Ali Suspends Comptroller Oyeleke, As Kayode Makes Spectacular Seizures

By Stephen Ubanna

This is not the best of times for serving Comptrollers under  Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and  Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, NCS. This is because of the no nonsense attitude of the Comptroller General who is ready to sack or suspend any officer found wanting, irrespective of the rank. It is not surprising why the  Comptrollers appear to be very meticulous  in their actions and directive to their officers  on the field to avoid exposing themselves to the fifth  Columnists in the service who had the ears of Ali, to trap them.

The Comptrollers may have learnt their lesson from  Olakunle Abdurazak  Oyeleke, Comptroller, Kaduna/ Katsina Command, suspended early  this month (September, 2018) by  Ali,  over  undisclosed reasons . The suspension  may have be slammed on him barely two months in office.

As a prelude to getting to the root of the problem that led to the Comptroller’s  alleged suspension, the Comptroller General was said to have set up an investigation Committee, an indication that the fate of Oyeleke , the embattled Kaduna/Katsina Comptroller   still lies on  the hang.

When contacted ,Joseph  Atta, a Deputy  Comptroller and the Customs  Spokesman,   confirmed,  the suspension but  said the matter  was” under investigation”. It could be ascertained the duration  of the Investigation Committee, whether  it would be one month  or three months. But a source told the Magazine that the Committee is under  intense pressure  to expedite action on the Investigation   so that the suspended Comptroller would know  his fate instead of keeping  him waiting  endlessly.

Feelers from Customs circles shows that the Kaduna/Katsina Command Comptroller may have been suspended over  alleged ofence committed by his officers, which many believe, he could not have claimed ignorance  as their boss. This is because the officers who may have roped him into trouble  could not have gone out on operations on their own without his approval. This may have made the  case of the suspended Comptroller a difficult one.

The rumour making the rounds was that  his case  may have been worsened  by suspected moles  who were out to force him out from  the Command for  standing on their way.  A senior officer who spoke to the Magazine  disclosed that some members of the Comptroller General, CGC,  Task Force  on Investigation, may have  also played a part to expose the mess   at the Command  which facilitated the suspension of the embattled Comptroller.  The  suspended  Comptroller , according to a source,may have opportunity of defending himself  from the Kaduna/Katsina Command mess when he appears before  the Investigation Committee.

Officers  who could not hide their feeling over the alleged suspension of the Kaduna/katsina Customs boss  by Ali, described it as a ”set up”.  They noted that as a former Comptroller, Federal operations Unit, FOU, Zone D, Bauchi, which had nine state states in the north to cover in  its ant-smuggling war and revenue generation drive, there were never lapses or negative reports about him to the Management.   They noted that  he effectively mobilised the Officers of the Command  to police the 27 border routes scattered  in the nine states under his jurisdiction  .

A source confirmed that until his redeployment  to the Kaduna/ Katsina Command last August, the then FOU, Zone D, Comptroller and his officers  were  said to have made  several spectacular seizures of Contraband with a Duty Paid Value , DPV, of  about N187.08 million.   Between December, 2017, and May, 2018, the Command, was said  to have  made  a seizure of 4,488 bags of 50kg each, of foreign parboiled rice, 430 cartons of  noodle,  1,430 of ”25 kg” Jerry cans of  vegetable oil .  The management may have considered it a very impressive  performance  compared to other anti-smuggling Commands reports  because of the activities of the Boko Haram insurgents, particular in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.The Magazine thatthat there  were instances where the  insurgents  turned  smugglers  had laid ambush for officers on  anti-smuggling operations in the region to distabilize them.

t The experience garnered  at FOU, Zone D, Bauchi, may have toughened him  to face squarely the smugglers a   at the Kaduna /Katsina axis and the Corporate Organisations which evade the payment of Excise duties . He was said to have made  a promise to build on the achievements  made by Olusemire Kayode,  the former Comptroller of the Command.

Unknown to him, the Cooperation which he  got from officers at FOU, Zone D, may be  lacking  at the new Command.  This is because of the alleged struggle  by the Officers to  outshine their boss  because of their link at the Management level. He may have started well initially  at the Command as the officers were making seizures.

