Strong indications emerged that the Western Marine Command of the Nigeria Customs Service may have been engulfed in an unending land grabbing scandals involving some officers of the command and some traditional rulers in the host communities.

Competent sources close to the command have hinted that at the creation of the command in 1970s, it had an expansive piece of land in excess of 10 acres, which has reduced to less than one acre due to unending cases of encroachment over time.

Meanwhile, in a quick response to the issue, Customs Area Controller in charge of the Western Marine Command, Comptroller Musa Sarkin-Kebbi, says the headquarters of the service has launched investigation into the matter with a view to determining the extent of the encroachment.

There are however fears that if not quickly addressed, this massive encroachment into the command’s operational base may forestall future expansion of the command, especially in terms of building training facilities for officers and men, which was the main reason the government acquire such expansive portion of land in the first place.

The sources disclosed that the encroachment on the land, which belongs to the Federal Government, began during the second republic when the Lagos State Government under Governor Lateef Jakande cut off a large part of the land to build a primary and secondary school in the area.

It was also gathered that the Ibru Group, an indigenous fishing importing firm was at a certain point alleged to have also converted part of the land for its business operations, which it later abandoned.

Investigations also show that many senior officers of the command, especially those that have been posted out of the command were fingered in this land grabbing saga, as it was alleged that some of them built commercial houses on the land while some sold the land and use the proceeds to buy land elsewhere.

Comptroller Sarkin-Kebbi, who spoke during a telephone conversation, admitted that there has been encroachment on the operational land of the Marine Command of the service not only in Lagos but also in Oyo and towards the Eastern Marine Command, a development that spans over 30-40 years.

He further disclosed that the management of the service has directed the Zonal Coordinator in charge of Zone A, Assistant Comptroller General Aminu Dahiru to investigate the matter and report back to the headquarters in Abuja.

The Comptroller however said he does not have any knowledge of the involvement of officers of the service whether past or present or traditional rulers as being alleged, insisting that having seen the original sketch of the land, he is sure that there have been encroachments over the years.

Available records show that the Marine Command of the Service, which consists of Eastern and Western Command, has its operational spread from Lagos, Warri in Delta State and Kebbi State.

When this anti-smuggling unit of the service was established in the early 1970s, its headquarters was located along the Ibafon Creek, adjacent to the Cocoanut area of Olodi-Apapa, Lagos, with a land mass of nearly ten acres, which sources say belonged originally to the Oluwa family of Olodi-Apapa.

It was further gathered that with time, the land mass has reduced drastically due to massive encroachments over the years.