Civic Group, RULAAC Petitions Nigerian Customs’ Comptroller-General Over Personnel’s Abuse Of Power, Illegal Seizure Of Cars In Lagos

A civic organisation, the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has petitioned the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hammed Ibrahim Ali (rtd) over an abusive conduct exhibited by a senior customs officer, Umar Shinkafi.

According to the petition, Shinkafi connived with a Nigerian Navy officer, Bala to oppress one Mr Emeka Izuagba, a car dealer by seizing two of his cars that were meant to be sold.

 Mr Izuagba had reported to RULAAC that he had been owing Shinkafi a sum of N3million through dealership of a car, but despite the agreement to pay back which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was aware of, Shinkafi sent Bala to seize two of the dealer’s cars.

All these were revealed in the petition signed by RULAAC Executive Director, Okechukwu Nwanguma, which was obtained by SaharaReporters on Thursday.

Nwaguma also copied the Chief of Naval Staff in the petition, which is titled, “Abuse of Power and Oppressive Conduct Unbecoming of a Senior Customs Officer.”

The petition partly reads, “Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) writes to respectfully request your intervention in the alleged abuse of power and oppressive conduct by one of your senior officers, Umar Yusuf Shinkafi, who, as at the time of the incident, was attached to the customs Ikeja headquarters against a helpless citizen, Mr. Emeka Izuagba, aided by a senior Naval Officer identified as Balla of Satellite Town Naval Base, Lagos.

 “Mr Emeka Izuagba informed RULAAC as follows: That he is a car dealer with a car stand situate at Plot 8/9 Unity Bus Stop LASU/Igando road, Lagos, and that sometime in April 2021, his friend Mr. Umar Shinkafi, a Customs Officer attached to the Ikeja headquarters of the Nigeria Customs, asked him to buy an American spec car for him and then transferred to him the sum of 3 million Naira only for that purpose.

“That 2 weeks after the customs officer gave him the 3million Naira, he called him and said he was no longer interested in the car and demanded a refund of the money. That he told him that he had already made the order for the car and used the money for the agreed purpose. That Mr. Shinkafi wrote a petition to EFCC alleging that he defrauded him.

“That when he was invited and went to EFCC at Ikoyi on June 15, he explained to the operatives what happened and they asked him when he intended to pay back the money to Mr. Shinkafi and he told them that he would pay back at the end of August 2021. That they asked him to give them a reasonable time and he then, out of fear of being detained, gave them July ending and it was agreed.

“That on Friday, July 16, 2021 – about 2 weeks to the agreed period for the refund, Mr Umar Shikafi the customs officer procured the help of his friend a naval officer simply identified as Balla who sent 6 men from Navy barracks Satellite Town, Lagos to his car stand while he was away.

“That the men sent by the Naval Officer, pretending to be customers who came to buy cars, requested for 3 cars ostensibly for their Salah festival and eventually selected 3 cars- a Sienna, a Toyota Sienna LE 2009 model and ES 350 Lexus 2012 model.

“They requested to drive the 3 cars to their Naval base and make payment when they get to their base and after their superior officer who sent them would have confirmed that he likes any of the cars. That he assigned drivers who drove the cars to the Navy barracks.

“That upon arriving at the Navy barracks, the naval personnel collected the car keys and documents from the drivers and asked them to wait for their senior officer to come and approve payment for any of the cars.

“That after a while, Customs Officer Umar Shinkafi appeared and showed them a photograph and asked if they knew the person in the photograph and they said it was Emeka Izuagba, and he told them that he was owing him and that he was the one who ordered his junior personnel to go and impound the cars, and ordered them out of the naval base.

“That later on the same day, the naval officer returned one of the 3 cars – the Sienna and held back on to 2- the Toyota Sienna LE 2009 model and ES 350 Lexus 2012 model.

“That when he went to see the senior naval officer at navy barracks, he saw only the Lexus bearing a ‘fake’ registration number. The Naval Officer later on November 3 – about 4 months later, released the Lexus and said nothing about the Sienna.

“That he called Mr Shinkafi the customs officer and inquired about the Sienna and he rained curses on him, told him he was mad and threatened that he will show him that he has upper hands over him as far as Nigeria is concerned. He forwarded to us one of the messages he received from Mr Shinkafi which reads “U don’t even know what u are doing at all, and u will know me by power I will show u who am I by every thing power wait and see d results, from Abuja Headquarters give him”.

 “That within the period, he had already started paying back the money to Mr Shinkafi and had paid him an initial 1 million Naira on the 2nd of August, 2021, and that the owner of the Sienna, one Mr. Osita Nnaka Ihe, has been on his neck demanding to have his car back.

 “That he considers the actions of Customs Officer Umar Shinkafi as amounting to an interference with a pending investigation by the EFCC, resort to self-help and abuse of power by procuring the help of his friend, senior Naval Officer Bala of satellite town naval base to dispatch naval officers to his car stand to impound cars on sale many of which do not belong to him even after he reported him at EFCC and two weeks before the deadline he was given by EFCC to refund his money.

 “That he demands that both customs officer Umar Shinkafi and Navy officer Bala of Satellite Town naval base be called to order by the authorities of their various agencies and prevail on them to return his car and allow due process to prevail.”

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