How Mohammed Demolished The Shrine On Customs Land, Intercepts N1.2 billion Goods At FOU, In Two Weeks

By Stephen Ubanna

Aliyu Mohammed, a former Comptroller of Seme Command and now Comptroller, Federal Operations Unit, FOU,Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos,  appears  to have developed thick skin to rumours that he stands the risk of losing his life over the demolition of an established Shrine in a Customs parcel of Land at Seme, the border Community between Nigeria and Republic of Benin, a neighbouring country in the West African sub-region.

He was said to have stepped on powerful toes  and the Shrine Worshipers when he mobilised Caterpillars to clear the Customs land that  had been taken over the years by indigenes of the Community and other illegal occupants  and motorists, who use it as their motor park.

Unknown to the Comptroller, there was a Shrine at the Shrine  at the Customs land before he gave the people one month notice to vacate . The delay by the  illegal occupants in vacating the land may have given him the ammunition to order  the Contractor  to go ahead with the clearing of the Land  and eventual destruction of the  shrine.  the  JujU priest did not find the destruction of the Shrine funny and  was said to have sent it on errand, fueling speculations that  the then Seme Comptroller may not survive because of the alleged power of the deity.

Despite Customs take over of their land from the illegal occupants, the aggrieved juju priests were ready to let go of it but  fight  back to reclaim  the land  before  the Contractor engaged by the Command  mobilised his workers on site to start  the fencing .

As a prelude to reclaiming the land, a man was said to have been sited with a  Cow  on the cleared land making sacrifices intended to kill Mohammed, but got it wrong. As at the time of his redeployment to FOU, Zone A,  the fencing of the Customs land had reached  Lintel level. Moreso,  he was said to have left Seme Command stronger and healthier to his new posting. The man allegedly  involved with the Sacrifice with the intention to kill the Customs Comptroller, according to sources was hit by the arrow that  he had not recovered from it.

Only recently Mohammed was said to have received  a call from someone who may have been sent to confirm that he was still alive. Insiders disclosed that the man was shocked  to find  that nothing happened to the Kebbi born Comptroller despite  demolishing the Shrine  on the Customs land  and the sacrifices made on the land.

The boldness with which he operated at Seme Command without Compromise with the people  may have emboldened him to do the unexpected at FOU, Zone A,  which oversees the anti-smuggling operations in the six states in the south west  geo-political region:Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo to forestall the activities of smugglers.

But barely two weeks on the saddle as the Comptroller of the Command, he was said  to have seized goods worth N1.2 billion for the government  ranging  from Unprocessed wood, poultry products,  foreign parboiled rice , Used fridges to Used  second hand clothing.  This is in addition to the detention of six -exotic vehicles : Bently, Toyota Prado Jeep, Toyota High Lander , Lexus and two bullet proof jeeps.

Given an insider information ,  Mohammed disclosed that  the four  ”20” Containers of unprocessed wood,  which were intended for export through the seaport were intercepted along the road. It could not be ascertained whether the   exporter was taking the Consignment to Apapa or Tin-can Island port for the  deal.  Recent seizures of ”20” Containers load of  unprocessed wood shows that the Apapa port  was the base of the exporters, an indication that the exporter’s agent may  be heading to the port  because of insider connections. The value of the unprocessed wood export was put at about N24 million  and a Duty Paid Value , DPV,  os N24 million.   The export of unprocessed wood was said to have put a question  mark on the role of the officials of the Department of Forestry of the Federal Ministry of Environment overseeing the nation’s forestry.

Indeed, the historic  seizures, of the FOU, Zone A, under  Mohammed, in the last two weeks   include  40” Containers load of used  secondhand clothing and used fridges each  . Another ”40” Container  that was detained at the Command premises was said to have been based on information from the Customs Ruling Center at Apapa,   on the suspicision of carrying arms.

As at press time, the outcome of the examination  of the Container by Customs and other security agency personnel had not been made public. Mohammed, the Command Area Comptroller , was said to have given an order that all the  other agencies personnel who participated in the examination must  sign the Examination  report to make it authentic without objection.

An International Brewery Plc, truck used in Concealing foreign parboiled rice was also  intercepted by the Command. An elated Mohammed disclosed that , the Command had made a total of 3, 750  of ”50” bags of  Thailand parboiled rice since he resumed  two weeks ago, promising that the seizure would continue until smugglers are ready to do  the right thing.

Appealing to Nigerians to give useful information  to Customs officers to forestall rice smuggling into the the country,  the customs Comptroller insists that it is the only way to protect local rice farmers.  He confirmed that many of the local rice farmers are smiling to banks   because  Customs personnel are giving the rice smugglers  a fight that had forced  many of them out of the illegal business  in all nooks and crannies of the country.

