By Shola Fadeyi
Comptroller ‘Kayode Olusemire, Controller Customs FOU , Zone ‘C’, Owerri.
Indeed, the contributions of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) in the areas of revenue generation, anti smuggling and interpreting as well as implementing the Federal Government’s fiscal policies cannot be over- emphasized. The fact that the Service is considered as the second highest source of revenue generation, after oil, underscores its strategic importance to the economy.
In fact, the anti- smuggling duty of the Customs, beyond assisting to stop dangerous non- compliant goods or contraband from being imported into the country, and thus safe guarding the health and life of the citizenry, has also served as a veritable avenue, of ensuring that revenue that would have been lost are recovered, while insincere importers are forced to tow the part of the right duty payment on goods.
Despite various efforts of the Customs in combating smuggling , the fact that the Federal Government has to again closed its borders with Nigeria’s neighboring countries, has shown that smuggling is an hydra headed monster, which is an Herculean Task to curtail , particularly with the existence of hostile countries , which have been aiding the vice.
Thus, in spite of the vast nature of Nigeria’s borders, and in the face of inadequate logistics for the Customs to work with ,and the loss of personnel in the course of duty, the officers, particularly the ones in various Units of the Service among others who have enforcement responsibilities, have nevertheless ,continued to exhibit patriotism , as well as trudged on to ensure that smuggling is tamed.
One of such key anti smuggling organs of the Customs is the Federal Operations Unit , Zone ‘C ‘which is in charge of the towns, cities and borders in the Eastern part of Nigeria, and where Comptroller Olukayode Olusemire has been making waves , recording unusual and large scale seizures and instilling fears to smugglers for the past two years or thereabouts due to his capability .
The fact is that the story of Nigeria Customs Service anti-smuggling operations will be inconclusive without the mention of Comptroller Kayode Olusemire.Despite that he has been moving mountains in enforcement, Olusemire is also a wizard in revenue and tariff , a talent he has utilized in the PTML Customs Command, in Lagos among other areas, to safe government from losing revenue through classifications.
Olusemire who was deployed to Owerri, in August 2018 , was the Customs Area Controller of the Kaduna/Katsina Command; where he boosted its revenue generation through enforcement of compliance and robust anti smuggling which brought most of the smugglers to their kneels.
But just like in any group , association or institution , where the head or the leadership matters most , the Controllership of Olusemire at the FOU , Zone ‘C’ has indeed been remarkable , unique and of immense benefits to the Customs, the Federal Government and even the economy, in terms of revenue recovery , security to the nation and the well- being of the citizenry.
Revenue recovery/ Seizures
This is due to the unprecedented recovery of billions of naira that Comptroller Olusemire has led his personnel to achieve for the economy in terms of unpaid duty , the seizure of expired and contaminated goods, such as hundreds of thousands of bags of rice, Poultry products among others and the seizure of arms and ammunitions as well as security equipment and armoured vehicles.
For instance , his Unit generated a total of N591million as Duty Paid Value(DPV) on 22 seized vehicles, including eight bullet proof exotic cars and 1,901 bags of contraband rice, late last year, impounded 1,920 bags of 50 kgs of smuggled rice , drugs,used clothings among others , worth N492 million in October 2019, while between June and August , 2019, it seized 16 exotic cars , including an armoured land cruiser, rice and other illegal goods with DPV of N501 million.
The Unit also impounded N46m worth of two sets of home furniture, loaded in Volvo trucks in April last year, while in December 2019, it seized assorted brands of cars , used tyres among others, worth about N182 m in Duty.This is apart from the various seizures it made in 2018 .
The anti smuggling battle of Olusemire FOU, Zone ‘C’ has also been unique in the sense that it has mostly led to the arrest of culprits or suspects , in the form of smugglers , drivers of vehicles that were used to smuggle items among others and as such their prosecution so as to serve as deterrent to others.
Comptroller Olusemire’s successes, apart from his doggedness, vast experience from positions , he has occupied and assignments he has undertaken in the Customs, have however not been devoid of his virtue of hard work, adequate planning , collaboration with other security agencies , reliance on intelligence , information and the support of committed personnel
Relying on his ability to easily bond with people, he has also been able to create synergy and understanding with the Obis , Chiefs and other title holders, through his programme of enlightenment on the dangers of smuggling and used them as opinion leaders , in his Unit’s area of operations , as they have become supportive and reliable in the fight against smuggling.
It is however remarkable that much as the Controller loathes smugglers , whom he refers to as the enemies of the nation and economy saboteurs, he has nevertheless been very cautious of the virtue of trade facilitation in all the Unit’s activities, while , he has ensured that his Unit is faithful with constant sensitization of all the stakeholders in this direction.
He has also continued to appeal to Nigerians to be compliant in the payment of duties for their imported goods, whether they are luxuries , like exotic cars or those that fall in the essential basket of needs, while they should cease to import illegal goods or contraband , with an assurance that recalcitrant importers or smugglers would continue to be nabbed by the FOU, Zone ‘C’, under his watch.