BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
Recently, the fearless, unapologetic, charming Coordinator of the Joint Border Patrol Team (JBPT) Sector 2 (South-West), Comptroller Nurudeen Hassan bowed out of service, after putting in about three decades in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), at the mandatory age of 60.
He was neither looking old or tired, and was indeed in his elements as a jungle combatant a day earlier when he took time off to thank officers and men of the Badagry axis who had gathered at the ECOWAS Building, for his pre-disengagement meeting.
While addressing the officers and men, Hassan placed it on record that whatever successes he recorded was not without their support, and also asked them to forgive him if in the cause of leading the war against border crimes, he may have unwittingly put his foot down hard for what he considered necessary and proper, in order to succeed together.
Under his watch, JBPT Sector 2 recovered revenue receipts amounting to about N6billion between August 2019 and February 2023. Created by the Federal Government to compliment the efforts of the Nigeria Customs Service at the closure of the nation’s land borders in 2019, the JBPT comprise of operatives of NCS, Nigeria Immigration Service, Civil Defence Corps, Directorate of State Services, the Military and Police, under the watch of the Office of the National Security Adviser.
In fact in February 2023 alone, the Sector intercepted a total of 6,819 items with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N176.30 million. The Sector’s performances since Hassan took charge in 2020 has remained top notch, with most of the seizures in customs custody across various formations across within the sector.
Speaking on the axis performance, Hassan said, “He said: “Some of the seizures within the period under review had been deposited in various government warehouses within the Area of Responsibilities (AOR). They include petrol, foreign parboiled rice, Cannabis Sativa and means of conveyances.”
Hassan disclosed that the border team particularly recorded massive seizures of petroleum products from the inception of the team until date, even as he commended operatives of the team for their selfless sacrifices and resounding gallantry.
“It is in appreciation of the highly remarkable feats of these dedicated, pragmatic and purposeful officers that we are gathered here today. And we want to congratulate them on behalf of the Customs Service and the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) for their selfless sacrifices and resounding gallantry.
“I hope that this gesture will further boost their adrenaline and equally propel other officers and team leaders in the JBT Operations to up their ante to meet up with the exigencies of this onerous assignment”, he said.
Cerebral, savvy and highly polished, Hassan’s official and interpersonal relationship is unremitting and beyond reproach. He had walked staright into the waiting arms of the Seme Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Dera Nnadi, mni, his host, upon arrival in Seme.
For a man whose intellectual sagacity is as huge as his humility, Hassan made it a point of duty at the close of the day after showcasing the Badagry axis’s seizures, to head back to the area controller’s office to thank him for receiving him and to let him he know he was on his way out; and refused to be driven out homeward from the warehouse.
While commending the Federal Government for its foresight in creating the JBPT, he said that spirit of chivalry and camaraderie that existed between the component sister agencies greatly influenced the successes so far recorded; even as he thanked the ONSA and the leadership of the Nigeria Customs Service for all necessary support, including logistics, administration and morale encouragement.
He explained further that border security has assumed global importance as nations concerned about the rate of criminal and cross border violations have increased their cross border security especially since the end of the Gulf war through the heightened trade globalization.
“Thus security of the borders is very imperative in dealing with national security challenges, smuggling, illegal traffic of arms, persons, drugs and currency as well as acts of terrorism etc.
“The function of JBT Operations is interventionist. It was set up with the objectives to enhance national security and economy through the suppression of illegal border trade and other trans- border violations to forestall the influx of arms, ammunition and to generally act in collaboration with the conventional border agencies to do their jobs rather more efficiently and strongly.
“By the design, the Nigeria JBP Operation was in the height meant to operate in conjunction with the counterparts JBP Operations across the three, 3, neighboring countries to Nigeria; namely, Republics of Benin, Niger and Cameroun,” he said.
Since assuming control of Sector 2 in 2020, Hassan remained focused on the national assignment and unruffled despite the many challenges of assaults, conspiracies, open confrontation by hostile border communities; some of which sadly he notes, resulted to loss of lives.
He disclosed that collaboration within the coalition has further broadened the base for strong synergy between all the security agencies and has greatly brought about the reduction of smuggling activities including illegal immigration, illicit traffic of contraband and trade items, and various trans-border criminalities across the land and water frontiers.