Take for instance, the month of August, 2018, alone, the Command,   was said to have generated about N852 million, which Oyeleke claimed was about  N340 million, higher than the revenue generated in the month of July.  The Command was  also said to have also made 81 seizures of Contrabands with a DPV, of about N33 million .  The seizures , according to him, included 31 vehicles, 606  bags of  foreign parboiled rice of 50kg each, 239 bags  of 50kg each of imported sugar, , 73 bales of second hand clothing, 327 Jerry cans  of vegetable oil of ”25 litres each.

His suspension  may have denied  him  the opportunity to join other Comptrollers in the Zone to welcome  Orgah Odibu, the new Acting Assistant Comptroller General, Headquarters  Zone B, Kaduna, last week.While Oyeleke may have landed himself  into trouble  at the Kaduna/ Katsina Command, barely  one month at the helms of affairs in the Command , Kayode, his predecessor, and his Operational team, officers, appear to have found their footing at  FOU, Zone C,  going by the spectacular seizures regularly made, including foreign parboiled rice, particular, from the Bakasi and Ikom , axis of Cross River state.

Only recently, the FOU, Zone  C Comptroller, confirmed the  seizure of  cartons of Pharmaceutical drugs containing  cough syrups with Codeine,  diazepam, tramadol injection and tablets, which had been banned by the government. Adamu Aliyu Mohammed, Comptroller, FOU, Zone, Ikeja, and his Predecessor, Muhammed Uba Garba, now Comptroller , Seme Command, may have opened the eye of their Counterparts in other Command about these dangerous drugs.

Perhaps, the major, seizure of the FOU, Zone C, Customs Comptroller  and his officers was  the seizure of military camouflage  uniforms and other military related items  at the Onitsha  Bridge head. ,  Anambra state.  Onitsha is the Commercial nerve center of the state and the entire south east in general.

According to him, the military uniforms  were Concealed  in  a truck laden  with household wares at   the Ontisha Bridge Head .  Given an insider information , he disclosed that there were about  90 pairs  of camouflage trousers and shirts, 97 pairs jungle hearts, 40 pairs of jungle boots, 202 pieces of  round neck vests and rolls of  plain  khaki materials  that were found in the truck.

The Onitsha camouflage military uniforms  seizure were said to be the second  to be made by the Unit  in less than six months. Last July the Command impounded   a truck laden  with over  4,000    pairs of military camouflage  uniforms  and 300 pairs  of combatant boots. The military items may have released from the Oil and Free Zone Seaport, Onne,  Rivers state. This is evident going by the location where  the items were intercepted by the FOU, Zone C, officers. It was said to have been intercepted  along the Aba-Eleme  highway, while  heading to an undisclosed location in the south east . There  were indications that the agent may be taking the Consignment to the importer’s warehouse at Aba, the  Commercial nerve center of Abia state.

With the seizure of the  military uniforms, Comptroller Kayode,  may have sent a signal to smugglers in the south east and the south including the politicians ,  who are still hoping to import  weapons, military uniforms and other military related items to scare opponents in the  2019 general elections that it was no longer  going to be business as usual. He was said to have beamed his searchlight at the seaports, border routes in the two southern regions to be careful. Agents taking delivery of their Client’s Containers which had K-leg were said to be upbeat while approaching the Onitisha bridge because of Concealment or Under   Valuation .  They fear being stopped  by Kayode’s  no nonsense fierce looking officers on the road. Some of them who have had a smooth journey from Lagos, beating all the Customs Checkpoints on the road , were said to have actually been stopped by Kayode’s men on the  road and bassed on intelligence gathering and  their Containers transferred to the  Command premises at Owerri for Examination.

Those found guilty were said to have been issued Demand Notice, DN. The FOU, Zone C, officers , sources said, may have been given more jobs to do  on the road in  the south east and south Geo-political regions, particular Anambra state, but for the interventionist  measures put in place by  Mohammed the, FOU, Zone A, Comptroller and implemented by the Operations and Lagos Roving team officers on the road. The officers and  the Ijebu Ode, Ogun state, Surveillance , team, at different times, were said to have re-routed suspected Containerised cargoes going to the south east back to the Command warehouse, at Ikeja, for  Examination and DN, issued to those found guilty.

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