Apparently overwhelmed by the daring activities of smugglers and other criminal elements in its areas of operations, the Oyo/Osun Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has called for external help to enable it deliver on its mandate.
The command believes that it is only with external help it will be able to turn the table against the smugglers and other criminals operating within its areas of jurisdiction.
The situation in the command was said to be too bad as the DCG Enforcement and Investigation office at NCS Headquarters is inundated with reports of smugglers escapades in the Oyo/Osun Command. These reports were said to have prompted the Enforcement and Investigation boss to call the Customs Area Controller (CAC), Oyo/Osun, Comptroller Christopher Ogar Odibu to order.
Impeccable sources at the operational base of the command, Ibadan told Maritime Bits that the frequent calls on Odibu about the activities of smugglers in his area of jurisdiction despite the good number of his officers and men on ground is taking a toll on his health in recent times.
It is on record that the earliest time Odibu leaves the office daily was 8p.m as he makes it a point of duty to talk with the patrol leaders and give them new directives on how to go about their duties regularly.
Given the pressure from the Headquarters, he was said to have made it clear to the patrol team leaders that anyone who allows any contraband to be smuggled into the country through his area of control will face the music.
It was gathered that the CAC may have been in the bad book of his detractors because of his holistic approach to the NCS anti-smuggling campaign in his area of jurisdiction said to be notorious for the smuggling of contraband across the Nigerian borders.
It was also gathered that Odibu and his officers and men case was made worse by the frequent bursting of smuggler’s operations and seizures made in different parts of Oyo and Osun states. Reports of these exploits are regularly sent to the Comptroller General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ibrahim Ali (retired); the DCG, Enforcement and Investigation, DCG Dangaladima; and the CAC, Federal Operation’s Unit (FOU), Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos.
Odibu was said to have reached out to Fidelis Azinta, a Major General and the General Officer Commanding, GOC, the Second Mechanised Division, Ibadan and the Director of the Department of State Security, DSS, at the outskirts of Ibadan to seek for their support in the anti-smuggling war in the states on April5, 2018.
The CAC reported told the GOC and the Director of DSS, that the command would not hesitate to request for their assistance to clip the wings of the smugglers in some of the “no go areas” in the state because of the sophisticated weapons used by the smugglers.
Azinta was said to have assured Odibu of the Nigerian Army support at any point in time to bring the activities of smugglers in the state to a standstill. The DSS was also said to have promised their support in the area of information gathering and dissemination to the command about smugglers activities in the state.
This is good news to Odibu and his men who had looked forward to such a time when they could meet the leadership of the two security outfits in the state to seek for their support to curtail the activities of smugglers in both Oyo and Osun states.
Many have expressed hope that this new found working relationship between the Army, DSS and the Oyo/Osun Customs Command would go a long way to curtail the activities of smugglers in the two states.
Maritime Bits recalled that the CAC, FOU, Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos, Comptroller Garba Ubah led some senior officers from unit to pay a courtesy call on Azinta. The visit was said to have been informed by the seizure of eight trucks loaded with rice from the Ibadan axis and another three trucks loaded with about 1,200 bags of rice in Ogbomosho town, also in Oyo state.
Ubah’s visit was informed by the harassment of the officers who went on the operation at Ogbomosho. Aggrieved youths from the town were said to have blocked the road against the officers to forestall leaving the town with the impounded smuggled rice. They were said to have used stones, broken bottles and other dangerous weapons to throw at the officers to provoke them to shoot at the crowd but got it wrong.
It was learnt that the Army and Police officers at the scene were armed with rifles but could not come to the support of the embattled FOU, Zone A, operational officers fuelling speculation that they may have linked the attack to the NCS officers.