By Elizabeth Chukwuma
Smugglers operating within the Iseyin and Shaki axis’s of Oyo state including the porous borders across the various local government areas in Ogun state who think that they could take advantage of the outbreak of the Coronavirus which had become pandemic to smuggle Contraband into the country will be disappointed.
This is because the Comptroller General of Customs, CGC, Strike Force, Border Drill sector 1, Lagos Zonal office and The Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, are said to have mapped out strategies to frustrate their efforts. This is evident going by the strategies that had been put place by the CGC Strike Force, which is yielding result going by the quantity of Contraband seized and transferred to the Government Warehouse, ikeja, on a weekly basis by the various Patrol Teams set up by Adba Kakud acting Deputy Comptroller and Coordinator of the Intervention Force.
Indeed, the CGC Strike Force Team at Ijebu-Ode, Ogun state, appear to have become the greatest headache of smugglers operating in the south west geo-political region as they have been stopped severally with their smuggled Contraband that they could not access the south-south states of Edo, Delta or the south east states of Anambra Imo and Abia.
Perhaps what may have made the Ijebude Ode CGC Strike Force Team case very interesting was the fact that there are other Teams from the Border drill sector 1, and the Federal Operational Unit, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos, at the checkpoint. Given the fact that Kakud ,the Coordinator of the CGC Strike force who had understood that smuggling is a seasonal activity, he was using it to his advantage as he has put Patrol Teams on the red alert in the discharge of their duties.
Described as a thorough bred anti-smuggling officer, the CGC, Strike Force, Zonal Coordinator was said to have given a matching order to the Patrol Teams to go all out for the smugglers and dispossess them of their smuggled Contraband into the country.
It was not surprising why the Teams were said to have been competing over the last two months to make seizures and transfer to the Government Warehouse at Ikeja in order to win the heart of the Coordinator. In spite of the Contraband seizures being made by the Teams, their major setback remains means of Conveyance to the Warehouse, .
According to insider sources, the CGC Strike Force, major problem remains problem of insufficient operational vehicles, that had made it difficult for the Patrol Teams to transfer with ease Contraband seizures to the Government Warehouse at Ikeja. More worrisome was the number of dilapidated and broken down Operational vehicles that liter the premises, begging for repairs.
The Value News findings shows that in the last one month there had been intense struggle for the few available operational vehicles by the various Teams. The Staff officer, one Enemuo, a Superintendent of Customs, was said to have been cracking his brain on a daily basis on how to meet the demand of the patrol Team Leaders.
The Magazine cited one of the Patrol Team Leaders, Esiet, a Chief Superintendent of Customs, at the CGC Strike Force, on Wednesday, March 27, 20120. Esiet, the officer in-charge of the Baji Checkpoint, along the Lagos –Seme Expressway may not have come to solicit for operational vehicle for his Team because of the low smuggling activities in the area,.
This may have been necessitated by the border closure across the country with the neighbouring countries of Benin, Niger and the Central African country of Cameroon. Note that the bulk of the CGC Strike Force, Lagos Zonal office, Contraband seizures were said to have been made at the Ijebu Ode checkpoint.
Given the dearth of Operational vehicles, the Ijebu Ode Checkpoint Team leader, was said to have be making alternate arrangement on how transfer seized Contraband to the government Warehouse at Ikeja. There are indications that other Teams leaders who could not get vehicles allocation from the Staff officer to take their seized goods to the Strike Force Operational base at the Customs Training College, Ikeja, had resorted to the Ijebu Ode team leader style of doing so: make alternate arrangements. It is working out as the transfer of seized Contraband to the Government Warehouse at Ikeja are no longer being delayed, an officer remarked .
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari, had banned the importation of foreign parboiled rice and vehicles through the land borders across the country last year to ensure patronage of Nigerian ports by the Importers who had relocated to Benin Terminal ,Contonou and Bollore port in Benin Republic as well as the ports in Togo, Ghana and other Countries in The West African Sub-region to take delivery of their transit cargoes on January 1st, 2017.
This may have given ammunition to the Kakud boys to really go out for the smugglers. This is evident going by the items that was said to have been transferred to the Ikeja Government Warehouse between January 4th and March 21st, 2020.vehicles. The items, according to an insider ranges from Foreign par boiled rice, Vvegetable oil, unregistered Pharmaceutical drugs, premium motor sprit, PMS, popular, petrol, Poultry products to fairly used vehicles.Others are truck tyres, bales of second hand clothing, used ladies bags, used shoes, used tyres and different cartons of Longrich products.
The value of the Contraband that were said to have been seized by the CGC Strike Force, various Patrol Teams in Lagos was put at about N637.2 million. The Strike Force under the close watch of Kakud was said to have also recovered about N588.6 million for the government. This is the amount which could have entered into private pockets both for the intervention of the CGC Strike Force.
Putting together the N737.2 million , being the value of the seized contraband and the N588.8 million recovered lost funds, according to a Revenue officer, brings the cumulative amount generated by the CGC Strike Force, Lagos Zonal office, alone, between January 4, 2020 and March 21, 2020, to about N1.23 billion.
The good news was that Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, has a copy of the report of the Contraband seizures and the DN given out to fraudulent importers which makes it difficult for any record to be altered.
It is instructive to note that the anti-smuggling efforts of the Border Drill, sector 1, FOU, Zone A and CGC Strike Force, in the south west rgion, may have have force smugglers operating in the region to devise new strategies to ensure that Smuggled Contraband land at their destinations. Those of them who had succeeded in going through Ondo axis in Ondo state were said to have been unlucky to fall into the waiting hands of Comptroller Kayode Olusemire of the FOU, Zone C, Patrol teams. TheFOU, Zone C, Patrrol Teams, may have intensified their anti-smuggling drive in the south-south and south east as Olusemire regularly visists them at their various locations to boost their effort. A soruce disclosed that he was usually accompanied on the visits by Ahmadu Shuaibu, a Deputy Comptroller, in-charge of the Command Operations.
This may have informed why the Benin City, Edo state, Government Ware house is filled with smuggled goods from Benin Republic, particular, foreign parboiled rice and used vehicles. This is in addition to containers, both ‘’20’’ and ‘’40’’ allegedly cleared at the Lagos seaports but intercepted by his men on the road.
Investigations by the Magazine shows that some of the Containers and vehicles cleared from the Lagos port which fell into the waiting hands of the Olusemire’s boys on the road, were found to have breached the government Fiscal policy. The importer and the agent with the connivance of the importers bank had shortchanged the government in the payment of duty. Underpayment is one of the major problem of Lagos seaports.
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