By Stephen Ubanna
For years , there had been rumours making the rounds of the use of partitioned trucks by smugglers to carry out their nefarious trade through the land border routes. The situation was so bad with the use of branded vehicles loaded with dutiable goods to conceal prohibited goods such as rice.
Mohammed Ali, Comptroller , Seme Command may have opened the eyes of the Comptroller Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Mohammed Uba Garba,to beam his search light on the land border Areas with the south west geo-political Zone.
A s a prelude to giving a bite to Command anti-smuggling war, Muhammed was said to have reshovelled his operational team a fortnight ago. The arrow head of the Command Lagos Roving team was moved to the Rapid Response team, which gave him the opportunity to patrol the entire so states in the south west : Ogun, Lagos, Ondo Oyo, Osun and Ekiti.
Mohammed was said to have replaced him with Riks Lura, a Chief Superintendent of Customs, who was formerlly a Surveillance team leader at Idiroko axis in Ogun state. Within one week of being on the sadle as the officer in-charge of the Command Roving team, Riks apears, to be changing the line of seizures of the Command from intercepted Containers at the seaports to the sophisticated tools used by smugglers
The Magazine learnt within one week of mounting the saddle the Command Lagos Roving intercepted a truck a truck suspected to be carrying contraband within Shop Rite axis at Sango Otta. The truck was found to have been partitioned by using dutiable goods to Conceal about 190 bags of ”50” kg foreign parboiled rice. The interception of the partitioned truck by the team may have forced Muhammed to boost that whatever method employed by the smugglers to carry out their nefarious trade would be puncture, noting that the Command was far ahead of them.
A truck intercepted by the team was said to have carried about 680 heavy duty vehicle tyres but concealed inside the truck was an additional 158 bags of rice. This is in addition to an alleged Nigeria Breweries Plc truck carrying 170 bags of rice but used its crates to conceal it. The seizure of the Nigeria Breweries, Dangote and other Corporate Organisations truck to smuggle rice and prohibited goods into the country may have informed why the FOU, Zone A, Comptroller had warned Companies engaging the services of drivers to look at the reliability and integrity of the person before going ahead to employ him. The Command was said to have an investigation team to ascertain the culpability of the Organisations which trucks are been detained in the Command for carrying smuggled goods. The Comptroller was said to have made it clear to all that care to listen that if any of the Organisations found wanting would lose their trucks to the g government.
A visitor to the Command mechanical workshop turned warehouse would be surprised at the number of exotic vehicles and branded trucks detained. Muhammed, the Comptroller confirmed that the Command detained over 30 exotic vehicles between April 10 and May 10, 2018. Riks led Lagos Roving team was said to have intercepted three Toyota Prado Jeep along the Lagos-Ibada Expressway and three Toyota Hilux van , along Ijebu Ode axis . The vehicles were said to be 2017 model. Prior to breaking into the ranks of smugglers in the Idiroko axis based on credible information, the team was said to have seized two Containers with no: MSKU130295/2 and MRKU8777140/1, over alleged false declaration. The two Containers, according to the Customs boss carried goods with a duty paid value, DPV,. of about N25 million.
He disclosed 14 persons were arrested in connection with the 125 seizures made by the Command within the period. Given an insider information, e confirmed that the Command in the last one month intercepted Contrabands with a DPV of N1.01 billion. the Command, he also said recovered for the government N 1.04 billion. This is money that could have entered into private accounts without the vigilance of the officer s of the Command patrol teams.
It is not surprising why Muhammed could boast that his men up to their responsibility in suppression of smuggling , blocking all areas of revenue leakage and enhancing trade facilitation thus sustaining best International standars.