Certain personnel of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), alleged protégés of Comptroller-General of Customs Dikko Inde Abdullahi, so-called CG Boys, have continued to ride roughshod over the command structure of the paramilitary organisation, according to SHIPS & PORTS DAILY findings.
The deviants, it was learnt, populate the Valuation Units and the Customs Intelligence Units (CIUs), among others, of the NCS Area Commands, where their attitude and actions eloquently testify that they have low regards for the Customs Area Controllers (CACs), and, therefore, are not answerable to them.
These deviants, it was gathered, perceive themselves as being directly answerable to the Customs Headquarters, Abuja or the Comptroller-General, and not in any way to the management or CAC of the particular command where any them may be serving.
These Customs deviants’ reign of impunity is in spite of stout denials by the Comptroller-General of Customs that he was neither their backer or mentor, as widely alleged.
No less an auspicious platform as A Stakeholders’ Forum on ICT Application for Trade Facilitation, which held recently at the Apapa Area Command, Lagos, was used by Abdullahi to publicly wash his hands off the so-called CG Boys.
The Customs chief had made it clear at that forum that every Customs personnel, including of the CIU, serving under any Area Command was subject to the control of the CAC.
To drive home his point about his not being a promoter of the culture of CG Boys, the Customs chief had narrated a story of how he had a close relative of his , who is a serving junior Customs officer, arrested, allegedly for taking undue advantage of his position as Customs helmsman.
Abdullahi further told his audience that the operations of the CIU require discreetness, and not the operatives engaging in cargo examination, as alleged.
The Customs boss has also been emphatic that CACs must be hands-on and assertive in their approach to governance.
In spite of the Customs chief’s exhortations, however, the status quo, it was gathered, has continued.
The poor state of affairs was brought to the fore again last Tuesday at a closed-door meeting at the Port and Terminal Multi-Services Limited (PTML) Area Command, when the CAC, Comptroller Tajudeen Olanrewaju, and his top Lieutenants, met with stakeholders, notably Customs agents, at the Conference Room of the Customs House.
The meeting, according to sources, was a no-holds-barred session, during which quite a number of the agents expressed their angst over alleged highhandedness by operatives of the Valuation Unit and the CIU.
The agents, it was learnt, went as far as passing a vote of no confidence on the CAC, acusing him of allegedly not being in firm control of his command, allowing subordinates, including a certain Customs Inspector, unbridled powers because of their alleged connections to the Customs Headquarters.
The agents lamented that the antics of certain operatives of the Valuation Unit and the CIU were allegedly a cog in the cargo clearance process, noting that, while these Valuation Unit operatives often queried duty payable on cargoes, routinely imposing arbitrary increases, the CIU operatives frequently intercepted already cleared cargoes at the gates.
These CIU operatives at PTML Area Command, according to the agents, routinely intercept and delay already cleared consignments at the gates for payment of ransoms of between N100,000 and N500,000.
Sources informed SHIPS & PORTS DAILY that, in his response, the CAC claimed to be unaware of the various allegations raised by the agents, appealing that he would look into the issues in order to resolve them.
As a consequence of that meeting, the CAC, it was learnt, has been discreetly touring the various terminals and units under his command.