It was an evening in June, 2007 when I was returning from Badagry and there was pandemonium at the Agbara Customs Patrol Base of The Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, where Ali Ibrahim a.k.a Alibrah, then a Chief Superintendent of Customs, as the Officer – in – Charge, had ordered the arrest of some soldiers and confiscation of goods being smuggled by them.
Inspite of threats by other soldiers who were in their tens to tear down the base if their colleagues were not set free, he remained calm, unperturbed and solidly in – charge.
Amidst the soldiers protest, the handcuffed culprits were later taken to the Ikeja Headquarters of the Unit where Comptroller Rasheed Taiwo a.k.a “Lion in the Jungle” was waiting.
That was uncommon display of Bravery and Commitment and I remember that day with a feeling of pride and nostalgia.
His reign at Agbara Patrol Base was nightmarish to smugglers as many of them were forced out of business.
The youthful Alibrah whose zest and drive for the reduction of smuggling activities to its barest minimum was so religious, meticulous and rigorous, was complimented by capable lieutanants whose determination, courage and loyalty was assuring and encouraging.
At Agbara, “The Fear Of Alibrah by smugglers was palpable” as movements of various seizures in trucks to government warehouse, Ikeja was a daily routine.
Born in 1963, he gained admission to study History and Sociology in Bayero University, Kano (BUK) where he graduated in 1986 with combined honours.
With this rare feat and the burning desire to impact the society positively, he enlisted in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in 1989 and has progressively carved a niche for himself.
On completion of his compulsory one year programme at the Nigeria Customs Training College, Ikeja – Lagos, he was posted to Seme Command as an Assistant Superintendent of Customs in 1990.
In 1991, this young and effervescent officer who was naturally and divinely marked for excellence, won an award for his anti – smuggling exploits under the now Retired Assistant Comptroller – General of Customs (ACG) Okeke who was the Area Controller.
From his first posting to Seme Command to the moment of writing this article, he has traversed many commands, worked in different sections and in different capacities with dexterous, visionary and dedicated strides.
In 1992, hardworking and enthusiastic Ali Ibrahim was posted to Oyo State Command where he was in charge of the Special Unit on Anti – Smuggling Operations.
He made remarkable seizures which in turn earned him merit awards.
Most outstanding amongst the seizures, was a large consignment of life ammunition which was celebrated as the largest single life ammunition seizure at the time.
A thoroughbred, resourceful, articulate, industrious and dogged officer with ample loyalty to the service and fear of God.
These glowing qualities and more which have endeared him to the result oriented management of the Nigeria Customs Service paved the way for his recent promotion to the enviable rank of Comptroller by the Customs board and subsequently deployed to the Federal Operations Unit, Zone C, Owerri, in charge of the eleven (11) states on the South-Southern and South-Eastern divide of the country.
Since assuming leadership at FOU “C” on October 14, 2021, he has meticulously revived the officers enforcement spirit and positively redefined its relationship with sister agencies and host communities; and these have translated numerically into volume of seizures.
Mr Ali Ibrahim’s about six months reign so far in Owerri has no doubt inflicted incurable financial wounds on many recalcitrant and die-hard smugglers.
Alibrah as he is fondly called has zero tolerance for vices that are not profitable to the Federal Government including, underpayment, false declaration and duty evasion.
Between October 14, 2021 and November 13, 2021, barely a month of his resumption, seizures with duty paid value of about #318,154,742 million were made.
The items which were intercepted at different locations by the eagle-eyed officers on patrol duties around the zone include; a Lexus LX570 Jeep without End User Certificate.
Other items are; eight other vehicles estimated at #158,734,742 million, 294 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice concealed with RC minerals worth #11,760 million, 304 pieces of used tyres worth #4,560,000 million, 657 Jumbo bales of used clothing value at #131,400 million and 32,500 litres of Automated Gas Oil (Diesel) concealed in 650 jumbo sacks worth #11.7 million.
While the smugglers were yet to come to terms with the hurricane that swooped them, a deadlier one hit them between January 1st and February 28th, 2022.
The seized items whose Duty Paid Value was put at #529,056,456 million included; 640 cartons of unregistered pharmaceuticals including tramadol worth #192 million, conveyed in a DAF heavy duty truck and one J5 bus intercepted along Okada/Benin axis; 1650 bales of second hand clothing valued at #165 million; 181.50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice worth over N7.2 million, 2,239 pieces of used pneumatic tyres worth N4.5million and 36,000 litres of smuggled petroleum products concealed in polyethylene bags, worth N3.6 million.
Also caught in the web of the celebrated anti – smuggling czar within this period under review are eight exotic vehicles without relevant customs documents.They include three Toyota Hilux of 2017, 2020 and 2021 models; one Land Cruiser Prado 2016 model; one Toyota Highlander 2014 and one Toyota Venza 2016 model among others.
Mr Ali Ibrahim attributed the recorded feat to the pragmatism and logistics support of the Comptroller – General, Col. Hameed Ali and his management team to the zone and pledged to justify the confidence reposed in him.
In his words, Mr Ali Ibrahim who before now, was a Deputy Controller, Enforcement at Federal Operations Unit, Zone A and later, DC Gate, Apapa Command where his wealth of experience positively impacted on his transactions and interface with freight forwarders as was evident in the orderly and rancour free passage of goods and upsurge in the Command’s revenue chart, said “We thank the management of the Nigeria Customs Service led by our Comptroller- General without whom these noteworthy achievements would not have been possible. We pledge to continue justifying the incentives and logistics support we receive which include a recent additional supply of 10 Toyota Hilux Vehicles which are already being used in our patrol and surveillance activities”.
He was also full of praises for his officers and men, saying, “I also commend our officers and men for their patriotic commitment to duty even in the face of unprovoked attacks and sympathize with families and loved ones of our officers who paid the supreme price; may their souls rest in peace”.
While he called on traditional and religious leaders as well as other well-meaning Nigerians to advise their followers to desist from attacking security personnel, in the interest of peace and progress; he equally said “Similarly, I urge all economic saboteurs to turn a new leaf from their illegal business, because no matter how surreptitious their activities may be, this unit is more determined and committed to making sure of unwaivering implementation of the Government’s fiscal policy”.
Ibrahim informed that six suspects arrested during the period under review have been granted administrative bail.
Source: Tunde Umar