Customs: Comptroller Musa Rides On Criticism

Shatters Revenue Ceilings

By Bayo Bernard

Comptroller JIbrin Musa of the Apapa Customs command is a very difficult man.  The first time you meet him, he will pointedly tell you he’s a very busy man and therefore has no time for frivolities. The officers of the command know him for his business like stand, the importers and agents too.  The question then is: why did Controller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd) chose to deploy the very obstinate Comptroller Musa to the nation’s premier port, Apapa, despite the perceived shortcomings?

An obvious answer to this nagging question came on Monday February 12 when Comptroller Musa disclosed to select journalists in Apapa that his command has shattered the revenue ceiling for the month ending January 2017. Obviously so.

The previous year 2017 was very difficult for the country due to economy recession which somehow slowed down import. As a result the command could barely generate over N26 billion into the coffers of the federal government. The figure was N9 billion short of the over N35 billion set for the command by the customs headquarters in Abuja.

365 days after the story has indeed changed for the command. With over N31 billion realized as revenue for the month of January 2018 , the command has moved an inch closer to realizing the 2018 annual target of N426 billion.

“I am glad to inform you that the command had taken off on a good note and hit the ground running,” and judging “ by the way we started, I believe God willing we will do everything the confines of law to meet and even surpass the 2018 annual target” Musa disclosed at the meeting, adding that despite the various challenges the command has upped the ante from last year’s figure. Indeed.

On his resumption of office two years ago the controller had somehow sent strong signals that the revenue collection of the command will not remain as his predecessor Willy Egbudin left it. ‘I will build on the record left by my predecessors” he must have told himself.

Comptroller Musa made this promise, inconsequential of other human factors necessary for him to deliver on his target of boosting the command’s revenue profile. For instance, agents and importers informed the magazine that the “controller has made his office too difficult to enter, because of the perception that you are not likely to get what you want with him.’

When the magazine sought to know what this means, some agents said the controller poses an incorruptible image to many of them. “You cannot just enter his office to lodge a complaint, except you are very sure the help you are asking for is legitimate,” agent said yesterday.

Every day the passage leading to the controller’s office in Apapa is dotted with all manner of persons waiting on the queue to have a word with him “ for one help or the other, but many of them will end up not seeing the big man, because they simply don’t know what to tell him” another importer said last week.

Just on Tuesday this week, the magazine ran into two businessmen, a Nigerian and Lebanese men who were confused on who between them should approach the controller for ‘ help’.

From all indications the two gentlemen have obviously hit a brick wall on how to get their container, which has been stuck in the rigorous customs clearance process released, the only way out, they must have agreed between them” is to approach the controller for help” the magazine heard one of them say.

They are not likely to have their way in such encounter with Controller Musa, one senior customs’ officer later told the magazine.

This position is somehow different from perception by some people that Comptroller Musa has been compromising his position since he was deployed to Apapa two years ago. Accusations made against him include using fronts to collect bribes from importers and agents for the purpose of releasing contraband or illegal cargo.

Recently, a national publication alleged that Comptroller Musa is among controllers in the country compromise their subordinates. The publication had alleged that junior officers were not been allowed to do their job. Some controllers, the report said “make phone calls or send notes to their subordinates to release cargos they are interested in.  One of the Comptrollers cited to be in this class was Jubbrin Musa, Comptroller Apapa port,” the report further said.

But figures don’t lie. During his new year press briefing in Lagos, the National Public Relations of NCS, Joseph Attah, a deputy controller of customs disclosed that the Service  has “recorded the highest revenue collection ever of N1,012,259,006,779.74 with five more working days to the end of 2017,” despite the economic recession within the period.

Out of this figure, the Apapa Command of the NCS generated the largest chunk of the revenue. This is the period Comptroller Musa presided over the command. You can then begin to draw your conclusion of the bulky controller, whether he has blocked all revenue leakages or not.

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