Hadiza Ali Dies Of Years Of Undisclosed Sickness, Throws Customs Officers Into Mourning

By Stephen Ubanna

It was unexpected that Hadiza Jumai Ali, a 53 year-old wife of Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel, and Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, will die on Monday , October 29, 2019. This is because  there had never been any rumor from the rumor mills that she was sick and thus, receiving treatment in any of the known Hospital at Abuja.

Ali, the Customs Comptroller General , was said to have been going about his official duties without worry  of  having a sick wife to attend to  at home or in the hospital, fueling speculations that  all was well with him. Unknown to many  the Customs Comptroller General was undergoing pains but had refused to allow it show on his face or his work.

It would be recalled that on Monday October 21, 2018, he was at the Seme border as one of the advance team  of President Muhammadu Buhari, for the official  handing over  Ceremony of the European Union Commission, EUC,  multi-million naira built Seme-Krake joint border between Nigeria and Republic of Benin.

Prior to the handing over Ceremony on Tuesday, October 22, 2018, he was said to have  held a close-door meeting with some of his Area Comptrollers in the south  west.  Officers who saw the Comptroller General at Muhammed Uba Garba, the Seme Command Comptroller’s official residence said he was calm and talking sparingly. His usual jokes with journalists was missing.

He was said to have been escorted to the Ikeja  airport by  Adamu Aliyu Mohammed, Comptroller Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, to aboard the next available flight to Abuja to join his family on Tuesday, October 23, 2018.  Insiders told the Magazine that he may  have rushed back to Abuja to attend to  Hadiza, his sick wife. She was said to have been suffering an  undisclosed sickness for years. The source was told that Ali, the Customs Comptroller General, had taken her to different hospitals both within and outside the country for diagnosis and treatment but that was how far he could go.

Barely two weeks after  Buhari and Patrice Talon, his counterpart in Republic of Benin, performed the official  handing over Ceremony of the Seme-Krake  joint Border, Hadiza, who had been with him in his trying years of his military Career and who served as  a one- time Kaduna state First Lady, when Ali was  the state military Administrator  between 1996 and 1998, died on Monday, October 29, 2018. The  death of the 53 year -old Hadiza, may have thrown the Customs   Headquarters  into total confusion  as officers   who knew about her sickness but kept it a closely guarded secret  were forced to relocate to Ali’s residence .

Customs sources told the Magazine that when the information  about her  death was finally confirmed,  the Customs Headquarters was locked down  for operations on Monday, October 29, 2018.   Her death threw the officers and men at the Zonal and Area  Commands into mourning. This is evident going by the way most of the officers holding key positions in the Zonal and Area Commands, abandoned the treatment of important clearing documents on their tables to board the next available flight on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 Abuja  to  join their Colleagues at Ali’s residence in mourning the late Hadiza. . Most of the ineffective Area Comptrollers, who never had any opportunity  of facing the Customs Comptroller General , saw the  death of Hadiza, as opportunity  to see him face to face.  Some  Deputy and Assistant Comptrollers, who  were at  Abuja, from the Zonal and Area Commands  who were  at Ali’s  residence to give late Hadiza  a befitting burial , according to a source, were busy parading themselves  to be seen by  the bereaved and Mohammed Buhari, a Brigadier General  and his Principal Staff Officer, PSO.” It was a parade of sycophants”, an officer  remarked. Unknown to them, Ali and Buhari, the Brigadier General  may not have bothered  themselves about  the officers that show up at the  family house or the burial ground because of their military background .

The death of Hadiza, according to Joseph Attah , a Deputy Comptroller and the Customs National public Relations Officer was a ”big loss to Ali and the family. Hadiza, had been a major pillar in the Customs Comptroller General implementation of the Presidential  mandate for the reform , restructure and improving the revenue generation of the Services over the last three years.  Given her alleged support, Ali was said to have taken the Customs anti-smuggling  war to a new dimensions as trucks load of  foreign parboiled rice and  exotic vehicles had continued to be seized by the officers, particular, officers of the Operations and Lagos Roving team headed by Riks Lura, a Chief Superintendent of Customs, of FOU, Zone A, and the Strike Force team in Lagos.

A  visitor to Idiroko, Ogun state, between last Monday and  Tuesday, would be surprised that the officers at the  various  Customs Checkpoints along the Sango-Otta -Idiroko road decided to  put in their best to stop rice smugglers as a way of paying their last respect to Hadiza, the late Comptroller General’s wife. The officers , armed with long walking sticks , like traditional  herdsmen , were said to be using the sticks, as weapons to stop suspected vehicles instead of using their AK 47 to avoid accidental discharge.   There was a confirmed incident  where a tipper driver was said to have loaded  scores of 50Kg bags of rice on the  tipper but us white sand to cover it to give the impression that the tipper hired to deliver the sand  to a Customer at Otta. Acting on information , the tipper was said to have been intercepted and transferred and to the warehouse at Idiroko where the foreign parboiled rice was discovered. The officers were said to have also made one or two pickups load of scores of  50kg bags of rice on Tuesday, which were transferred to the Idiroko  Customs warehouse.

The Magazine learnt that the only time officers along the Sango -Otta -Idiroko road had made such spectacular seizures of rice, was  when information filters out that Agbara Ojobo Michael, Comptroller ,Ogun Command , would be visiting Idiroko.

There are over 83  illegal routes used by smugglers of foreign parboiled rice and exotic vehicles in Ogun State , alone.  Most of the unrepentant smugglers,  within the  Seme and Owode axis, were said to have relocated to Ogun to take advantage of the numerous illegal routes in the state to smuggle.   Their case was said to have been made worse at Seme axis, by  Muhammed, the former anti-smuggling Czar of FOU, Zone A,  and now the Comptroller  of Seme Command, who had tightened up the noose against the smugglers   that they have no escape route. This is because there is only one long stretch route , that is the Lagos- Seme route or the Creeks that could be used to smuggle Contrabands into the Nigeria  markets.

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