Hameed Ali , Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service matches his words with action by promoting officers involved in the 2017 arms seizure in Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Ikeja
By Stephen Ubanna
When Mahmud Haruna, a former Comptroller Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja,disclosed that Hameed Ali, a retired Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigeria Customss Service, NCS, has given his word to reward officers who make spectacular seizures or save revenue for the government. Not many officers were enthusiastic about the disclosure.
This is because of the attitude of Ali, to the officers from the onset which was very discouraging. He had come with a mindset that there is nothing good in Customs , describing the officers as being very Corrupt. His alter ago, president Muhammadu Buhari , had a similar mind set .
It is not surprising why he mandated him to go ahead restructure and reform the Service as well as improve government revenue generation from the non oil sector. As a prelude to the Presidential mandate, Ali read the riot act to officers that anyone found to have compromised on his job would be prosecuted and jailed.
Many believed that he injected fears into the officers to the do their work without compromise. The situation was so bad that contrabands were entering into the country from the ports and inappropriate routes. When it became clear to him that he would not make a head way in the Presidential mandate given to him to restructure and reform the Customs without carrying every officer along instead of using military force, he changed his style of administration.
He was said to have mobilized the management team and area Comptrollers to reach out to their officers sit up to ensure that the government derive the maximum benefit in non-oil imports and exports including fighting smugglers to a stand sill to avoid turning the country into a dumping ground. he gave his word to support the officers to do their work.
His wrong opinion about the Customs changed when he began to receive reports about seizures made by officers in spite of the poor welfare services and harsh working condition. He was thrilled by the arms seizure made by the Roving team of the FOU, Zone, that he gave his words to reward the officers involved in the seizure. It turned out to be a waiting game when nothing was heard about it again after Haruna was deployed the Headquarters. The arms had been handed over to Mamman Duara, led Department of State Security, DSS, by Haruna, by the FOU, Zone A, Customs boss at the instance of Ali, who could not hide his joy on March 10, 2017, which coincided with the day Buharri returned from his medical vacation in the United Kingdom.
But signs that the Comptroller General has a good plan for the officers emerged when Harunah, the then Comptroller of the Command was promoted on the eve of his departure to the Headquarters to the enviable rank of an acting Assistant Comptroller General. He became the first beneficiary of the arms seizure.
It was learnt that as an acting Assistant Comptroller General, he never relented in his efforts to see that Adamu Muhammed, an Assistant Comptroller and officer in-charge of the roving team , Seriki Abdullahi, a Superintendent and other officers involved in the interception of the truck carrying the ”40” Container loaded with 66 pieces of pump action were promoted as a way to encourage other anti-smuggling officers to do their work without compromise.
haruna, the acting Assistant Comptroller General was said to have been further encouraged to push for the elevation of the officers because of the speed at which they followed up in the arrest of the importer and the officers involved in the release and exit of the Container load of arms at Apapa, the premier port.
As the then Comptroller of the Command, he was very happy when Mohammed handed over Osca Okafor, the arms importer to him. Sources told the Magazine that Osca had prepared to escape when information leaked out that the deal has been exposed before Mohammed’s men swooped on him. Mahmud Hassan and Sadique Mustapha, who were escorting the truck load with the arms to its northern destination had been arrested and detained. Officers who were involved in the clearance of the Container were also arrested by Mohammed and detained on the orders of Haruna, the then Customs boss of the Command.
Until Mohammed and the officers who worked in the roving team that made the arms seizure were redeployed to other Commands, they had lost hope that they will never be compensated. When all hopes appear to have been lost about the compensation of the officers, information leaked out the names of the officers who made the arms seizure have been submitted to the Management for special promotion. They got it. Mohammed, was promoted to the rank of a Deputy Comptroller. Abdllahi, who was instrumental to the arrest of the suspects was moved to the enviable rank of a Chief Superintendent of Customs among others. The special promotion has given hope to the officers to strive to make spectacular seizures or revenue for the government.
It would be recalled that Abdullahi Dikko, former Comptroller General, NCS, gave a similar special promotion to the then Abdullahi Kerewa for intercepting a ship load of rice which was loaded into trucks and transferred into the Customs warehouse, IKeja. A n elated Kerewa was rewarded with the rank of Assistant Comptroller.
Mohammed Garba, the current Comptroller of the FOU, Zone A and his men in the roving team working towards beating the record of his predecessors in the Command. The arrow head of the roving team, Charles Ogabi Jack, a Chief Superintendent with the backing of Dauda Ashigye, a Deputy Comptroller has saved the country billions of naira with the interception of trucks loaded with various goods from the sea ports. This is in addition to the interception of assorted vehicles allegedly smuggled into the country through illegal routes.
Many believe that Ashighye and his roving team have proved that they can block revenue leakages in other Commands and reduce smuggling to the barest minimum if given the incentives and logistics support. He was deployed from Enugu Command to the FOU, Zone A, with a mandate to stop revenue leakages at the ports and check mate the activities of smugglers in the south west geo-political region.
Insiders told the magazine that he is on the neck of Jack, the officer in-charge of the roving team who furnish him daily with the number of trucks loaded with Containers of various goods either ”20” or ”40” impoundedfor briefing of Garba, the Comptroller.
There are indications that with the spectacular seizures and revenue saved the government within the short period that Garba and the present managemnt of FOU, Zone A, came on board and the resuscitation of the roving team and establishment of a crack team,many officers of the Command would get the Comptroller General’s special promotion soon. Already , officers in the roving and the Comptroller General’s Compliance team are competing among themselves to make seizures and save revenue for the government.