BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
Comptroller H.K. Ejibunu is the Controller, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit, Zone ‘A’ Lagos. Regarded as one of the service’s greatest anti-smuggling chiefs, Ejibunu combines courage, diligence and ruggedness in getting results, and with great zeal, he crushes every resistance on his way to carry out his assignments, and remains the poster boy of the service.
The mention of his name evokes fear among economic criminal elements within all the nooks and crannies of its territorial reach within the South West, not just because he wields enormous power, but more because he is alive to his responsibility in line with the service headquarters expectation.
All things being equal, he is loved and respected by the leadership of the service, management and his superiors, and the consciousness of this, sources close to his office say gives him genuine satisfaction; that inner contentment that he represents the service’s pillar of duty, diligence and integrity, amongst the NCS other objectives and core values.
Posted to the Unit in September 2021, Ejibunu has executed some of the most nerve wracking and scariest operations, taking his officers and men through the shadow of operational darkling plains; and the grotesque, ominous theatre of war.
His scorecard for close to 30 months he has been on the saddle has unarguably been as impressive as it has been challenging, even as he has come out almost always victorious, very often, steps ahead of the smuggling underworld.
Today, let us hurry past the off sides, the melancholy, the bruises, pains and the carnage; often laced with perceived administrative rascality and errors of judgment, and dwell on the statutory mandate of the unit and its rainbow like outlines with its mesmerizing hues, colours and tones.
Within the 30 months period under review, Ejibunu literally delivered in all fronts, be it suppression of smuggling through interception of cargo and re-routing of same for further checks due to questionable documentations, faulty releases, concealments, revenue receipts recovery and or under payments etc.
Every month, he addresses a press conference in which he gives account of the prior month’s seizures and other activities. Always top of the list of seizures are banned or restricted imported items such as automobiles, foreign parboiled rice, fairly used clothing, tyres and shoes, machineries, auto parts, electronics, foreign drinks and vegetable oil; including medicaments and illicit substances.
Thus far and on the face of his organization’s statutory responsibility, Ejibunu represents service, integrity, duty and honour; standing tall as the embodiment of devotion, focus and hard work.
It was not surprising therefore that on Friday, February 26, 2024 during the just concluded International Customs Day (ICD) organized by the World Customs Organization (WCO) which was held at the Customs Training College Ikeja, he bagged the WCO Award in the category of the Most Outstanding Anti-smuggling Officer.
The symphony and tones that wafted from his citation read by no one else but the indefatigable Customs National Public Relations Officer, CSC AbdulIahi Maiwada, will reverberate for a long time to come. His nomination for the award by the management of the NCS merely underscores the aforementioned trust and confidence reposed on him by the leadership and management of the service.
It was a very proud Ejibunu who marched smartly to the podium to receive his award from the Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adewale Adeniyi MFR,colourfully supported by the Minster of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola CON.
It is not hard to imagine that the WCO Award comes across as the crowning glory of his exploits, which effectively puts a stamp of authority as it were, on his claim to duty and honour. It will be a lifetime ornament of priceless memorial.
Occupationally and professionally, there could be no better reward, or is there?
Yesterday, February 6, 2024 when he addressed the media on his unit’s activities for the month of January, Ejibunu figuratively speaking, was still standing on the dais provided by the ICD celebration, basking in the euphoria of the international recognition enabled by the NCS Headquarters in addition to the benevolence of the NCS leadership.
…TO BE CONTINUED