ShareTweetEmail0sharesFEATURE STORY         Shola Fadeyi When the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service(NCS), Colonel Hameed Ali redeployed  Deputy Comptroller Usman... How DC Yahaya Has Been Hunting Down Smugglers, Making Seizures

FEATURE STORY

 

 

 

 

Shola Fadeyi

fou jerry 1When the Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service(NCS), Colonel Hameed Ali redeployed  Deputy Comptroller Usman Yahaya , as the Acting  Controller of the  Federal Operations Unit(FOU), Zone A,Ikeja, Lagos  By in January this year, it was part of measures  to  reposition  and enhance the efficiency of that Unit  of the Customs , particularly  in the realm of anti- smuggling , enforcement, revenue generation and  most importantly, trade facilitation.

Effectiveness

There is however no   gainsaying that the strategy of the CG  started to pay off, even much more  earlier, than expected,  with the spectacular    seizures of contraband  and recovery, by DC  Yahaya,  of  the Federal Government revenue, that would have been lost  to insincere importers  and smugglers , just one week when he assumed office.

The seizures have continued unabated, due to the effectiveness of the  new Controller and his team, despite the about   six weeks   lockdown that was  put in place by the Federal Government  in Lagos and those of the other States in the South West  where the FOU ‘A’ has its jurisdiction  as part of measures to check the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Anti-smuggling Czar

When his predecessor, Comptroller Aliyu Mohammed, was elevated based on his record, to a new assignment as the Acting Sector 4 Commander of Border Drill Operations code named Ex-Swift Response, the Customs headquarters was initially at a loss on who will succeed him, for the fact that it was out for  an anti- smuggling Czar , but  DC  Yahaya’s  record  fit into the plan.

Enforcement

This is because DC Yahaya  who  was the Coordinator of Strike Force, Zone ‘A’, with headquarters in Lagos,  before he was posted to FOU ‘A’, as the Acting Controller has always been known as  an enforcement guru  and an anti- smuggling ‘wizard’, judging by  his antecedents , particularly  before his present position , where has also continued to  show the stuff he’s  made of.

When  he was the Controller of the Strike Force Zone ‘A’ , a position he occupied  from  May , 2019  t o January 2020,  Yahaya  made the about six months  he spent on the saddle  to count , so much that  he impounded illegal goods  worth more than N7 billion in Duty Paid Value , thus driving so many smugglers into the trenches  and made it impossible for them to cheat government  and flout Nigeria’ s  fiscal policies.

Intimidating Record

Due to Yahaya’ s intimidating track record in the area  of anti- smuggling, little wonder that when he  assumed  office at FOU ‘A’,   smugglers and non-compliant traders became jittery , knowing full well that their days were over  that the Controller’s  crack  team will continue to hunt them down.

Those economic saboteurs can be said to indeed be right in their thinking, as Controller Yahaya within one week of  assuming the reins of office, that is between  January 7th -14th  2020,seized  contrabands  worth  N67,362,500.00  in duty paid value .In most cases, some officers would still be trying to study the situation , as they struggle to settle down to business, but  the  Controller jolted  all and sundry  with the seizures.

Seizures

The goods, he impounded  include  2,065 jerrycans of vegetable oil ,25liters each, 1,185 bags of 50kg foreign parboiled rice and 1500 jerrycans (25lts) of diesel , along different unapproved routes within the FOU ‘A’ area of operations ,which is , the cities, towns and villages  within  the South Western part of Nigeria.

However, the Acting Controller’s zeal , patriotism and unrelenting effort in the anti smuggling war  has continued to yield more result barely two weeks after the CG’s  working visit to Lagos, where he showcased various seizures made by FOU  worth over N10 Billion, as  DC Yahaya  again  intercepted   illegal goods worth N40,144,250.00 in DPV.

Seizures

The items include , 1,393 bags of smuggled foreign parboiled rice, 187 jerrycans/66 drums of foreign vegetable oil, 625 Cartons of poultry products and 50 jerrycans of foreign vegetable oil and were seized  from unapproved routes within Ogun State between 5th -17th February 2020, based on surveillance and routine patrol.

A breakdown of the value of the  seized items showed that the  rice  impounded was worth  N27,860,000., Veg. Oil, N6,284,250 and frozen poultry N6,000,000.

The rice, vegetable Oil and poultry products were conveyed in 12 different motor vehicles and also concealed in gas cylinders.In fact it is the  desperate act of  the dare devil smugglers, concealing edible items in a gas cylinder that has indeed justified the  hard chase by the  operatives of the  Customs.

Not relenting on the culture of haul of seizures, DC Yahaya’s men in April this year , when the lockdown was still on and hot,  intercepted and destroyed poultry products worth N20.6 million, which came in 2,154 cartons in seven different vehicles and in two separate operations within one week.

According to the  Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the  FOU ‘A’, Jerry Attah’ the seizure of poultry products during the lockdown has  lent credence to the fact that  the eagle eyed  officers of the Unit were on a round the clock patrols ,while keeping to safe distance rules in line with COVID-19 prevention techniques.

This is why Yahaya  had said then ,that the seizures , made within a week is a strong message to smugglers and trans border criminals that the FOU ‘A’  is always  on duty and will continue to surprise smugglers with seizures and arrests any time it is dared.

Experience

Without mincing word , it is of course the series of experience which the Ag Controller has garnered over the years in his  enforcement drive, his tenacity of purpose, the uncanny ability to make use of intelligence to achieve results  and the unalloyed support  of the Headquarters at Abuja in terms  of logistics that have  combined to make him to continue to deliver on his mandate.

Nevertheless , he has called  on all members of the  general public, including the media  to support the fight against smuggling, by providing necessary intelligence that could assist the service in reducing smuggling to its barest minimum.

Compliance

However, despite his achievements within the short period of time, he became the Ag. Controller, he still undaunted. This is why he has   warned that unless the economic saboteurs repent from their unscrupulous activities, they would continue to count their losses. He has also  advised legitimate traders to be compliant in their declarations ,as the Unit was ever ready to facilitate their trade in line with world best practices.

 

 

 

 

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