The Seme Command of the Nigeria Customs Service,(NCS), notwithstanding the harsh dwindling economic activities and global recession was able to generate and remit into the federation account N6billion between January and December 2016,according to the commands top management.
The amount ,according to its Public Relations Officer, Selechang Taupyen was generated by the command within twelve months of assumption of office by Comptroller Victor Dimka and significantly saw the commands revenue shored up for the better following new and far reaching innovations introduced to fight and curb smuggling activities along the Seme border/ Badagry axis.
As part of the figures breakdown, the command between January and April realized N3.2billion; N695.2million in June; N1.1billion in September; intercepted 12 trucks load of 2,131bags of rice.
Immediately on assumption of office in January 2015, Comptroller Dimka through his strength of commitment to selfless service, diligence, sincerity, sheer guts and phenomenal pace of work swung into action dismantling all the roadblocks that hitherto dorned the roads from Lagos to Seme wherein customs officers and men were believed to be merely involved in checking for their own pockets, thereby circumventing generation of revenue into government coffers.
Justifying his directive for a disbandment of all such roadblocks, Dimka retained only two of the checkpoints and promptly gave a marching order for officers and men to be posted to bush paths through which smugglers operated mostly and this order in no short time paid off as the officers and men of the command soon became spurred to always burst the rings of smugglers and their tricks no matter how sophisticated compared to the practice before.
Popularly referred to as “Mr no nonsense” amongst his peers and colleagues within the Customs circle, Dimka in redefining the process of chasing and subduing smugglers within the command to a standstill and bringing enforcement to such a glorious level immediately also stopped a situation whereby officers and men of the customs who brought in vehicles for their personal use must compulsorily pay the government fixed tariff on such vehicles.
To change the hitherto mode of operation and status quo in the command in order to boost revenue generation, Comptroller Dimka set up a Customs Community Consultative Forum,(CCCF) to interact with the host communities, the Border Security agencies, the critical stakeholders, opinion leaders and youths of the entire communities to foster mutual understanding with a view to ensuring peaceful working atmosphere for officers and men of the service.
DIMKA’S HOLISTIC MEASURES.
This holistic approach was also meant to stem the incessant conflicts between custom officials and civilians in the performance of their duties in the past, which sometimes resulted in death of people.
Added to these measures was visits by the top management team members of the customs to heads of other security agencies to solicit their collaboration in the task of fighting smuggling to a standstill.
Speaking to the media during one of the press conferences organized by the management of the command,Comptroller Victor Dimka had for example noted that; “when my team and I assumed duty, we immediately resolved that we must lead by example hence the business as usual style must stop, so our zero tolerance stance in tandem with that of our present CGC, Col Hameed Ali ( rtd) to smuggling and all vices inimical to the development and growth of the nations economy became heightened.
“Also because I am someone who believes that if something is wrong ,someone has to put it right, that is what exactly my team and I are doing right currently in our command. When for example, you look at what smuggling and non remittance of correct duties and revenue payable on imported goods does to the economy of any nation and its people, gentlemen of the press, you will agree with me that what we are doing presently in this part of the country as customs personnel is worth it, so we shall not succumb to nor be deterred by any blackmail no matter the quarters it may come from”,Dimka had declared.
On the efforts of the command towards the suppression of smuggling, the CAC had for example recently told a visiting team of senators to the command that a total of 700 items valued at more than N300 million were seized from smugglers using the border as their route ,listing the items involved as used vehicles, vegetable oil, 13,000 bags of 50kg smuggled parboiled imported rice, second-hand clothing and bullet-proof vehicles”.
He stressed that the command’s officers and men were very much alive to their responsibilities of bursting smuggling activities in and around Seme border, but lamented that the command was currently operating at 30 per cent capacity due to certain factors beyond their control.
“Even as we have continued to make these seizures, we know that it is not yet uhuru for us in this fight against smugglers ,but with commitment to our CGC’s vision, courage and painstaking work and discipline by our rank and file, I am confident and looking forward to a future of greatness for our country by the time our present aggressive onslaught against these enemies of our economy and nation peaks in line with the dream of our current President Muhammadu Buhari,” Comptroller Dimka posited.
SENATE COMMITTEE ON FACT FINDING VISIT.
Comptroller Dimka who is optimistic that his command could soar to an enviable height in terms of revenue generation ,seized the opportunity of the visit of the Hope Uzodinma led Senate Committee to appeal to the Senate to help the command surmount its operational challenges such as lack of adequate electricity, which was hampering the smooth operations of the scanners .
Other challenges Comptroller Dimka put before the Senate to be resolved for optimal performance of the Seme Command are lack of barrack for men and officers which has pitched the officials living in rented apartment alongside smugglers and non-availability of an examination bay is hindering our operations as a border command”, he stated.
Senator Uzodinma, Chairman of the Committee had earlier in his address during the visit told management of the border Command that they were in the vicinity to carry out their statutory oversight function to the Customs aimed at increasing the revenue from the service from non-oil sector especially with the aim of rescuing Nigeria from the economic recession we have found ourselves in.
The Senator Uzodinma led Committee had noted that he Nigeria Customs Service should be able to generate the needed revenue for the country, but lamented that they are not doing hence their visit to enable them to know what is hindering the service from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to Nigeria.
He then assured that if there is anything the Senate can do to rectify such hindrances, they will not hesitate to do as Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.