…Continue from Wednesday, February 7,2024
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
Like camouflage seeks to obviate detection and blend with its environment, shadows don’t really die, they merely recedes or fade owing to increased brightness of the environment imposed by nature and reattach with their sources as soon as the conditions becomes favourable again; that is, as soon as they find the corresponding, homogenous weather that can offer it the required support.
To wit, like temptations or and even time, shadows don’t go away, they are always there and eternal as it were; we routinely approach them and the moment we offer the right connection, they attach themselves to us once again.
Whatever assails the Controller, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’ Lagos, Comptroller H.K. Ejibunu by way of temptations is not only peculiar but proportionate to the dynamics of his special duty and the power and authority that goes with it.
All things being equal, nor are the temptations that assails him as a man be regarded as huge or the everyday sorts, but whether routine or uncommon, as a gentleman officer, the vow of office and duty obligates him to remain above board; always.
These are qualities that defines his character, focus, work culture among other essential leadership values and which no doubt to a large extent must have formed the basis of his recommendation for the World Customs Organization (WCO) Award he received, penultimate week.
It is to be expected that only gentlemen officers wins such international recognitions, officers who are clearly able to navigate their path honourably and dutifully amid the allures and lure of office. It is not for nothing the military and the para-military coined the soubriquet ‘gentleman officer’; which is a proof of hardboiled discipline and order.
As a foremost institution of government, commendation letters and or awards by the NCS not to talk of one by its supervising global counterpart, obviously based on its advice, greatly reinforces the integrity of the lucky beneficiary and gentleman officer; as it were.
It is not for nothing therefore that that those who feel encouraged to celebrate the FOU Zone A anti-smuggling czar should jolly well, do so. As things stand Comptroller Ejibunu is a brand ambassador of the NCS, unless perhaps, anyone have any reason or reasons to think otherwise.
Historically, such reservations have been far few apart in the past three decades; and when Ejibunu resumed at the unit, he made it explicitly clear and loud that the war against moral bankruptcy and therefore war against suppression of smuggling and customs administration generally will witness the highest possible endeavour, laced with integrity, under his watch.
His vow literally covered not just himself but also his officers and men, as well indeed third parties persons associated with the unit in any way.
Ejibuno who took over as Acting Controller of Customs of the Umit on a Friday from DC Usman Yahaya, later promoted comptroller, thanked officers of the unit for the reception accorded him on arrival.
He encouraged officers to utilise their physical and intellectual capacities to impact positively on the service and nation. While calling attention for the national cause, Ejibunu expressed unmistaken reservation against self interest of any kind, which set him apart as a leader to look up to.
“Everybody should think of what to do for the Service and not only what to gain from it,” he said.
For someone that served as the Coordinator of the Comptroller General of Customs Strike Force Headquarters, it was not in doubt that fine gentleman officer knew what he was talking about.
He has also proven through his track records, that he understood his job and its intricate nature. Not many dare mess with him; his roar across the smuggling plain is always regarded by the underworld as potential danger to be avoided by wide margin.
Operationally, his monthly media briefing resonates with assurances of increasing offensives and unremitting resolve to sustain the traction. Last week he provided a new operational definition of smuggling to include acts inconsistent with the rules of engagement, noting that the unit under his watch will continue to treat such acts not only as economic criminality but also as moral sin.
Ejibunu said that in January 2024, the unit intercepted a total of 60 questionable goods with a Duty Paid Value of N854,156,712. He gave the breakdown of the items seized to include 3,653 X 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice, which is equivalent to 6.5 trailer loads; 23,025 litres of premium motor spirit (PMS); 241 bales of used clothes; 1,490 kg of cannabis sativa (Indian Hemp); 1,220 cartons of foreign tomato paste; 983 pieces of used tyres; 104 units of Haojuo motorcycles; 556 cartons of slippers; and 11 units of used vehicles.
He said, “Smuggling is a crime that has to do with the act of false declaration and concealment of goods, the use of unapproved routes and ports for the exportation or importation of goods, forging of Customs documents, willful under-payment of Customs duties, and trafficking in prohibited or restricted goods among others.
“The impact of smuggling has very serious repercussions on the economy, the environment, health and security.
On revenue recovery, he said “the sum of N83, 141,803.60 was generated through documentary checks and issuance of demand notices on consignments that were found to have been short-paid.”
Savvy, eloquent, resourceful and very engaging, there is no doubt that Ejibunu perfectly fits his office.
…TO BE CONTINUED