Customs officers allegedly sell government property to community

Customs officers allegedly sell government property to community

Thursday, January 25, 2018 3:49 pm

Customs premises

Customs property

Esther Komlafe-Hassan

The Western Marine Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has its operational spread between Kebbi State and Warri in Delta State.

A land mass of nearly ten acres was allocated to this anti-smuggling unit of customs established in the early 1970s with its headquarters located along Ibafon Creek, adjacent to Coconut Area of Olodi-Apapa, Lagos. Sources said the land was initially owned by the Oluwa family of Olodi-Apapa.

Sources accused corrupt officers serving at the command of unlawfully selling the land to encroachers.

The land harbouring the headquarters of the customs command has shrunk. There is high-level encroachment into the customs’ land by residents living in the area.

History of encroachment on this land belonging to the federal government began when the Lagos State government under Lateef Jakande took some parts of it and established primary and secondary schools. Ibru Group was also said to have operated on the land but later abandoned it.

Investigation revealed that some of the officers linked to the racket have built houses on the land, rented them out while some of those who declined building houses on the ‘stolen’ land took cash paid them and took transfer out of the command.

Observers said those who had a hand in the illicit deal ensured that the current fence in the area came too close to government buildings and thereby allow more space for their commercial ventures.

Observers said its size is now less than even an acre. Besides customs personnel accused of selling the land, land speculators operating in the area, including the Baales were equally accused of being part of the racket.

All efforts to speak with the Baales was futile as he was absent during enquiry but palace sources who spoke on condition of anonymity blamed the development on customs leadership that feigned ignorant of such unlawful activity, and hence encouraged encroachment on the government property.

The Customs Comptroller in-charge of the command, Musa Sarkin-Kebbi, was not in office when his view was sought by reporters. But he was said to have on assumption of office, recently received marching order from the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali, to unravel brains behind the sale of customs’

The WMC’s Spokesman, Assistant Superintendent of Customs E. Tangwa, who confirmed that his boss is currently looking into the development told journalists that investigation was yet to reveal whether parts of the land encroached upon belonged to serving customs personnel.

He declined further comments on the issue but vowed that Comptroller Sarkin-kebbi would leave no stone unturned to ensure the recovery of government property at the conclusion of his investigation into the matter.

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