FOU: Officers Pledge Loyalty To Comptroller Mohammed

By Spehen Ubanna

Officers and men of  the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja,   had pledged their loyalty  to Mohammed Aliyu,  a former Comptroller, Seme Command and now Comptroller of the Command.  The officers and men of the Command  made the pledge amidst appeals by the Muhammed Uba Garba, a former Comptroller of the Command , now redeployed to Seme Command   in the recent shake up in the Service that affected 70 Comptrollers. Appealing to the officers to extend the same level of Cooperation  given to him  in his one year and two months  at the  helm of affairs at the Command, he said it is the only  sure way to enable  him to succeed in the Command anti-smuggling war.

The Customs Comptroller advised the officers to be open  to their new boss, described as being” very transparent”  to enjoy his support, .  He was said to have told Mohammed, the FOU, Zone A, Comptroller that the standard of anti-smuggling operations at the Command had been raised very high and must not be allowed to go down.  Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller , Nigeria Customs Service was said to have given the Command four commendation letters under Muhammed , the former Area Comptroller.

The Customs Comptroller who had mobilised his management team   had welcome the FOU, Zone A, new Customs boss to the premises  by  showing  him some of the seizures made by the Command on  Friday, August 17, 2018. The seizures include a 738 kg of pangolin  scales  valued at about N158. 08 million, with a Duty Paid Value of , DPV, of N175.7 billion.

The pangolin seizure shown to him was  said to be the fifth to be made by  Sule Mutalib  an Assistant Comptroller and head of the Command warehouse  operation team  between last year and now.  Usman Jibrin, the minister of Environment, accompanied by Juan Carlous, Legal Adviser of the Geneva, Switzerland based   Convention on International Trade  on endangered Species , CITES, of wild flora, was said to have been impressed  with the pangolin seizures  when he saw it at the Command warehouse last May .   An elated Jibrin  had urged the Customs Comptroller  and his officers  not  to relent in smoking out the pangolin  dealers because of its contravention of the CITES policy which  prohibits the export of pangolin scales and elephant tusks.

As a prelude to his exit from the Command to Seme, his new base he  had given commendation letters to four outstanding  officers  for their  contribution  to spectacular seizures in the Command.  One of them was Muttalib,  who was recognised for his pangolin  scale and elephant tusks seizures with his team.  Riks Lura, a Chief Superintendent of Customs and the Command head of Operations and Lagos Roving team was also given a commendation letter for his contribution to anti-smuggling operations in the Command, particular interception of such dangerous drugs as tramadol and Codein Cough syrups which had been banned by the Federal government  from  being imported into the country .

Officers who spoke to the Magazine disclosed that by singling out the four senior officers for commendation  in the presence of the new Comptroller of the Command, would  have warmed them into his heart and othersseen as not being hard working.  They noted that giving  Commendation letter to the four officers  would polarise the Command and dampen the enthusiasm of the officers  except Mohammed moves in fast to douse the tension  created by it and reassure the officers of  providing a level playing field for all the patrol  and Surveillance teams  including the Checkpoints officers to excel.

Eyewitness account disclosed  that at  the Command Board room, where Muhammed,  the former Comptroller of the Command   had  handed over a prepared handover document  to his successor, he  had vacated his official Seat for him to take over  the proceedings of the day.

He was said to have also handed over  the Comptroller’s official ceremonial barrette  to him and collected his own in return. The officers  and Journalists who spoke had poured encomiums  on the duo  for their outstanding performance in their respective Commands. It would be recalled that  Ali had visited the Command  more than any other  Customs  Comptroller General  to see for himself the  spectacular seizures made, particular, exotic vehicles instead of waiting for reports on such seizures.

mohammed may have put a smile on the face of the officers when he vowed  to defend those  who  do not compromise their position but  do the right thing. ”I am simple  but would not entertain gossips”, he had declared. This is a warning to sycophants to be careful .

Comptroller Mohammed Aliyu: Takes Over At FOU, Zone A.

He further said  that though he would run an open office, any officer who do no not have  any official matter to discuss with him have no basis  coming to see him”.  The former Seme Customs Comptroller  also have  a word of advice for  his predecessor now at Seme Command: please don’t Compromise. Stand firm in your actions to earn your respect”.

Describing  Seme as a smaller Command   compared to FOU, Zone A, which jurisdiction covers  the 16 Customs formation in the south west geo-political region, says it is mighty, as   all eyes in the Abidjan corridor  in the West African sub-region are on  it as the busiest  border in the region. This is because of the volume cargoes that pass through it yearly.

Perhaps,  one project dear to Mohammed’s heart which he was said to have pleaded with  Muhammed, his successor  to show interest  and complete  was the perimeter fencing of the Customs land  at Seme which  had  reached advanced stage of completion.

But those who knew the new Seme Customs Comptroller said there is nothing  the kebbi state born Comptroller of FOU, Zone A, Command, would request from his colleague to do  that  would not done even at his own inconvenience  because of their close relationship.

They are optimistic that Muhammed  would complete the project as requested by his colleague.  The duo were said to have retired to the Comptroller’s office for a close -door meeting after officially taking over from his predecessor.

As a prelude to the change of baton at FOU, Zone A, Mohammed , his successor, had handed over  the reins of power  to him at Seme  Command on Thursday, August 16, 2018, under the full glare of other security agencies personnel at the land border. A  police officer who spoke to  the Magazine said if it was possible to  stop his redeployment to FOU, Zone A, Ikeja, they could have done it because ,” he was very good”.

The Magazine learnt that there was an incident on the day of the handover at Seme Command over a dead body  on the road which was brought to the attention of the former Comptroller but he tactfully shifted the case to his successor to take action on it. Muhammed was said to have declined to do so, ,insisting that  since the former Comptroller was still around, he must not shift the responsibility to him. It could not be  ascertained who eventually  solved the  problem.

Not bothered  by such an ugly incident, the  former anti-smuggling Czar of FOU, Zone A, has said to have  sent a warning signals  to smugglers in the Seme axis to turn a new leaf or be ready to face the wrath of the Law . He was said to have also warned importers with their agents who indulge in fraudulent  activities with their Customs collaborators  to shortchange the government to change or be exposed  as the revenue target set for the Command  must be met.

Many believe that one thing that could work in favour of the new Seme Customs boss was his understanding of French,an international language, spoken in Republic of Benin and other countries in  in the sun-region. Moreso, he may not be treated as a new person to the  country’s Ambassador to Republic of Benin, as the duo, both the former and the incumbent Comptroller , at the invitation of the Ambassador were  at the  Embassy last year to rub mind with him.

The close rapour between officials of the Seme Customs  Command  and officials of the Embassy speaks volume.  This evident at a recent meeting chaired by the Ambasador at Cotonu, Capital of Republic of Benin. The Ambassador was said to have  asked the former Seme Comptroller to stand in for  him as chairman of the  meeting when he stepped out. The  Beninese officials at the meeting never protested as they followed the proceedings to the end  .  Maritime analysts see it as a good starting point for Muhammed, the new Seme Customs boss.


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