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Senior Customs Officers Allegedly Involved In Multi-billion Naira Corruption Scandal




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Some senior officials of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) have been allegedly enmeshed in a multi-billion naira corruption scandal.

At least 40 senior Customs officers have been indicted in a robust investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) into the proceeds of bribes paid to customs officials by smugglers.

At least seven of these officials were detained by the EFCC for days late last year, with some of them spending the festive period in detention when proceeds of bribes allegedly from smugglers totalling over N12 billion were traced to them, according to Premium Times.

The news platform said all seven of them were not prosecuted and have been allowed back to their duty posts. It added that at least seven high-ranking officials of the NCS were grilled by the anti-graft agency, and parts of the bribes they received were confiscated.

Customs insiders and other sources familiar with the matter told the newspaper that the officers were found to own properties and businesses way above what their earnings as customs officers could cater for.

This newspaper learned that the EFCC’s investigation also involves at least 33 other officers of the service.

According to a source, some of these officials amassed the largest tranche of these bribes from smugglers last year after the directive to close the Nigeria-Niger border as part of ECOWAS sanctions against the military junta that deposed Nigerien President, Mohamed Bazoum.

The smugglers pay bribes directly or through agents designated accounts of the NCS officials,” the source said.

He stated that most of the officers detained operate in Zone B, which operates in more than half the borders that Nigeria shares with the Niger Republic in Sokoto, Katsina, Kano, and Jigawa states.

Six of the seven identified officers worked in Zone B, while one officer, to whom more than 80 per cent of the N12 billion was traced, works in Zone C, Port Harcourt.

Identified Officers

One of the arrested officers, the NCS’ Area Controller Zone B Kaduna, Ibrahim Jalo, was found with $31,200 and N500,000 in cash when arrested, the source noted.

But the EFCC traced suspected proceeds of bribes from smugglers totalling N1.1 billion to him.

Sources revealed that the customs officer promptly refunded N250 million, with a promise to refund the balance.

The EFCC also traced N126 million to Jalo’s personal assistant, Umar Tafarki. He has also refunded N12 million.

Another officer involved in this saga is Kayode Kolade, the Comptroller Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone C, Port Harcourt.

The anti-graft agency was said to have traced N9.5 billion, suspected to be bribes from smugglers, to him, all of which he was said to have received personally and through proxies between 2015 and 2023.

It was learned that the EFCC detained Kolade for three days in December. He spent Christmas Day in detention. He has refunded N50 million and committed to refund N800 million within a short period.

Another indicted officer, Nurudeen Musa, is the Comptroller of Enforcement, Kaduna Zone.

The EFCC traced N950 million to him. The anti-graft agency has recovered N583 million from him after he spent days in detention. He has also promised to refund the rest.

The EFCC’s investigation found that Musa, who previously served as Area Comptroller, Katsina Area command, was extraordinarily wealthy and owned lots of assets including two filling stations and large trucks, all of which investigators suspect were acquired with illicit funds.

Meanwhile, Hamisu Ibrahim, the officer in charge of Operation FOU Zone B, Kaduna, was suspected to have garnered N120 million in bribes from smugglers between 2019 and 2023. As of January, he has refunded N13 million and promised to refund the rest.

Meanwhile, Madugu Saleh and Mohammed Rabiu were suspected to have received N85 million and 84 million respectively from smugglers.

Saleh has refunded N13.5 million and promised to refund the rest.

Rabiu, the officer in charge of patrol on the Agangaro/Jibia Road, refunded N15 million to the anti-graft agency.

However, the newspaper reports that intense lobbying is ongoing at the highest level of the federal government in an attempt to cover up a multi-billion naira corruption scandal.

Ige Olugbenga is a fine-grained journalist. He loves the smell of a good lead and has a penchant for finding out something nobody else knows.