coordinator, was said to have given a matching order to the officer in-charge of the Team A, Operations to get his officers more involved in checkmating the cargoes for exports at the Lagos ports. An official of the CGC Strike Force Team A, told The Value News that they were encouraged to do so by the continuous seizure of Containers loaded with foreign goods that were said to have contravened the government Fiscal policy at the ports, particular Apapa port, which has Comptroller Malanta Yusuf, as the Area Controller of the Apapa Customs Command, overseeing the port and several other Deputy Comptrollers holding key positions both at the Command and at the terminal levels.
The CGC Strike Force operations officers deployed to the Lagos ports, acting on information and with the support of the of the Information and Communication Technology, ICT, Component, officials, of the Team , were said to have been shocked when they identified four Containers that were said to have been loaded with Teakwood meant for export to Asian country of China.
Given their insistence that the Containers must be examined by officials of all the relevant agencies at the port despite the reluctance of the Apapa Customs Command, Export Seat officials to do so, it was said to have been carried out.
The Value News learnt the CGC Strike Force Coordinator was amused when he was alerted by his boys at the Lagos port about the discovery of the Teakwood loaded in the four Containers for export to China. Although, the CGC Strike Force Team A, officials had kept the Lagos port where the items were discovered a closely guided secret but The Magazine taped its contacts at the ports who revealed that four Containers load of Teak for export to China was found at Apapa port.
An eyewitness account disclosed that there is no way the four Containers load of Teakwood could have gone through the documentation process and finally approved for export without the final signature of Yusuf, the Command Area Comptroller.
The Magazine Learnt the CGC Strike Force Coordinator, who had taken it as a point of Responsibility last December and early this year, in addressing the Deputy Comptrollers holding key positions at the Apapa Command to ensure that they do the right thing to avoid running into trouble did not hesitate in ordering for the immediate seizure of the Containers loaded with the Teakwood, and subsequent transfer to the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal, ILT, which is a Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, facility, for warehousing of overtime cargoes.
The question on the lips of most people was how the four Containers load of Teakwood beat the tight security mounted at the Apapa exit gate by the Head, Ali Ibrahim, a Deputy Comptroller and his officers, fueling speculations making the round that the officers may have acted on the instructions of a higher Authority to allow the four Containers load of Teak wood laden on the trucks gain entrance into the port exxport without scrutinizing their documents to know their contents.
Many believe that for the four Containers load of Teak wood to have been seized at the Apapa port, clearly shows that it has been a thriving export business over the years. Deputy Comptroller Shuaibu, who threw open the four Containers load of Teakwood and other seized Containers load of prohibited goods, in his capacity as the Coordinator, of the CGC Strike Force, Team A, on Wednesday, June 7, 2021, had confirmed that the four Containers load of Teakwood, have been seized because it had contravened the Customs and Excise Management Act, CEMA, Cap 2004.
. Agents who spoke to The Magazine disclosed that it is very difficult for any Teakwood importer to dare to take such cargo to Tincan Island, port, under the close watch of Comptroller Abdullahi Musa, popular, MBA, in Customs circles, the Area Controller, Tin can Island Customs Command and who had been recommended by the Customs Authority to proceed to the Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos, Plateau state, north central Nigeria geo-political region for an Executive Programme.
He was said to have set a structure to checkmate exports of cargoes through the port and to ensure that the exporters comply with the extant Laws. The Agents were emphatic when they noted that it is only a thet Apapa port that such deals could be seen because of the several interests who are ready to Compromise their position to allow such prohibited cargoes go through the port.
It could not be ascertained the Duty Paid Value, DPV, of the four Containers load of Teakwood as efforts to speak to Shuaibu, the CGC, Strike Force, Team A, Coordinator, including phone calls and visits proved abortive.But a document made available to The Magazine by Theophilous Duniya, a Deputy Superintendent of Customs and spokesperson of the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Okeja, at the instance of The CGC Strike Force, Team A, Coordinator, shows that the DPV, of the four Containers load of Teakwood including 500 cartons of Foot-wears,343 rolls of synthetic grass cover and 1,709 bags of 50 Kg each of Foreign Par boiled Rice seized by the Team in month of June alone was about N664.563 million.
Given an insight on how the four Containers load of Teak wood were seized at the Lagos port, an elated Shuaibu, noted it was due ‘’to the meticulous documentary checks, of the CGC Strike Force, Team A, officials and the ICT, Component of the Team, which an insider said is headed by one Mohammed, a Chief Superintendent of Customs.
The ICT guru and his boys were said to have recovered the cumulative sum of N2 billion, which could have entered into private accounts, between January and June for the government, 2021, due to alleged cases of False declaration, under declaration and wrong classifications.
Appealing to the traders ‘’to be more Committed to the well-being of the nation’s economic recovery by Complying with the government extant Laws and policies on importation, aimed at reviving the moribund industries’’, he disclosed that ‘’it is the only to sustain the existing ones’’.
A source at the Customs Headquarters told The Magazine that there is nothing the CGC, Strike Force, Team A, Coordinator, is doing without intimating Hameed Ali, a retired army Colonel and Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs, NCS, with his regular reports on their weekly and monthly activities.
Unconfirmed reports has it that between October , 2020 and now, the CGC Strike Force, Coordinator, Team A, alone, has about four volumes of files, containing different reports of The Team activities that had been sent to Ali, the Customs, Comptroller General, and further exposing his Administrative skills.