The management of the Nigeria Customs Service has placed 14 officers from Adamawa command under in-house investigation over their alleged involvement in the smuggling of petroleum products along Nigerian borders with Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
The officers, who had since left their duty post in Adamawa to Abuja, are expected to face a panel of inquiry by the Customs Police Unit(CPU) at the Customs headquarters Tuesday, June 13th, 2023.
In a Circular with Reference No: NCS/CPU/HQ/VOL. 10/No74 dated June 8, 2023, titled: Invitation To Report At Customs Police Headquarters and signed by B. S. Sani, a Deputy Comptroller of Customs, the affected officers were ordered to report as directed.
The Circular reads ”Sequel to ongoing investigation directed by the CGC, the under listed officers are requested to report at the CPU Headquarters on the 13th of June, 2023 by 11.00 Hrs unfailingly”.
Among the officers mainly from the Adamawa State Customs Command, are Chief Superintendent of Customs (CSC) G. Almu with Service Number (SN) 43223; Deputy Superintendent of Customs (DSC) G. I. Kadiri with SN 54247; Assistant Superintendent of Customs (ASC 1) U. T. Abdulhamid with SN 38421; ASC1 H. O. Ibraheem with SN 43599 and ASC1 A. I. Hassan with SN 50475
Others are ASC II S. Magaji with SN 53017; ASC II I. Bashir with SN 53750; Inspector of Customs (I C) (OPS) A. Jalo with SN 47071; Assistant Inspector of Customs (AIC) H. Usman with SN 45755; AIC V. P. Igbo with SN 46207; AIC G. M. Ikpene with SN 46621; AIC S. Garba with SN 45919; AIC F. Nwumfe with SN 53535 and Assistant Inspector (CAI) (T) A. Ismaila.
Our reporter gathered that the identification of the officers linked with the wanton smuggling of petrol tankers across the border may not be unconnected with the viral video posted by one Owombo Segun John, a Superintendent of Customs, who exposed the smuggling ring among the Customs officers at the Adamawa state Command.
SC Owombo, in the viral video in November 2022, has openly described how he arrested some tankers laden with refined petroleum products being smuggled across the Nigerian borders at the Malabo checkpoint on Belel Road, Adamawa state on November 2nd, 2022 into the neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic.
He has also alleged official collaboration with the smugglers and intimidation in an attempt to cover up through threats to his life.
Since the officer busted the smuggling ring, he has been branded as having an ‘unstable mind’ by the top hierarchy of the Customs which has arrested and kept in him in an open detention at the Customs headquarters since November 2022.
The National Public Relations Officer of the Customs, Abdulahi Maiwada, confirmed that the officers are under investigation but said he was not aware of what the investigation is all about since the internal memo on the matter did not state the nature of the investigation
”There is an investigation of officers on a particular issue but the issue was not disclosed in the memo. The memo is an internal document that was meant for internal consumption but was leaked.
”So it will be wrong and unprofessional of me to comment on the matter in order not to jeopardise the process of the investigation.
The public will be adequately briefed after the investigation is concluded” the Customs spokesman said.
Meanwhile, the whistle-blower, SC Owombo, has continued to languish in open detention seven months after his arrest over his expose of the smuggling ring.
In a new leaked audio, the detained officer complained of the neglect and dehumanisation as he has continued to be kept in detention for what he described as his patriotic act in exposing the smuggling ring.
He reiterated his conviction of the existence of the syndicate which he believed is outside the Customs Service but has collaborators within the service.
He said he was ready to die for the truth and did not have any regret in exposing the economic saboteurs.
Since his assumption of office, and with the removal of government subsidy on petrol, President Tinubu had vowed to deal with the problem of petrol smuggling to neiboughring countries of Chad, Niger, Benin Republic and Cameroon, among others, insisting that Nigeria cannot continue to be Father Christmas.
on June 9th, 2023, while responding to issues raised by prominent traditional rulers on challenges facing the country when they visited him in his office, the President assured them, saying ‘‘worry not because the country is in good hands,” adding that his administration was very conscious of the expectations of Nigerians.
On the decision to remove fuel subsidy, for which various speakers at the meeting expressed support, the President appealed to the Royal Fathers to persuade Nigerians to have faith and that the pump prices of fuel will eventually come down.
‘‘I am grateful that you are paying attention to what I have been doing. You have paid attention to the subsidy removal. Why should we in good heart and sense, feed smugglers and be Father Christmas to neighbouring countries, even though they say not every day is Christmas?”
‘‘The elephant that was going to bring Nigeria to its knees is the subsidy. A country that cannot pay salaries and we say we have potential to encourage ourselves. I think we did the right thing,’’ he said.
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