Customs money seizure and reward for excellence
For a country whose citizens are used to the news and stories of corruption and graft in government agencies, the news of the seizure of $8,065,612 cash by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) last month must have come as a surprise. This is more so when the feat is coming from an agency that has come to be associated with corruption over time.
The MMIA Area Command of the NCS had on January 16, 2020, intercepted and seized the money at the E-Wing of the international airport tarmac just as it was about to be loaded into an aircraft. Working on a tipoff, the Customs officers had swooped on the bus belonging to the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) conveying the money to make the seizure. The over $8 million cash was concealed in 20 sacks.
Thereafter, on Saturday 18th January 2020, an inventory of the seized item was taken with the representatives of the Directorate of State Security (DSS), Customs Intelligence Unit, Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Unit, Customs, Police, and with the arrested suspect present.
“At the end of the inventory, a total number of 20 sealed wraps of sacks were opened, counted, re-sealed and re-wrapped under video coverage from the beginning of the exercise to the end, and the total amount intercepted stood at $8,065,612 only. The consignment remains in safe custody while preliminary investigations have commenced on the seizures,” the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali had told journalists.
That the ‘inventory’ was taken in the presence of other agencies and the suspect showed the level of transparency and integrity displayed by the Customs in handling the money. We commend this action, which speaks eloquently of the honesty of the MMIA Customs Command under Comptroller Wale Adeniyi. The action effectively puts paid to any attempt by the owner of the money or anyone to turn round and claim any figure above what was counted, in a bid to rubbish the integrity of Customs officers.
For this feat, and for boosting the image of the Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Wale Adeniyi has been promoted to the rank of Assistant Comptroller-General (ACG). The elevation was announced last week by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali. While announcing the promotion and redeployment to Customs Command and Staff College, Gwagwalada, Abuja, as the Commandant of the College, Ali commended Adeniyi and his team for their due diligence, saying that their act of patriotism is an indication of a reformed Customs whose operatives are increasingly putting national interest above self.
We highly congratulate ACG Wale Adeniyi on the latest promotion and elevation. We commend him for doing his organization proud. All these years, Wale Adeniyi has been focused on creating an unimpeachable image for the Nigeria Customs Service. An amiable and seasoned public relations expert, he remains the longest serving Customs image maker. During his days as the Customs Public Relations Officer, he served so creditably well that more than five Comptrollers-General that headed the Service all retained him in quick succession.
While we felicitate with him, we enjoin other officers of the service to follow the worthy example of ACG Wale Adeniyi in the discharge of their duties. With enough diligent and honest officers like Adeniyi in the NCS, the image of Customs to the average Nigerian is bound to change. We hope that his successor, Comptroller M. Maaji, will maintain, if not, surpass the enviable record created by Adeniyi at the MMIA Customs Command within a space of six months.
We also commend the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, for promptly recognizing and rewarding hard work, honesty and diligence. No doubt, this will serve to remind other officers, especially the junior and upcoming ones that hard work and honesty still remain impeccable virtues that will always pay.