Dikko Abdullahi’s tumultuous reign

From the very beginning of his tenure as the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service on 18th August 2014, Dikko Inde Abdullahi was confronted with series of crises and allegations.

First, his appointment by late President Umaru Yar’Adua was largely criticized by a section of the media. Former First Lady Turai Yar’Adua was believed to have influenced the appointment even as the late President was accused of appointing a relative to head the NCS. Dikko is married to Turai’s relative and is also a distant cousin of Yar’adua from Musawa Local Government Area of Katsina State.

Before the dust over his controversial appointment could settle, Lagos lawyer, Festus Keyamo publicly accused the new Customs boss of certificate forgery.

Acting on behalf of one Olajide Oyewole Ibrahim, Keyamo asked the Yar’Adua government to investigate the allegation against Abdullahi but when the request was not honoured, he proceeded to file a suit at the Lagos High Court asking the court to compel the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to initiate criminal proceedings against Abdullahi

Keyamo had asked the DPP to investigate the alleged falsification of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and Nigeria Institute of Management (NIM) certificates by the Customs Comptroller-General.

However, in her ruling on the matter, Justice Yetunde Idowu said Keyamo’s application was premature and incompetent. The matter somehow fizzled out without a definite closure.

About a year after, another trouble loomed for the Customs Comptroller-General when a businessman, Omelu Charles Chinweuba accused Abdullahi of alleged fraud.

In a petition to then President Goodluck Jonathan, dated August 30, 2010, Chinweuba said through his lawyer, again Festus Keyamo, that Dikko’s proxy received approximately N7 million from him purportedly as payment for abandoned containers the Customs was about to auction.

According to the petition, a lawyer to Dikko, Barrister Amobi Nzelu, visited Chinweuba in his office in the Wuse District of Abuja in February and claimed to be acting on behalf of the Customs’ boss. Nzelu, a controversial figure, who was engaged in the fraudulent court judgment by Dan Abutu that legitimized Musa Yar’adua’s prolonged absence from the country, was known to be a close ally of Dikko. He represented Dikko in fighting Keyamo over the certificate forgery scandal.

Series of other serious allegations dogged Dikko’s path with the most recent being a petition sent to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) by a group which called itself Nigerian Customs Transparency Initiative (NCTI).

NCTI asked the anti-graft agency to probe alleged abuse of office by Dikko.

It also asked ICPC to call on the CG and his team to account for the alleged disappearance of some containers and N3.5billion incurred on the installation of internet facility by the Nigeria Customs Service.

The ICPC confirmed the receipt of the petition from the affected group on July 29. In the petition, which was signed by one Dr. James Onoja, the group asked ICPC to probe some infractions allegedly committed by the CG.

The allegations against the CG include contravention of the Public Service Rule, manipulation of promotions, high-handedness and inflation of purchase of BMW cars for senior Customs officials.

The petitioners alleged that the Customs Board was kept in the dark as promotions were manipulated and Customs officials were selectively elevated.

They claimed that bootlickers, favourites and stooges were elevated to juicy and sumptuous positions and postings to Lagos and Port-Harcourt ports.

He was constantly in battle.

Dikko also drew the ire of the public last year when he declared that he would remain Customs CG “so long as Jonatahn remains Nigeria’s President”.

Notwithstanding the various darts, Dikko left an indelible mark as Customs Comptroller-General.

It was under Dikko that the NCS started talking of revenue in trillions of naira.

Enhanced staff welfare, increased revenue generation and the introduction of the pre-arrival assessment report (PAAR) scheme remain some of the highpoints of his tenure but the earlier stated allegations including the allegations of vindictiveness, high-handedness and intolerance will continue to haunt him.

I won’t be totally surprised if he is the next high profile guest of the EFCC.

Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.