“Be Your Brother’s Keeper”: Mohammed Increases Security Consciousness At FOU

By Stephen Ubanna

Adamu Aliyu Mohammed,  a former Comptroller , Seme Command, and now Comptroller Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A,  may have come with very  high hopes  of fostering  good working relationships between officers and men of the  Command in order  to translate to improved performance .

His ambition, according to a source, was to beat the  track records of Mohammed Uba Garba, a former  Comptrollers of the Command and who incidentally is the new Comptroller of Seme Command.  He however could beat his chest that  he was on the road of breaking records  when he detained  over a dozen  of exotic vehicles  and a seizure of  3000 bags of foreign parboiled rice of 50kg each in two weeks. The Customs Comptroller saw it as a good start in FOU, Zone A, Ikeja, and thus, promised to sustain the record.

In keeping with his promise, within the next two weeks, he showcased  another  25 exotic vehicles including nine  bullet proof jeeps which was  evacuated from a private residence in Victoria Island, Lagos but detained in the Command premises. The bullet   proof vehicles were said to have been  evacuated from the private residence  in Victoria Island acting  on information, forcing  officers  to describe him as a  ”man of his words”.  The Command also made a seizure of  11,000 of 50kg bags of foreign rice within  the  two weeks .

Many  had expected  the beehive of activities in the Command to continue to sustain the bi-weekly mouth watering  seizure of Contrabands and detention of  exotic vehicles to continue but he appears to leave  everybody in the dark. The first  and second two weeks of September had come and gone but nothing has been heard  from the Comptroller, who his aides claim had been too busy in the office. Perhaps, he may be tidying up his usual two weeks record of performance  to the Headquarters.  A visitor to the Command  premises   and the warehouses at Ikeja, last Thursday,  would be surprised  at the dearth of edetained  vehicles .

A source told the Magazine the Customs  Comptroller had evacuated the exotic vehicles including two bullet proof jeeps  detained at the instance  of the  Command Operations and Lagos Roving team   headed by Riks Lura,  a Chief Superintendent of Customs to the  available space at the back of the  Command office  Complex to pave  way for new arrivals. The source  disclosed that Lura may have assured him  of plans by his patrol officers on bush operations to transfer new intercepted  vehicles to the Command. By Tuesday, November November 6, 2018, the much of the available space in front of the Command office had been taken over by vehicles supposedly  arrested and transferred by  the Operation and Lagos Roving officers. Most of the vehicles were said to be very dirty showing that they were intercepted from smugglers in the bush. The  Command Strike Force officers were  also said to be making appreciable impact in the  Customs anti-smuggling war.

A school of thought believes that  Mohammed, the Customs Comptroller  is doing well which may have endeared him to Hammed Ali, a retired  Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, NCS. Their major worry, however, was the erratic nature of the FOU, Zone Customs boss.

They claimed that he may have learnt his lesson from  the treatment meted out to his predecessor, Mouhammed, who was petitioned against by  fifth Columnists in the Command, who would not want the right thing to be done but to impose their will on others, which if not done means the  person is  cutting corners.  The petition may have  forced Ali, the Comptroller  General to send a Headquarters  investigation  team to the Command to look at the Command records  over their detained vehicles  . The Comptroller was said to  have been absolved  and commended for his uprightness. Perhaps, to avoid playing into the hand of these  fifth Columnists who had abused his predecessor accommodating nature and human sympathy, he may have opted to be erratic in his actions  to scare people away from coming to him including Journalists. But  officers who knew from the Headdquarters, Kwarra/Niger and Seme Command confirmed that ”it was his nature”. They said officers and visitors to the Command are  lucky that he is gradually mellowing down to  relate with people.

As a prelude to  watching over the office Complex and the warehouses for security purposes, , he was said to have overhauled the Close Circuit Television, CCTV, in his office. Initially, he was said to have stationed  some  of the Command Task Force officers , armed to the teeth, at one  end of the Command office Complex to keep  vigil over the exotic vehicles transferred to the back of the office Complex building.

Compt. Aliyu Mohammed: Give Smugglers a Run For Their Money

The officers who were  said to be very harsh did not hesitate in shouting  at  agents who had come over  to the Command to sort  out their Container  problems , visitors or their Colleagues on mufti found  on the corridor  leading to the back of the building  to ”keep moving”  as  the Comptroller  is watching  over them ,through his CCTV”.

The Customs  Comptroller, according to  a source,  was very particular about the  security of  officers and men of the Command. He  fears that an aggrieved smuggler whose vehicle  was arrested  and transferred to the Command premises could trail officers of the patrol  team to Ikeja to lay ambush for them.

He was said to have to have told the patrol team officers  to be” their brother’s keeper”  to avoid to losing any officer to smugglers. The Comptroller may have put the officers on the red alert because of security reports  about plots by smugglers to kidnap officers    carrying out their legitimate duties.  The Comptroller ‘s advice may  have encouraged patrol team officers to be in group in their operations, and armed to the teeth. The era  where  a patrol team driver  could go out with an officer is over. It would be recalled  that  last year a driver attached to the then Lagos Roving headed by Jack Okpabi, a Chief Superintendent of Customs was    kidnapped by smugglers  at Sango Otta after an operation  and not been found.

Mohammed may not have allowed people’s impression  about  him  as he moves to sanitize the warehouses  where laborers harbored by the   Command were said to have been doing whatever they like over the years. Some of them  were said to be cronies  to officers  and  thieves on their own right.  There had been  several instances in the past where there had been  incidents  of stolen goods in the warehouse but no one was said to have been brought to book. Muhammed , the former Area Comptroller , was said to have started the process of cleaning up the warehouses  and putting it under firm  control by deploying more officers to  the warehouses  to be patrolling it  day and night to ensure adequate protection of detained vehicles and Containers.  Mohammed, the Current Comptroller , may have taken the last option of  asking the laborers to quit the warehouse and then reapply. He believes  if he needs the services of the laborers  he could  hire them for the particular job and pay  instead of allowing  them live in the warehouse which  exposes all the  detained  and seized smuggled goods in the warehouses to them.

He was said to have extended  quit order to the hawkers , vulcanizers, mechanics  and car washers   around  the Ayinde street .  He did not spare the woman who  was said to have been  provided a space to sell food by a former Comptroller of the Command  as part of the clean up exercise of the Command and its environs.

He was  said to have stationed  operational vehicles  along the Ayinde street to  ensure that the sacked intruders on  Customs land did not return. The Magazine sighted the food  seller under a tree  behind the Command office Complex, with traces of worry on her face .

The Command’s weekly meetings  where the Comptroller  meets  with the sectional Heads, Patrol and Surveillance Team leaders  as well as  the officers  in-charge of  checkpoints which ought to have been an avenue for  the Customs Comptroller  to listen patiently to the various patrol  leaders to know what they are going through in their respective teams and checkpoints  and how best to help them,  according to a senior officer who  spoke to The Magazine ,  has turned out to be a” blame game and  talk shop for the officers”.

The sectional Heads and Patrol team leaders were said to have  seen it as an  opportunity to outline their achievements , particular the  Patrol team leaders  who give records of their spectacular seizures, since that is what  the Comptroller wants to hear to win his heart..   It is not surprising why some of the team leaders always   get fully prepared with their records  before  the meetings  to answer questions  emanating  from the Management team.

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