Aliyu Waiting On The Wings To Take Over, As Muhammed Gives Two Weeks Scorecard

By Stephen Ubanna

Mohammed Aliyu, the Kebbi state born former Comptroller of Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Seme Command, the country’s largest border station, who was affected  in the recent major  shake- up and redeployment of  about 70 Comptrollers appear to be waiting on the wings  to take over from Muhammed Uba Garba, his counterpart at Federal Operations  Unit, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja.

Insiders told the Magazine that  his redeployment to FOU Zone A did not come to him as a surprise  because he had long expected it even  when he was serving at the Customs Headquarters. This is because he wants to prove to critics that he would do better as an Enforcement  officer at his new Command  than what he did at Kwara/Niger and Seme Command. But he may have to put at the back of his mind that FOU, Zone , A, is a different kettle of fish as he had the  six states in the south west geo-political region :Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti to police including the seaports and bonded terminals  in the region.

The Magazine learnt that  Muhammed, who is expected to take over from him at Seme has prepared his hand over note . The Magazine learnt  Aliyu, who was initially desperate  to be redeployed  to the Command by using his contacts at the Headquarters to influence the posting was no longer in a hurry as he was said to have told his  successor  that he should  not be in a hurry to hand over to him as he prepares his own handover note at Seme Command.

There are  indications that  Aliyu, the Seme Comptroller will take over from Muhammed, the FOU, Zone A, Comptroller on Monday, August 12, 2018. This is evident going by the side talks at the Command at the gathering of  officers.

Muhammed Garba: Redeployed To Seme Command

The Apparent shift in coming over to resume duty at the Command from Muhammed may have given him the opportunity to  give account  of his one year and three months stewardship at the Command. The Customs boss had expressed appreciation to the officers and men of the Command including Journalists  who stood by him in the anti-smuggling  war  within the period, noting that without their support he could not have made the laudable achievements in curtailing the activities of rice smugglers and the activities of fraudulent  importers with their agents at the seaports. He is optimistic that Aliyu would  do better as he is ”more aggressive than him”.  He urged the officers to extend the same level of  Cooperation given to him to his successor.

Given an insider information, the Customs Comptroller disclosed that within the last two weeks, the Command ‘s Operations and Lagos Roving team, headed by Riks Lura, a Chief Superintendent of Customs and the Warehouse Operation team headed by Sule Muttalib, an Assistant Comptroller of Customs  including other patrol teams made  spectacular seizures.

An elated Muhammed disclosed  that the Command   intercepted  a MAN Diesel  Truck  with   registration number  XB 286 BEN  along Afromedia  Estate  by Egbeda  junction  beside Alaba  international market carrying  2,748 cartons of DSP Codeine Cough syrup 100mg  of 100 bottles per carton. The truck  was also said to have carried 95 cartons of  Chaka  pain Xtra . The drugs were said to have been intercepted by the Lura led Operations and Lagos Roving team . This is the second time that the Customs Command Operations and Lagos Roving team had intercepted Codeine manufactured in United Kingdom  in the last  one month. The Magazine learnt that the driver  had abandoned the truck on sighting the officers of the Command Operations and Lagos Roving  team and fled.

The seizure of the Codeine drugs was in addition to  49 cartons of tramadol capsules  100mg  that were evacuated  from a warehouse at Ajoa Estate. The interception of the Pharmaceutical drugs were said to have been based on credible information.

Many believe that the Customs  Command easily intercept the drugs substance because  the government had banned the importation of Pharmaceutical drugs that contain Codeine into the country. The intercepted Codeine, the Customs boss confirmed had a Duty Paid Value, DPV, of about N1.175 billion.

Given the inter agency relationship, the FOU, Zone A, Customs Comptroller disclosed that  the intercepted Pharmaceutical drugs will be handed over to the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration, NAFDAC, for further investigation  and prosecution of suspects.