The  exotic vehicles  intercepted by the Command Operations and Lagos Roving team  Headed by Riks Lura a Chief Superintendent of Customs andother patrol teams but detained at the Command premises  were  said to have  been the cynosure of people.  The vehicles , range from Lexus Jeep. Toyota Prado Jeep, Toyota High lander,2015 model, Toyota RaV 4, Betley to Bullet proof jeeps.

The lexus Jeep was said to have been intercepted in the bush while  the others  were cleared from the seaport without  paying the appropriate duty. The importers of the detained  vehicles, according to the Comptroller could only get it back with the provision of the relevant import documents. This is in addition to payment of  35 percent duty and 70 levey depending on the year and model. The owner of the bullet proof  vehicles , according to him would need to produce the End User Certificate  which could only be obtained from the office of the National Security Adviser, NSA to get it  released.

The  Comptroller was said to have made it clear to those that care to listen that those who could not   produce the relevant import documents  to take delivery of their vehicles  within  one week would forfeit it to government. True to his words, he was said to given approval  the seizure of the vehicles with the elapse of the one week on Friday September 7, 2018.The owner of the smuggled Lexus who had no option knew from the onset that he would lose the vehicle to the Command if caught on the act. This is because, the FG, had banned the importation of vehicles through the land border from January 1, 2017.

Given the Contraband seizures  and trucks gladden Containers  detained  at the Customs warehouse  including used vehicles which had not been cleared over the years, the Command , a source confirmed had been experiencing  space  constraint to accommodate additional  seizures. The space constraint may have forced Mohammed, the Area Comptroller to set up  a Committee to give him a report on the   situation of the warehouse , item by item, to see how to free the warehouse  to accommodate other  seizures.

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

Insiders told the Magazine that the  seizure that may have  fascinated the Customs Management team was the 80,000, of ”25”  Jerry Cans of petrol, equivalent  of 90 tankers load  ,worth over N50 million at Ijofin  Creek in Ipokia Local government Area of Ogun state recently. Mohammed , the Customs  Comptroller was  said to have been instrumental for the seizure of the product.

The Customs Comptroller   who took Joseph Atta, a Deputy Comptroller  and the Customs National Public Relations officer and his tam including other Journalists    to Western Marine Command, WMC, Apapa, to see some of the locally built boats  carrying the smuggled   Jerry  Cans of ”25” petrol at the Command waterfront said” there is  no hiding place for smugglers”.

Accompanied by Binga  Boyiliya, the  Area Comptroller and other key officials of the Command including Adamu Mohammed, the Command’s Deputy Comptroller, Enforcement, and  Journalists to the Waterfront  where the nine wooden  boats carrying the product  were forced to berth, the FOU, Zone A, Comptroller, explained that the  Jerry Cans of petrol were trans-loaded from  a bigger locally built  boat to the smaller  ones to facilitate the toeing to the WMC.

Binga, the Command Comptroller disclosed that the boats would be destroyed after  evacuation of the”25” Jerry Cans of petrol which would be sold to the public including uniform men .  The Aggrieved WMC Comptroller  disclosed that the Command  may not have been doing  much  in policing the  water ways  in the south west because of  lack of functional working Crafts.

He lamented  that the Command has  only one patrol Craft in the region.This is where Hammed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs  Service, NCS,  may  have to Keep to his promise of  re-equipping the Command with functional patrol boats to effectively patrol the water ways in the south west to be  able to forestall the activities of the smugglers.

A t present there  are indications  that the Command  many have  established a good working relationship with the  Navy and  the Marine police   to check mate the activities of the water ways  smugglers in the region. This  may be yielding results as the Command was said to have be making  substantial seizures in the recent time.

Going by what he saw on ground at FOU Zone A and the WMC, Attah, the National Customs PRO, told the Magazine, ” I feel a sense of pride that despite the mindset of detractors,  Customs officers are resolute to their responsibility in anti-smuggling and revenue generation”.  He disclosed  that for the first  time in  the history of Customs, the Service generated N140 billion in one  month. The amount was said to have been generated in the month of August, 2018. The amount, according to him  was the aggregate contribution of all the Customs formation across the country, including FOU, Zone A.

The Customs Public relations officer attributed the impressive revenue generation in the month of August to  the upgrade of the Customs Information System from NCIS 91 to NCIS 92  which had blocked areas of revenue leakage.He also attributed  it to the strategic deployment of  manpower to ensure  proper implementation of operational guidelines, TNCIS 92, according to him, is” faster and easier to operate to facilitate  the clearing process”

.  It would be recalled that a recent world Bank recent research report has ranked Nigeria as the  165th in the area of clearing  of goods at the seaports and land border areas  including the airport in the world. Reacting to the report, Attah described  it as not representing the true position of the clearing process in the country, stressing that the Nigeria Customs  had undergone major  reforms including automation of its operations to facilitate its Clearing process and keep to the government 24 hours clearing process under the present  management  headed by Ali, a retired , army Colonel.

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