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MBA Musa: a silent working machine at Tin Can Customs

By Eyewitness Reporter


His mien gives him away as a harmless, non-assuming introvert.

But beneath his calm look lies a tough, determined and uncompromising work attitude that has distinguished the Tin Can command of the Nigeria Customs service as one of the biggest revenue baskets of the service.

Musa Baba Abdulahi(MBA), the  Customs Area Comptroller of the Tin Can command, bestrides the command like a gentle giant.

He presides over the command reputed as the second cash cow for the Nigeria Customs Service with unassuming dexterity and clinical efficiency.

Musa is not given to publicity. He hardly grants press interviews.

He loathes calling the press to flaunt his achievements at the command.

He believes that aspect is better handled by his equally versatile  Public Relations Officer,  Uche Ejesieme, who has equally mastered and emulated the work ethics of his boss.

While he leaves the talking to his spokesman, Musa marshals his officers to do the work he was mandated: revenue collection, trade facilitation, discouragement of anti- illicit practices such as importation of contraband and seamless Customs operations.

He believes his works and achievements are enough to publicise him.

So, while his colleagues enjoy generous publicity, Musa daily buries his head in his works, churning out impressive results which have consistently screamed the name of the command to the hearing of his superior officers at Abuja.

His consistent impressive performance at the command has however adequately compensated for his almost anonymity at the unit.

No wonder his no-nonsense boss, Col. Hammed Ali, the Comptroller-General of Customs, seems to have ” forgotten” to redeploy him from the command as the case of other area Comptrollers whom he changes at will.Against the norm of high mortality of the tenures of Area Comptrollers at the Commands, Musa has spent three years two months so far as the helmsman of the Tin Can Command.

And the CGC seems not in a hurry to look in his direction for a change yet except when it is time for his elevation to the next rank.

Whoever knows the practice of the CGC who shuffles his field commanders at the drop of his hat, then the ‘ long’ and running tenure of Musa is a feat “unheard of” under the administration of Col. Ali.

While all other commands, especially the ‘grade A’ commands,  have experienced multiple turnovers of the CACs in the past years, the Tin Can Command has enjoyed relative stability in terms of changes in helmsmen since February 2018 when Musa berthed at the Tin Can Command.

But it would be fallacious to assume that the eagle- eye, highly mobile CGC overlooked or  ‘forgot’ to include Musa in the litany of redeployments that have come to characterise his administration, but it seems Musa is “playing the match according to the match plan” of his coach.

In football, you don’t change a winning team.

At his resumption of office as the CGC in September 2015, Hameed Ali pointedly told his senior officers in Abuja about his unambiguous mission to the Customs.

“I have come to carry out the mandate of Mr. President to reform Customs, to restructure Customs, and to increase the revenue generation.

“I don’t think that is ambiguous. I don’t think that is cumbersome. It is precise and I believe that is what all of you are here to do” the CGC had then said six years ago.

So Musa has stayed this long because he knew and mastered the rules of engagement.

Statistics show why Musa has wormed his way into the heart of his boss, a feat that is almost inconceivable given the deadpan expression the CGC always wears which gives him away as someone who doesn’t indulge in needless emotions.

When he was redeployed from the office of the CGC to Tin Can Command on February 1st, 2018, Musa had a clear understanding of his vision and mission to the command.

“Part of my key mandates includes trade facilitation, driving of seamless ease of doing business, provision of coordinating roles in port operations, and strict maintenance of national security at the ports.

“The Command will continue to maintain lead in revenue generation which remains a core function of the Customs,” he said at his maiden press conference in 2018.

This has therefore been the driving force of MBA since he berthed at the Tin Can command where he has consolidated on revenue generation, trade facilitation, capacity building, and cordial working relationship with other stakeholders through constant engagement that has resulted in seamless operations.
In 2018 when he took over, he met N62 billion in the revenue coffers bequeathed to him by his predecessor out of the N354 billion target for that year.
But he went on to surpass the revenue projection.
In 2019, he brushed aside the N342 billion revenue target with more than N4 billion in excess when the command generated N346.508 billion.
Expectedly, the command was greatly challenged in its 2020 revenue drive due to the ravaging Covid-19 pandemic which affected importations.
Ironically, that was the year the command, relying on its track records of revenue successes, confidently raised the N504 billion target given to it by the Customs headquarters to N540 billion, which was about 70 percent higher than the previous year’s.
The command started on a brighter revenue note in 2021 despite the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic when it raked in N112.7 billion within the first three months of the year, a figure that was N21.1 billion higher than the N91.6 billion realised within the same period in 2020.

