Detained Vehicles, Rice

Smuggled Rice Long Way To Release By the Police

By Stephen Ubanna

Barely two weeks after the Dente Divisional Police Station at  Oyigbo, in Lagos  Mainland of the Lagos state Police Command intercepted and detained nine vehicles loaded with smuggled par boiled foreign rice, it is still holding on to it despite entreaties by the Customs to release it to the appropriate Customs formation that is entitled to be in Custody of it  .

The  Customs Authorities may have reached out  to Ibrahim Idris, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, who was said to have ordered that the nine vehicles load of rice be handed over to the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja which is in the appropriate Customs Formation  to handle  the matter.

Muhammed Uba Garba: Customs Comptroller, FOU, Zone A
Muhammed Uba Garba: Customs Comptroller, FOU, Zone A

The IGP was said to have directed Ibrahim Adamu,  the Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, incharge of Zone 2 Police Command to liaise with Edgar Iohimi  the Lagos state Commissioner of Police to facilitate the release   of the detained  nine vehicles  with its contents  in the Dente Police Station with its contents to Customs.

It was gathered that Muhammed Uba Garba, the Comptroller of FOU, Zone, may have been  forced to report the incident to Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General, NCS, who reached out to the IGP, when all efforts to reach a truce with the State Police Commissioner failed.

The alleged  intervention of Idris, the IGP was said to have forced Adamu, the AIG, inZone 2, Police Command,  to allegedly write Garba, the Comptroller of FOU, Zone A, with a promise  to release the detained vehicles loaded with  smuggled rice to the Command as directed by the IGP.

Garba was optimistic that the AIG would  keep to his promise of releasing the vehicles and its contents  to the Command as promised. But as at press time , the Dente Police Station was still holding on to the nine detained vehicles and its smuggled  rice contents. When the Magazine visited the station, last Monday, the nine vehicles were still parked in the premises .

A source told the Magazine that the police has made it clear to those that care to listen that it can only  release the detained nine vehicles loaded with smuggled rice after inspections of the  Customs warehouse facilities  to ensure that the items would be safe.

The question on the lips of most people was :why the police are  still delaying  the release of the items to Customs if they have no skeleton on their cupboard?  They criticized the Lagos Zone 2, Police Command insistence of coming to inspect  the Customs warehouse facilities before handing over the  items to .The Customs, they claimed , are the only government agency saddled with the responsibility to intercept and seize smuggled goods found in the country. Moreso, the Customs and Excise Management Act, CEMA, Cap 2004, gave the agency powers to do Police job but the Police Law never gave it powers to do Customs job.

Eye witness account told the Magazine that there was no basis for the Police to have been involved in the rice matter if there was no conspiracy. The source  disclosed that the FOU, Zone A, Lagos Roving team, headed by Okpabi Jack, a Chief Superintendent of Customs and his officers  had followed up the matter  acting on information until the smuggler left Cotonou port, the Republic of Benin enroute to Nigeria  through an illegal route in Idiroko land border station  on Saturday , March 3, 2018.

The source confirmed that Jack had placed his  officers at strategic positions between Idiroko and Lagos, noting that the suspected nine vehicles loaded with the smuggled rice could have fallen into the waiting hands of  Customs Operatives but it fell into the waiting hand of the Police team, which allegedly claimed to be an IGP Monitory team. The Magazine was informed that the Customs had  a video clip of the vehicles.

A security expert who spoke to the Magazine on condition of  anonymity   lambasted the police for delving into an area solely meant for the Customs to handle alone.  Appealing to the Police to make haste to release the detained nine vehicles loaded with smuggled rice in the interest of peace and good working relationship with the sister agency.

The aggrieve security expert posits that Police continuous holding -on of the nine vehicles loaded with smuggled rice may not be in the overall interest of  the Internally Displaced People, IDPin the camps in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno,and  Yobe including those in the IDP  camp in Edo state, in the south south geopolitical  region. this is because the discplaced people are yearning to be fed  from well meaning Organization as the government lean budgetary allocation to the IDPs had failed to meet their need due to contending demands.

It would be recalled that since the January 1,  2016, Presidential directive  to the NCS to donate  all the seized perishable items including foreign parboiled rice, the Customs alone had  donated  252,666 bags of 50Kg, which were carried to the IDP camps with about 420 trailers, with each carrying 600 bags.

Investigation by the Magazine shows that much of the rice seizures donated to the IDP camps  may have comec from FOU, Zone A, Ikeja , Lagos, going by the number of trucks that line up then to load the Court  condemned rice to these Camps.  Only recently, in one operation in Shaky  alone, the Command Lagos Roving team was said to have intercepted eight trucks load of smuggled rice.

There are indications  that with the quantity of seized smuggled rice in its Ikeja warehouse facity, the Nigeria Army Corps of Supply and Transport saddled with the responsibility to carry the  Customs seized smuggled rice to the IDPs already had much to load from the FOU, Zone A, Customs Formation  alone if the given the nod by Ali, the Comptroller General to resume.

It is not surprising why Nigerians from all walks of life had joined the Customs Authorities to plead with Adamu, the AIG, Zone 2, Police Command and Imohimi, the Lagos state Commissioner of Police to release the detained nine vehicles  loaded with the smuggled rice to  Customs for peace to reign.

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