By Stephen Ubanna
Those who think that Ahmadu Shuaibu, A Deputy Comptroller and Coordinator, Comptroller General of Customs , CGC, Strike Force, Team A, Lagos, and his 122, officers, will slow down their pace of work, would be disappointed.
The ad’hoc interventionist Team which covers the south west states of Ogun, Lagos, Oyo ,Osun , Ekiti and Ondo, including the Lagos seaports of Apapa, Tin can Island, Port Multi-services Terminal Limited, PTML, including the Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, KLT, phases I and II, appeared not to have stepped up their operations as the officers have continued to expose the fraudulent importers with their agents at the ports and give the smugglers Contraband a battle of their live.
Even the foreign parboiled rice smugglers and their sponsors, particular, in various markets in the south west states are no longer finding it funny to carry out their nefarious trade as the Shuaibu’s men who arescatered all over the region have continued to intercept smuggled rice along the inappropriate routes acting on information.
From the onset, Shuiabu and his Management Team, have made it clear that any Containerised cargo found to have contravened the extant Laws of clearing goods at the port would be intercepted and evacuated to the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal, IKLT, where it would be ’’ detained, examined and action taken on them’’. He may have sent a message to the importers and the agents at the port that the era of penetrating the Task Force Teams at the port to cover their inadequacies is over is over as there is no room for Compromise, insisting that any falsely declared Consignment found to have Contravened the Customs and Excise Management Act, Cap 20 04, would be ‘’liable to outright seizure’’. This may have informed why the Team had intercepted some 10 Containers loaded with falsely declared goods at the Lagos ports and bonded terminals.
Informed sources told The Value News that much of the seized Containers were evacuated from APM, a Container terminal at Apapa port, under Yusuf Malanta, the Apapa Customs Command Comptroller. Note that the AM terminal is one of the biggest Container terminals in the West African sub-region, which according to the Nigerian Ports Authority sources handle over 70% of the cargoes coming into the country.
Given an insider information of the items found in the suspected Containers that were evacuated from the Lagos ports, to the IKLT, shuaibu, who talked tough said 575 bales of secondhand lothing, 1,440 cartons of Super market goods and 664 cartons of Pharmaceutical drugs without the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration, NAFDAC, registration number and approval were seized .
This is in addition to 540 cartons of foot wears and 1,600 bags of foreign parboiled rice of 50 Kg each.The Team may have been emboldened to go all out against the foreign rice smugglers because President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General, had banned the importation of foreign rice and vehicles through the land border on January 1st, 2017.
With the seizures, the CGC, Strike Force Team A Coordinator, has sent a message to the fraudulent importers with their agents and the smugglers there is no hiding place for them as they would always be fished out no that the strategies employed to carry out their nefarious trade.
The question on the lips of most people was how the Shuaibu led Headquarters’ adhoc team, officers were able to penetrate the Lagos sea ports and bonded terminals which are manned by hundreds of officers from Apapa and TinCan island Commands to make seizures of the falsely declared declared goods, wrong classification, Concealment and evacuate them to the IKLT. Shuaibu, who could not hide hide his feelings had said that the Team could achieve all that through’ ’credible intelligence and meticulous documentary checks’’.
A senior Customs officer who have had the opportunity of working with the CGC Strike Force , Team A, Coordinator at Federal Operations Unit, FOU , Zone C, Owerri, Imo state, some two years ago when he was the Command Head of the Operations, had described him as ‘’a dedicated and Committed officer who likes challenges and ready to put in his best even at the risk of life’’. The officer disclosed that he had forced many big time smugglers in the south-south state of Cross river and Akwa-Ibom state to under ground as most of the fraudulent importers with their agents using the south east ports of Calabar, Delta , Rivers and PortHarcourt II, Onne ports , were forced to turn a leaf to avoid playing into the hands of his Patrol team officers on the road.
Appealing to the fraudulent importers, agents and their Customs Collaborators to have a change of mind and ensure they do the right, he averred that it is the only way ‘’to make the country great again and avoid youths restiveness and banditry ‘’. He gave kudos to the Compliant importers and their agents, urging them never to relent in doing so as ‘’we have no other country other than Nigeria’’. Valuation experts had put the value of goods seized in the month of May, 2021, by the Shuaibu led CGC interventionist Unit at a Duty Paid Value , DPV, of about N340 million.
For the importers with their agents who had Compromised the officers at the ports to shortchange the government by making underpayment , they would never forget what there are going through in the hands of the Shuaibu’s men at the Information and Communication Technology, ICT, unit. The ICT officers who were said to have always had the manifest of the imports in advance to know what is loaded in their Containers and the duties paid were said to have discovered high level of fraud. This is evident going by the recovery of about N426.35 million lost revenue for the government, Note that this is money that could have entered into private pockets, an ICT officer remarked. Recall that between January and April, the team had evacuated and detained 39 Containers loaded with falsely declared goods from the Lagos ports and bonded terminals and recovered billions of naira for the government.
Many believe that that the CGC Strike Fore Team A, could have recovered rec much more than N426.35 million, lost for the government in the month of May, both for the proactive step taken by the CGC Strike Force Coordinator, late last year , to talk to the Deputy Comptrollers at the APM and those at the Bonded Terminals outside the premier port to sit up and ensure they do the right thing by collecting the appropriate revenue for the government on all imported goods.
This is may have forced Yusuf Malanta, the Apapa Command Comptroller to beam his searchlight on the officers at the terminals at the port and the bonded houses under the control of the Command . He may have taken the bold initiative because of the news making the rounds that most of the importers with their agents who had penetrated the ranks of NPA, and the Customs Authorities now decide where to step down their Containers to take delivery of it. This may have informed why the Apapa Command monthly have continue d to be on the rise in the recent time as it had continued to make Tramadol seizures.