*The Gowon Connection
OrderPaperToday – The ongoing massive shake-up in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is partly a fall-out from the shocking discovery of mind-blowing wealth including cash in banks traceable to senior officers some of whom were affected in the voluntary and forced retirement announced a few days ago.
Orderpaper.ng sources informed that prior to the voluntary retirement of the immediate past Comptroller-General, Inde Abdullahi Dikko, the President had begun to shop for his replacement from among the ranks of senior officers of the service. It was in this regard that former military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon had approached President Muhammadu Buhari to recommend an officer of Plateau State origin (name withheld) for the top job.
According to the source, a due diligence was ordered on the officer, who was then serving in a top managerial position in the South-east part of the country, to determine his suitability within the anti-corruption posture of the new administration. The results of the diligence revealed shocking discoveries about his finances as huge amounts of wealth were traceable to him.
“Billions of naira was found in some bank accounts with links to him and these are sums which could not be explained by regular income of the officer and when Gen. Gowon was confronted with the shocking find, he felt embarrassed and simply withdrew his recommendation of the officer,” said the source.
It was at this point it became evident to President Buhari that salvation for the NCS considered by many as a cesspool of corruption could not come from inside the service which is why he opted for someone outside the system in the person of Col. Hameed Ali to get in and cleanse the service and redeem it from corruption.
“What you are seeing now in terms of the massive shake-up is part of the assignment Ali was brought in to perform,” said another source familiar with goings-on in the Customs service, adding that the voluntary retirement of the five Deputy Comptrollers-General was pre-emptive as “they know the fate that was going to before them soon if they did not act in a manner to save face. In fact, some of these officers know they are being probed or watch-listed and trouble may yet lie ahead in spite of their disengagement from the service.”
Recall that the DCGs only last week turned in their letters of resignation from the NCS and barely 24 hours after, the authorities announced the retirement of some 29 senior officers in a terse statement.
The five DCGs who voluntarily retired are: John Atte (who acted as CG when Dikko voluntarily retired in August), Austin Nwosu, Musa Tahir, Ibrahim Mera and Adewumi Akinade. The forced exit affected three Assistant Comptrollers-General (ACGs) including Bello Liman, Madu Mohammed and Victor Gbemudu while others are of the rank of Comptrollers.
While a statement by Customs Public Relations Officer, Mr. Wale Adeniyi said “the retirements were part of measures to kick-start the repositioning of the Service for improved performance,” the developments are targeted towards weeding out corrupt officers from the service as part of the mandate given to Ali.
Reported on Nov. 1, 2015