“The comparative analysis of quarter one revenue collection from 2018 to 2021 are as follows: in 2018, N76,789,721,107.42; in 2019, N78,857,106,168.27; and in 2020, N91,635,998,490.73,” the customs boss said

“This improvement is despite the twin threat to lives and livelihood posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The command has inspired their officers to continue to work hard while observing all the safety measures to achieve the best of performance.

“We kept our lines of communication open and concerted effort was made to ensure that the supply chain is not disrupted,” Musa said of the geometric increase in revenue performance since he took over.

The success of Musa lies in his heavy deployment of technology to track revenue, plug revenue leakages, and reduce excessive physical contacts between officers and the trading public which he believes will minimise corruption.

He also put much emphasis on building human capacity as he believes well-trained and motivated officers will enhance efficient service delivery.

As a result, officers are being trained on a regular basis on some of the core functions of the customs in the areas of classification, risk management, and data management, the areas in which Musa himself is well versed as a Mining Engineer who joined the service as a Cadet Officer in 1990,  and had undergone several trainings in Valuation and Classification, which are the core duties of the Nigerian Customs Service.

Trade facilitation holds as much passion for Musa as revenue generation.

This was why at his resumption of duties in 2018, he reinvigorated the Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) which he personally heads, and made his PRO the deputy to sit daily and resolve all issues arising from valuation within six hours.

This was unlike the previous arrangement when the committee sat two times a week.

He also deployed and beefed up the Time Release study tool to determine the actual time required for the release and clearance of goods right from the time the cargo arrives to the physical release from Customs’ control.

Time Release study was a strategic tool that was capable of identifying bottlenecks in the trade value chain and creating an enabling environment for effective and efficient customs operations.

Musa made judicious use of all these tools and methods which create a conducive, customers- friendly environment that facilitate the quick clearance of goods and which in turn boosts his revenue drive.

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Comptroller Nnadi mourns death of retired customs officer,   DCG Sanusi

—–reminiscences on his encounter with late Customs boss
The eyewitness reporter 
Comptroller Dera Nnadi, the Area Controller of the Seme Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, has expressed a deep sense of loss mixed with grief over the death of DCG (rtd) Umar Sanusi
The retired Customs boss died early hours of Sunday 26th, March 2023,  at a private hospital in Abuja and will be buried according to Islamic rites the same day after Muslim prayer in the Abuja Central Mosque.
However,  in an emotion-laden tribute to the late Customs boss, Nnadi bemoaned the death of Sanusi whom he said he admired and revered as a Customs officer.
Recounting his various encounters with the deceased, Nnadi disclosed that the late Sanusi came across to him as a fine, diligent, compassionate, thorough, and core professional officer who was humane, humble, and highly detribalized, the attributes which Comptroller Nnadi said had a deep impression on him
“It is with a heavy heart that I received the news of the death of DCG Rtd Umar Sanusi.  A gentleman officer and an erudite Nigerian.
“My first encounter with the senior officer was in 2003 or so at the  CGC conference in Calabar Cross River State, where, as an Assistant Comptroller of Customs, he presented a report as the  APM Apapa Command.
“It was not common then to present papers and reports in PowerPoint, but he did. This was not the only remarkable thing he did at the conference.
“The then AC Sanusi was detailed in his report, which was a departure from what others presented.
“He was factual and honest and admitted it where things were wrong in NCS  operations at Apapa Command and highlighted them in writing during his presentation.
“This was shocking to the entire audience as it was rare then for officers to admit that their acts while discharging their duties, were not optimal.
“Some attempt by the moderator to stop him was rebuffed by a lone voice.
“One man and indeed the Boss was that voice. The then  CGC now Gbon Gwom Jos Da Elder Jacob Gyang Buba overruled everybody and urged him to continue and to even say more if he has facts.
“He gave him more time than the allotted 30 minutes. There was a pin-drop silence.
“AC Sanusi earned a place in the Service after that encounter. He also earned my admiration as a young Deputy Superintendent of Customs.
“Our path was to cross again when I was posted to Apapa prior to the commencement of the second phase of the NCS and  NPA port reforms, which coincided in 2006.
” AC Sanusi was the APM and  I was the PRO of the Command.
“The NCS reforms included migration from basic  ASYCUDA to ASYCUDA 2.0, the use of the precursor to PAAR called Risk Assessment Report RAR, the introduction of e- Payment regime and the introduction of Non-Intrusive Cargo examination- Scanners all with Apapa Port as the pilot Command.
“On the other hand and going on simultaneously was the port concession which saw NPA handing over to private sector owners of the port facilities.
“The challenges then were enormous, but we survived all through DCG Sanusi’s diligence with the then Comptroller Rasheed Owolabi Taiwo.
“It was a milestone for me and indeed for the senior officer then AC Sanusi. I learnt a lot from him.
“Yet another remarkable encounter with DCG Sanusi was at the NCS Headquarters when he was appointed ACG Headquarters.
“I had gone to greet him and pay homage when he did the “unthinkable” at least in my little understanding of life then.
“After taking my compliments, he offered me a seat and of course, I refused to seat in his presence as an Assistant Comptroller out of courtesy.
“He said ‘Nnadi, I have observed that we are not close anymore and I think this is an opportunity for me to address it’. I was shocked and said it wasn’t so.
“What he said next shocked me. He said ” I know I offended you but I  want to use this opportunity to apologise and request that you work closely with me. As ACG HQ, I will need you around me since you are in SR&P”.
“I  responded that I did not know that he offended me being his junior who respect and admire him. He said I should never mind.
“He offered me a gift, stepped out, shook my hands and gave me a hug.
“I left his office confused, overwhelmed with emotions and thereafter held in greater esteem and awe. His loss is a personal one to me.
“Farewell DCG Umar Sanusi. NCS and indeed Nigeria lost a gem” Nnadi sobbed.
The deceased, Sanusi, who retired in 2019 as DCG, Human Resources Department, died after a brief illness in the early hours of Sunday, 26th March 2023.
Sanusi was earlier appointed Assistant Comptroller General Customs (ACG), Headquarters by Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), in 2015 before he was promoted to DCG in 2018.
Announcing his death, the Public Relations Officer, PTML command of the Service, SC Yakubu Muhammed said
“With heavy heart,i notify us of the demise of DCG AU Sanusi(Rtd).

