At last, the tenure of the Comptroller-General, CG, of the Nigeria Customs Service, Dikko Inde Abdullahi, adjudged to be the most controversial in the agency, has come to an end.
Information at the disposal of Nigerian Pilot showed that Dikko ought to leave office on August 18, 2014, but has remained in office under a questionable renewal of his tenure.
And to save the Federal Government from further embarrassment over Dikko’s tenure, President Muhammadu Buhari is said to have initiated plans to replace him as soon as possible.
Dikko was appointed CG of Nigeria Customs Service, NCS on August 9, 2009 by the late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua, for a four-year term which elapsed on August 18, 2013 and since then, the Katsina-born officer has remained in office following unconfirmed reports that he was given a two-year lifeline by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
By implication, the extension will elapse in two weeks time except President Buhari again elongates it for another two years, which official sources said “is highly unlikely to happen.”
Nigerian Pilot learnt that the Presidency has started the process of easing Dikko out of office. This revelation will however come as a surprise to Nigerians who are privy to the claims that Dikko contributed a substantial sum of money to the Buhari Campaign Organisation, an action expected to keep him in the President’s good books.
It was gathered that Buhari was reluctant to receive any contributions from Dikko but his associates intervened and after the presidential election, he had shunned the NCS boss.
After his first term of four years expired in August 2013, Dikko was alleged to have made frantic efforts to retain his plum job, including endearing himself to the First Family at the time and currying favours and sentiments from senior officers he selectively promoted in the Service.
Dikko’s actions did not go unnoticed as close watchers of the sector called for his removal, accusing him of financial misappropriation, high-handedness and favouritism.
In spite of the clamour for Dikko’s removal, he waxed stronger and told anyone who cared to listen that he would remain the Comptroller-General as long as Jonathan was in office.
Not to take anything away from the man, Dikko’s administration started off on a sound footing, improving the welfare of officers and men of the Service and developing capacity and increasing revenues collected. He however lost his way due to his unchecked powers and the lush funds at his disposal.
An investigation into Dikko’s lifestyle in office revealed that he spends more than two-thirds of a year on overseas’ trips, practically converting the Customs# private jet into personal use.
Sources said that Buhari has so far rebuffed all attempts CGC DIkko had made to have audience with him. This is in spite of Dikko’s huge financial donations to the Buhari Campaign Organisation during the last presidential elections. President Buhari has never hidden his disdain for Dikko’s flamboyant lifestyle, coupled with his knowledge of the rot in the Customs under Dikko’s watch.
Our sources say even before his emergence as President, Buhari had wondered how such high-profile scandals in the Customs could go unnoticed by the Jonathan administration in the face of all the daily infractions in terms of huge bribes by the importing community, inflated contracts and flagrant disregard for anti-smuggling laws which may have paved the way for the influx of arms and ammunition fuelling the war against insurgency and violent crimes such as armed robbery, political assassinations and high-profile kidnappings.
• President Buhari has allegedly had personal scores to settle with Dikko. For instance, when in 2013 he hosted the CGs’ conference in Katsina State, he invited all the past Presidents and Heads of State, except PMB.
• Dikko was also said to have worked against Buhari in the 2007 and 2011 elections.
• Dikko was said not to have paid a condolence visit when Buhari lost his daughter.
• When a childhood friend of the President, Comptroller Jamo, was going to be prematurely retired a couple of years ago, he was said to have requested Dikko to spare Jamo, but Dikko refused.
His coming replacement
Knowing that his time is up, Dikko is said to be lobbying for one of his Deputy Comptrollers- General (DCGs) from the North-East to succeed him. He allegedly met a brick wall at the Presidency.
Nigerian Pilot recalls that prior to the 2015 polls, Dikko allegedly boasted that he had been able to secure from the All Progressives Congress, APC presidential candidate, a promise that should he win the Presidency, the office of the CG will never go to the South even when he, Dikko, leaves office.
During the last Sallah, Dikko allegedly made further moves to pay the President a Sallah visit, but Buhari purportedly insisted that he would have nothing to do with him, our sources said.
Meanwhile, there is growing dissent among top politicians and concerned stakeholders over Dikko’s perpetuation in office since his official tenure as CG ended in August 2013. According to our sources, Dikko, who is believed to be banking on assurances by some powerful interests, is said to be recently plagued by the numerous petitions forwarded to the Presidency against him.
For instance, last week, a pressure group, the Nigeria Customs Transparency Initiative, NCTI, dragged the Customs boss before the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, urging it to among others, probe Dikko over allegations of abuse of office.
In its prayer, the NCTI called on the leadership of the Customs to account for the alleged disappearance of some containers and the N3.5billion incurred on the installation of internet facilities by the Service. Other allegations levelled against Dikko included the manipulation of promotions, highhandedness, inflation of procurement bills, as well as selective postings to juicy positions nationwide.
“As PMB continues to keep Nigerians guessing what his next move will be, one thing is certain: Dikko will not play any part in the new administration as Mr. President has vowed not to work with corrupt individuals, no matter the part of the country they come from.
“The plethora of litigations against the outgoing Customs chief is an indictment on his integrity thus rendering him ineligible to serve on the infallible team PMB is said to be recruiting to fulfil the task of ridding Nigeria of corruption and attaining a status befitting of our country,” a Presidency source said.
Another source at Customs House, Abuja added that: “If I were in his (Dikko’s) shoes, I will resign before I am disgraced out of office. A long list of sins has been compiled against Dikko and it will be a surprise if he does not become a guest of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, after his removal from office. Never in the history of the Civil Service has one person become stupendously wealthy in a space of six years,” he stated.