Perhaps, what may have gladdened the heart of the Customs Comptroller  within the two weeks of the Command’s operation was  the evacuation of 21 sacks of  Pangolin Scales  weighing 1,031 kg  and four pieces of  Elephant tusk weighing  35kg from a shop  at Tejusho market, Yaba. The Tejusho operation was said to have been  based on credible intelligence by the  Mutalib warehouse team.

The dealer of the Pangolin scales and Elephant tusks was said to have fled  leaving the Customs personnel to take over the shop. A s at press time , the shop owner was still at large as  the Command step up its investigation  towards getting the dealer arrested  for prosecution.The seized pangolin scales and  Elephant tusks  , according the Comptroller has a DPV, of about N254  million.

It would be recalled that  Mallam Usman Jibril, accompanied  by the CITES delegates  from  the United Nations, Un,  had  visited the Command last April where he inspected  various seizures of Pangolin items presented to him and his team. He was said to have commended Muhammed and his officers  for a” job well done” and  urged them to continue the anti-smuggling drive. Jibril who  had repeatedly made it clear to those that care to listen that  the” trade on such endangered species  is prohibited” , and therefore the ”need to fight  against such illegality so that  such endangered species do  not go into extinction, has vowed that there  was no going back”.

The last two weeks of the Command Enforcement operations under Muhammed  was also said to  have resulted  in the interception and detention of 17 exotic vehicles.  The  12 of the exotic vehicles detained were said to have been linked to the Command Operations and Lagos Roving team.  The vehicles were said to have been detained over alleged underpayment and could only be released if the owners pay the Demand Notice, DN,  bill that would be given to them. It was gathered that five of the exotic vehicles  had been seized outright  by the Command for non compliance to the country’s fiscal policy.

The Command also made a seizure of a Dangote truck loaded with smuggled rice from the Idiroko axis in Ogun state. The truck was aid to have been loaded with 380 bags of ”50”kg bags of rice and a vehicle containg 140 kegs of processed ”25’ kg vegetable oil.  Muhammed who could not hide his feelings  in the Command strive to drive away  rice smugglers  from the south west geo-political  region  out of the market disclosed that  the Asian Countries of Thailand and Vietenam, which are the major rice  exporters to Nigeria and the West West African sub-region in general has lost the market.

He confirmed that prior to the ban on the importation of rice through the land border because of the inclusion of rice by the Central Bank of Nigeria among the 41 items barred  from accessing the Foreign Exchange market , the country was importing  1.3 million metric tones  of foreign par boiled rice per annum , stating that this has dropped to 784 000 metric tones. This is not unexpected. This is  because since  July , 2017, the CBN, had not issued Form M , to any rice importer in the country.

The FOU, Zone A, Customs Comptroller , may have made a head way in getting Imohimi Edgal, Commissioner of Police in Lagos state to release the  nine vehicles loaded with foreign parboiled which was  intercepted by the then Command Lagos Roving team headed by Jack Okpabi, a Chief Superintendent of Customs but fell into the waiting hands of Ibrahim Idris, Inspector General of police men on the road.

The vehicles  driver had fallen into the waiting hands of the IGP’S patrol squad because they had followed one way. Each of the vehicles was said to have carried about 25 bags of ”50” parboiled rice. The nine vehicles, loaded  with  smuggled rice ought to have been released long ago by the police Authorities to the Customs Command but they   had put up  stringent conditions in place  before  it would be handed over to the Customs.

The Customs  Comptroller  could not hide his joy  when he confirmed that the Command got four Commendation letters from the Comptroller General, Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General for their  achievements.  H gave kudos to the Customs Comptroller General  for his support to the Command  that brought about the  feat achieved  which was acknowledged by people from all walks of life , both within and outside the south west geo-political region.

It is not surprising why importers with their agents including smugglers  are jittery over his deployment to Seme.  This is because they knew it is no longer going to be business as usual as he would block all areas of revenue leakage in the Command and bar unnecessary visits to his office by agents. He  has a message to importers with their agents  to do the right thing to get away from  his trouble or be ready to face the full wrath of the law. He would want smugglers still operating within the Seme axis to turn a leaf or because ready to be forced out.

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