By Stephen Ubanna
Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has read the riot act to officers who abuse the social media to leak official information to the public. The warning was said to have been given to officers and men of the Service at their respective Commands as the Management embarks on the social media sensitisation programme nation-wide by Dangladimma, a Deputy Comptroller General, DCG, in-charge of Enforcement , Investigation and Inspection. ” Any officer caught leaking official document to the publice, via Social media would be dealt with according to laid down Customs rules and regulations”, the DCG, had said.
The Customs management, appear to have been embarrassed severally by reports in the social media about the Service and which had not been traced to any officer. Joseph Attah, a Deputy Comptroller and the Customs Spokesman says it has become very alarming that that the Management could no longer sit by and watch the situation degenerate. He cited an instance in which the social media platform, particular, Facebook, had been used to mischievous pictures about the Service, and the need to put officers and men of the service on guide. The Customs Public Relations Officer was said to have given an instance of an officer who died in active duties and the Family got to know about it through the Facebook and its implication to the service.
Perhaps, to contain the abuse of the Social media platform by officers and men of the Service to the disadvantage of the Service, he disclosed that the Dangladimma team had visited Apapa , Tincan-can Island, Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, and Seme Command to lunch the programme, which is expected to usher in a new era in the Service.
Given an insider information, the Customs spokesman explained that Dan-gladima, the DCG , represented the voice of the Management. He confirmed the engagement of an Army Colonel, from the Defense Headquarters Intelligence Unit, Abuja, who is a Cyber Crime and security expert as one of the resource persons used to pass the message across to the officers. He noted that officers have no reason to rush to the Social media to post information about the Service where there are official platforms to do so.
According to him, the only official platforms of the Service are: Face book and verified Twitter The Face book code, he revealed is www.facebook/customsng while the twitter code is twitter@CustomsNG. He assured officers that the pages are verified to talk to family members ,relations and friends to be careful scammers who might fake the service social media platforms to deceive the public. An angry Attah warned the public that the Customs award contracts, auction vehicles or overtime cargoes or give employment via socia mdia.
It would be recalled many Nigerian had fallen victims to scammers who had advitised Customs Contracts, auctions and employment through the social media. Many had been duped thousands and millions of naira.
Prior to Customs Management launching of the social media awareness for officers, the Management of the FOU, Zone A, may have known the pros and cons the social media platform that it had devised strategic measures to control it in the Command to avoid authorised pictures about the activities of the Command including arrest of VIP smugglers on the face book or whatsapp platform. Visitors to the Command including Journalists were made to drop their mobile phones with the Provost Marshalls at the gate and a tag given to them to be used in claiming it back. Muhammed Uba Garba , a former Comptroller of the Command and now Comptroller Seme Command was said to have implemented to the later. Adamu Aliyu Mohammed , his successorhas continued with the policy, which to a large extent had controlled information about the Command on the social media.
The Magazine learnt that there have been cases where officers have been detained in the Command for gross indiscipline which could make interesting news in the social media if it leaks out to the press but have been closely managed by the Management.
One major issue that may have exposed the Command to ridicule if the unauthorised picture had leaked was the drama at the Command warehouse between some Customs officers over the alleged directive for the destruction of cartons seized poultry products. There was total confusion at the warehouse as some officers allegedly loaded the cartons of poultry products into a van and forced their way out of the warehouse but were caught in the act. The intervention of Mohammed, the Command, through a phone call made to him by an unknown officer at the scene of the fracas saved the situation as the officers were detained. The matter was said to have been handled internally and never went beyond the Command premises.
Many believe that the Management could control the situation because of the strict monitoring of officers on the use of the social media platform.