By Stephen Ubanna
For much of last year and early January, 2018,, there was rumor making the rounds that Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General ,Nigeria Customs Service, NCS,might redeploy some of the Comptrollers at the Customs Commands .
This is to pave way for new Comptrollers to come in to further consolidate the gains of the Presidential mandate given to him to restructure, reform and improve the revenue generation of the Service.
The rumour became more pronounced with the various seizure of Contrabands by the patrol teams of the Federal Operations Units, FOUs, across the country. The situation was made worse for Comptroller heading Commands at the south west where Mohammed Uba Garba , Comptroller FOU, Zone A, Ikeja appears to have exposed their gross inefficiency as his Roving team headed by Jack Okpabi, continues to intercept Containers and assorted vehicles detained or seized over alleged false declaration and breech of Customs Law after examination at the Command Customs warehouse.
There was the rumour that more than half of the 16 Comptrollers heading Commands at the souh western states of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti, Osun and Ondo would be affected. reployed to other Commands , Zonal offices or to the Customs Headquarters . The Comptrollers whose name featured most in the rumour mill that would go were Jibrin Musa, Apapa port , Aliyu Mohammed, Seme, Sani Madugu, Ogun, Odibo Ochonma, Ikorodu Container Terminal,KLT, among others. There was no sign that Barsha Yusuf, Comptroller, Tincan Island Command , would be removed so soon because of the sanity he had restored at the port resulting in the improved monthly revenue generation of the Command from a miserable N1 billlion inherited from his predecessor to N25, billion.
Insiders told the Magazine that while he was confident that he could still remain at tin-can Island to continue his good work, there was great lobbying at the Customs Headquarters for the his replacement by a power block at the Customs Headquarters who believes that he would be better used in the Service if he is redeployed to the Headquarters to Head the Pre Arrival Assessment , PAR, unit, a platform which he had joined forces with other people to create for the Service with the termination of the contract of the Service providers by the government. His services at the Customs Headquarters became more needed with the Customs migration to Nigeria Customs Integrated System NCIS, Information Communication Technology, ICT,2 from NCS 1, It is a more complicated ICT version which requires someone with World Customs Organization ICT background to take over control of the Unit to forestall failure in its implementation at the Commands to facilitate legitimate trade facilitation. He became a Candidate for the PAAR Seat at the Headquarters with the mistakes experienced by importers with the agents in the pilot phase of implementing the Scheme at Kirikiri Lighter Terminal, Phase 1. It was the likes of Barsha , who participated in creating the platform for Customs that would correct the mistakes before being introduced to other Commands, a source said.
In spite of the pressures mounted on Ali, the Comptroller General, he was hesitant to bow to give approval for the redeployment of the Kebbi state born Comptrollerr and Computer guru to redeploy to the headquarters to avoid creating a leadership vacuum at Tin-can Island Command. The Customized seizure made at Tin-can Island port with his knowledge of the ICT speaks for him. This is evident with the interception of 31 Containers concealed with bags of parboiled rice and an additional20 Containers loaded with 25Kg jerry cans of Vegetable oil.
Moreso, he had followed from the sea the ships freighting arms to Nigeria Concealed in ”20” Containers. the 2,671 pump Action rifles discovered in the three ”20” Containers shipped from the European country of Turkey and discharged at the port were seized and hand handed over to FOU, Zone , which later handed over to the Department of State Security, DSS, FOR safe keeping .
It was gathered that when the Comptroller General eventually saw reason over the argument of the apologists for the redeployment to the Headquarters of the Computer guru, he caved in. It was therefore not surprising when the list of the Comptrollers redeployed was released after the last Management meeting, his name was on the list.
While Comptrollers affected in the shakeup exercise relocated to their new Commands immediately, Barsha was never in a hurry to hand over to his successor, Mohammed Abdullahi Baba-Musa, who was coming from the Headquarters. he took his time to tidy up his table and perfect the records before sending a signal to the new Comptroller to come over for formal hand-over to him
Many had expected the Comptroller General to querry Barsha for failing to report his duty post imeediately, they got it wrong. this is because Ali saw the former Tin-can Island Comptroller as an ICT asset to Customs and therefore was not ready to pile pressure on him to hand over to new Comptroller with ”immediate effect”. On monday, January 29, 2018, Barsha, handed over to Baba-Musa, the new Comptroller in a well attended ceremony by both officers and stakeholders. he was encouraged by the accolade s showered on his predecessor by officers and men of the Service as well as the stakeholders over his good works which resulted in improved revenue generation of the Command as he blocked all areas of revenue leakage at the port.
Industry stakeholders see the coming of Baba-Musa, the new Comptroller, to Tin-can Island Command as a home coming. He demonstrated this when he promised to build on the ”legacies of his predecessor on all its ramifications.”
He got a resounding ovation from the officers and men of the Service including the industry stakeholders who were at the Board room to witness the change of baton .
Appealing to the Officers and men of the Command to show more dedication to their jobs, he called for the ”support of all stakeholders in the tasks ahead”. Describe as a very” disciplined and gentleman” officer, the 54 year -old Comptroller is reputed to be very knowledgeable in ” Customs modernization procedures.
Given his background as a thorough bred Valuation Officer , he is expected to give a bite to the revenue generation of the Command. Having worked under Kajoli, one time Deputy Comptroller in-charge of Valuation atb the Command, who later became the Comptroller General of NCS, he is expected to bring his experience to bare in the revenue generation of the Command. H e is well at home with the tricks of agents to shortchange the government and could deal with ease by blocking all loopholes, an officer said. Insiders who spoke to the Magazine on condition of anonymity said he needd to put a close tab on on the officers and agents with the implementation of the Harmonized Systems , HS, Code, the document which gives out information about Commodities in the country’s fiscal policy and rates of duty . This is to ensure that agents did not abuse in making their self assessment with the support of their Customs Collaborators. Though, the NCIS ICT 2 has a system of checks and balances that it could reject any poor assessment of duty by agents, the sources insist that there is still ti watch the agents and officers closely because the ICT was developed by man and could be abused by man who are always lookingout for loopholes to do so and the Customs ICT could not be any difference.