“He passed on about an hour ago at a private hospital in Abuja. The Janaza prayers hold after the Zuhr prayers (1 pm) at the National Mosque, Abuja In Shaa Allah,”

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Apapa Customs launches man hunt for fleeing importer, agent of seized Tramadol


—hands over 20 cartons of illicit drug worth N1.4billion to NDLEA

The Eyewitness reporter

The Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has launched a manhunt for the fleeing importer of 20 cartons of Tramadol intercepted at the Classic Bonded Terminal, Lagos in December 2022.

The importer, who brought in the illicit drug from India, is currently on the run with his agent who attempted to clear the illicit drug said to be three times deadlier than the conventional tramadol tablets.

The Area Controller of Apapa Customs, Comptroller AB Mohammed, while handling the 20 cartoons of the seized drug to Mr Udotong Noah Essien, the Commander of Nacortics of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency(NDLEA), Apapa Special Command, Wednesday at the Clarion Terminal, Lagos, disclosed that both the consignee and the agent could not be traced to their addresses which he said were fake.

”I am here today to hand over 20 cartons of illicit drug which belongs to the class of tramadol to the NDLEA Commander Essien for further investigation and prosecution of the suspects”

Comptroller Mohammed disclosed that the TIN number of the importer and the customs license of his agent have both been blocked but lamented that both of them gave fake addresses which make it difficult for them to be traced.

He however promised that the Customs, in collaboration with the NDLEA and other security agencies, will hunt down the fleeing suspects wherever they may be.

The Customs chief even said the suspects will be caught even if they fled the country with the aid of INTERPOL.

”We tried to trace them through their addresses but the addresses they gave were fake. We could not trace them to the addresses.

”They have been on the run and we are in search of them but sooner or later, we shall catch up with them and they will face the full wrath of the law.”

Comptroller Mohammed disclosed that the consignee concealed the drug in a jumbled mass of gummy pop sweets which he falsely declared as driving shaft and candy sweets.

He however promised to make Apapa port unconducive to the importation of illicit drugs and their traffickers, vowing to bring to bear the full weight of the law on the perpetrators.

While receiving the drugs on behalf of the Chairman of the NDLEA, Brigadier-General(rtd) Buba Marwa, Mr Udotong Noah Essien, the Commander of Nacortics of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency(NDLEA), Apapa Special Command, lauded the efforts of the Apapa Customs command for the successes so far recorded in the war against the importation of illicit drugs through the port corridor.