“The activities has translated into several seizures of prohibited goods such as rice, illicit drugs, unapproved medicaments, national/foreign currency, used tyres, petroleum products and etc which have since been deposited in various Government Warehouses, GWH, within the Area of Responsibilities, AOR, at Abeokuta, Idiroko, Ibadan, Ikeja and Seme axis across the Sector 2.
“Aside numerous seizures in the course of the activities within and outside the twenty, 20, kilometers radius, the Operation has recorded arrests of persons where in some situations, it included means of carriages and conveyance.
“In addition, vigilance by the operatives has led to the discovery of many desolate, abandoned and reptiles infected petrol stations used for smuggling purposes across the Sector,” he said.
Speaking on the seized items, Hassan said, “In the year 2019, the total seizures on record stood at 111,571 items with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of One Billion, Three Hundred and Forty Four Million, Five Hundred and Fifty Two Thousand, Four Hundred Naira, N1,344,552,400.00, only.
“In the year 2020, we made seizures of 73,764 items with a Duty Paid Value, DPV, of Two Billion, Five Hundred and Thirty Eight Million, Four Hundred and Forty One Thousand, Seven Hundred and Fifty Naira, N2,538,441,750.00, only.
“In 2021, the figure for seized goods stood at 32,135, with a Duty Paid Value, DPV, of One Billion, Ninety Nine Million, One Hundred and Seventy Three Thousand, Eight Hundred Naira, N1,099,173,800.00, only.”
He continued: “In the year 2022, the total number of seized goods was to the tune of Thirty- Six Thousand, Eight Hundred and Forty Four, 36,844, with a Duty Paid Value of One Billion, One Hundred and Ninety Six Million, Three Hundred and Twenty-Two Thousand and Six Naira, N1, 196,322,006:00, only
“Cumulatively, seized goods between August 2019 and January 2023, is 258,385 while 701 means of conveyance have also been seized. The total Duty Paid Value (DPV) of seized items over the period is thus, Six Billion, One Hundred and Seventy-Eight Million, Five Hundred and Eighty-Four Thousand, One Hundred and Fifty-Three Naira, N6,178,584,153:00.”
In view of the criticality of the JBPT mandate to checkmate smuggling of petroleum products across the border, Hassan was minded to establish a strong mutually beneficial cordial working relationship with the Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Agencies (NMDPRA) for maximum cooperation.
“It is important to mention at this point of the healthy working relationship with the Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Agencies (NMDPRA) in respect of the need to prosecute or sanction violations of regulations on bunkering, and illegal exportation of petroleum products, PMS, specifically as it relates to the assignments of the JBP.”
The Coordinator said the Sector 2 success stories are not without sacrifices, some of which are life threatening adding that the officers have constantly been under threats, assaults and attacks; citing the most recent which he said occurred around Joforo Village in Owode – Apa suburb of Badagry on the 11th February, 2023.
“In December last year, an IVECO Truck with Registration details AGL 999 XZ, laden with iron rods and traveling towards Idiroko, overran and crushed our Patrol Base at Ajilete.
“In another attack launched on the JBP Teams in the Sector by smugglers and their sympathizers, we lost gallant and courageous operatives These are just a few amongst the sixteen (16) incidents recorded in the year 2022 alone.”
On the Team is Bashir Kabir, DSS Compol Commd, ACI US Abdulla, Immigration, SG Awala, Police, AC A Adamu Enforcement , CB Atinse (psc), AC Admin.
A goal getter with immense high sense of judgment, Hassan worked with a team of customs subordinates who not only understood the nature of their critical assignment but committed and ready to give their utmost best.
While Assistant Comptroller A. Adamu served as the OC Operation, the very resourceful and hardworking CSC Sabo was the OC Badagary Axis, with CSC MT Salisu holding forth as OC Idiroko, while CSC Abba is in charge of the Ijebu Ode Axis.
Just as Hassan believed and reposed implicit confidence on the entire team and relied mainly on ‘team spirit’ for successfully serving out his time, the team leaders in turn respectively distinguished themselves as efficient and dependable point’s men.