* CGC Ali pitched against Abba-Kura
There is a raging drug war between the Nigeria Customs Service(NCS) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency(NDLEA) in Nigerian ports since February 2021, but it is assuming a dimension that it is now generating a serious cause for concern for the leadership of NCS who believe that it forebodes disaster for both agencies.
MMS Plus gathered that the officials of NDLEA who have been on vengeance mission have sworn to take their pound of flesh over what they described an unprovoked aggression by the officers of NCS against their men.
Our findings further show that the usual inter-agency rivalry between the two government agencies degenerated to a simmering rift with each trying to outdo the other following the mismanaged counter claims of interception of a container load of Tramadol in Apapa port in February,2021.
Recall that a mild drama had ensued between NCS and NDLEA officials over who actually first intercepted the container load of Tramadol in Apapa in February, 2021. While the Customs Area Controller of Apapa Customs Command, Compt. Yusuf Malanta was briefing the maritime press on the seizure in Apapa, NDLEA was in Ikeja, Lagos briefing Crime Reporters on the same seizure. In their briefings, they both laid claims to the intelligence that uncovered the container laden with illicit drug.
This controversy did not go down well with either of the agencies as it had sown the seed of suspicion and discord between them afterwards despite a later reconciliatory meeting.
MMS Plus gathered the agencies collided midway while trying to outsmart each other in the game of proof of performance to their superiors. But NDLEA, according to inside sources, felt betrayed by NCS,with whom they had shared secrets and intelligence before.
With the battleline drawn, NDLEA went on rampage, raiding warehouses of drug merchants in Lagos and other states and carting away consignment imported into the country in 2019 and released by NCS without any form of query.
According to our source, Mr. Afam Mallinson Ukatu, who was linked to a N3billion Tramadol seizure in Ikeja happens to be one of the victims of the raging war between the agencies at the ports.
The source further alleged that with the retroactive seizures ongoing now, NDLEA is targeting all previously released drug related cargoes. With this development, there is a serious unease in the Customs service as it is feared that past CACs in Apapa might be needed to explain how the drugs found their ways to their various warehouses.
Consequently, MMS Plus gathered that the immediate past Apapa CAC, ACG Mohammed Abba-Kura, who is now the ACG headquarters, is having a strained relationship with the Comptroller General of Customs(CGC), Col. Hammed Ali over some discoveries by NDLEA and his alleged plan to succeed him.
Malanta, who assumed office as Apapa CAC in February, 2021, did not go fishing for trouble in the nest of NDLEA but only deployed his men, one of which is now Comptroller Tunde Olomu, who busted the Tramadol syndicate in Apapa while heading enforcement unit.
Meanwhile, MMS Plus findings revealed that Tramadol and other associated drugs has huge market in Nigeria that some bonded terminal operators offer specialized cargo delivery services to importers with the NDLEA, Customs, among other port agencies approving releases at the terminal.
The bonded terminal operators collect a clearing fee of between N100 and N150 million Naira to clear a 40ft container of Tramadol.