Apapa Customs intercepts 40 containers of Tramadol imported from India …Also seizes two aircrafts concealed in export containers
Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (in caftan) inspecting some packs of the seized tramadol at the Lagos Ports Complex, Apapa, yesterday.
BY FRANCIS EZEM
The Nigeria Customs Service, Apapa Command in cooperation with the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control NAFDAC has intercepted 40 pieces of 40-foot containers laden with pharmaceutical substances suspected to be the prohibited tramadol and other healthcare products imported illegally from India with a Duty Paid Value DPV of N7.3billion.
Also seized by the command are two aircrafts; comprising one helicopter with registration number SN.BLI, laden in a container meant for export with registration number PONU7789246, which was falsely declared as 388 bags of cashew nuts and a Censa 182A aircraft imported from the United States of America and loaded in an export container with registration number MRKU 4457663.
Comptroller General of the service Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), who briefed newsmen on the seizures, also disclosed that importers of the 40 containers of tramadol offered officers and men on duty a whopping sum of N150million bribe to release just one out of the 40 containers, which they declined. This according to him was a demonstration of the fact that the service is not just making concerted efforts to ensure that only maximum revenue was collected but also to safeguard and ensure the security and wellbeing of Nigeria’s citizens.
He observed that everyone was aware of the grave danger posed by the deliberate non-compliance with import and export trade procedures to the Nigerian nation, as some importers bring in all manner of items, which can put the security of the country at great risk, since terrorists, kidnappers and other criminal elements get hold of such dangerous products such as controlled drugs to unleash mayhem on the country.
According to him, three suspects, among those that offered the officers the N150million bribe and one Customs officer have already been arrested and currently helping in the investigation of the matter, assuring that the on-going investigations would be thorough in order to bring those remotely connected to the illicit imports to justice.
“In their criminal desperation, importers of this regulated drug offered bribes to the tune of N150million to my officers to ensure the release of just one container with promises of even bigger sums to follow in the event that their first attempt succeeds.
“The service achieved this feat through the vigilance and intelligence gathering within the system as well as information from the NAFDAC, which is a very strong ally of the service. I commend the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye and her management team for their collaboration in the achievement of this feat”, the CG also said.
While commenting on the seizure of the two aircrafts, he noted that while the helicopter which was declared as 388 bags of cashew nuts contravened section 36 of the Customs and Excise Management Act CEMA C45 LFN 2004, the second aircraft with Single Goods Declaration SGD number C130308 of September 10, 2018 was seized because the owners failed to present End-User Certificate from the office of the National Security Adviser.
Other reasons for the seizure were because it contravened section 46 of CEMA 2004 as well as failure of the owners to present approval from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority NCAA, among other reasons.
The CG also said: “While seizures of dangerous drugs and aircrafts demonstrates Customs’ crucial contributions to national economic and security wellbeing, the rejection of N150million bribe, presents a picture of a reformed Customs Service, whose operatives are increasingly putting national interest above selves”
While commending the Customs Area Controller in charge of Apapa Command and officers and men of the command for their exemplary commitment to duty, he expressed appreciation to other collaborating partners both foreign and local for their support and cooperation, reiterated the readiness of the service to strengthen such bonds of collaboration in order to rid the nation of the menace of smuggling.