He applauded the collaboration between the two agencies which he said has yielded tremendous results in curtailing the importation of drugs into the country.

The NDLEA commander promised that the agency will hunt down the fleeing suspects with the collaboration of the Customs and other relevant security agencies, adding that the agency has spread its dragnet all around the country and that the suspects cannot escape.

The seized drug is said to be a deadlier new variant of Tramadol called Trapaking tablets which has a higher potency than normal Tramadol.

The interception and seizure made at the Classic marine bonded terminal, Ago Palace Way, Festac, Lagos, exposed the novel way the importers of these illicit drugs now use to bring in the prohibited item.

It was Imported from India and is three times deadlier than the normal tramadol.

The new drug variant was in 20 cartons of 225mg of 838,500 tablets and 90,000 of 120mg tablets.

The street value of the seized item was put at N1.400 billion with each cartoon worth about N70million.

The consignment came in from India but was intercepted through intelligence and collaborative efforts of Customs officers and other sister security agencies.

The Customs operatives trailed the illicit cargo since it came into the port on July 3rd, 2022 as the importer, who initially abandoned it, was buying time and delaying its declaration in order to throw off the officers from its trail.




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How terminal operators sabotage cargo scanning operations at Tin Can port


—As Customs intends to get mobile scanners to achieve total compliance 

The Eyewitness reporter

The Tin can Island command of the Nigeria Customs Service has accused the terminal operators of frustrating the cargo scanning process at the port.

The Area Controller of the Command, Comptroller Olakunle Oloyede, made the veiled accusation last week during his presentation of the command”s performance for 2022.

Comptroller Oloyede alleged that the terminal operators are not willing to provide trucks that will take consignments scheduled for scanning to the scanning site, thus making it difficult for the command to achieve a 100 percent compliance level by importers and their agents.

”It is a big problem for the terminal operators to bring me trucks to take the consignments to the scanning site where the fixed scanners are located”, he lamented, saying ” but customs can”t do it alone, we have to do this work together with other stakeholders, there should be a synergy to get this job done as we all agreed to work together”

”Even, if I have 10 fixed scanners at the port and the terminal operators are not willing to provide trucks to move the consignments to the scanning site, that is a problem”, he stated.

But to circumvent this human obstacle to the scanning operations, Comptroller Oloyeded revealed that the command has decided to procure mobile scanners that will be placed on the quayside to scan containers dropped from the vessels before they are taken to the stacking areas.

”What we intend to do is to buy more mobile scanners and place them at the quayside.

”As your container is dropped on the truck that will take it to the stacking area, it would be made to go through the mobile scanner at the quayside. This will make compliance level compulsory.

”This is because the mobile machines will be at the quayside where they can be moved from one end of the quayside to the other.

”Even, if I have two mobile machines, they are enough for me. We just place them side by side on the vessel and your truck we move through them.

”And the scanning will not be more than five seconds per container. I can scan up to 400 containers a day, even more, without analysis.

”I will just scan for record purposes but when it is time when the owner of the cargo is ready for the clearance process, that is when the risk management tool will tell me which of those containers I have already scanned and kept their records are going for scanning. This is when we scan and analyse.

”This is what we intend to do very very soon”, the Customs chief declared.

On the issue of customs’ failure to apply value depreciation on old cars, Oloyede said that Customs does not have data for cars older than the approved age limit of 2014.

According to him, the system has been configured in such a way as not to recognise them, but rather than outrightly reject them, that is the reason they make them pay the value of the newer cars.

He observed that in other climes, such old cars are meant to be crushed and used as raw materials for other things but lamented that in Nigeria, people still bring in cars of 2005, 2007 into the country.

”There is no data for old vehicles. They are meant to be crushed. Our system is programmed to take cognisance of government policy on the age limit of cars. Any vehicles outside the approved age limit are not recognised..

He extricated Customs from the astronomical increase in the costs of vehicles in the market, attributing the high cost to the galloping exchange rates and the dynamism of the international market.

”When we talk of value for clearance, before, what was the exchange rate, and now, what is the exchange rate? This is what has affected the cost of cars in the market.

”And on value depreciation, you can’t depreciate vehicles that you are not supposed to bring into the country. But for vehicles within the age limit of 2014, the depreciation of value is there”

He also revealed that the system has been configured in such as way that there can’t be human intervention or interference.






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