FG to adopt diplomatic approach with India over Tramadol imports
BY FRANCIS EZEM
There are fresh indications that the Federal Government may engage the Indian government in diplomatic discussions over the recent illegal importation of large consignments of 225mg of the dangerous Tramadol Hydrochloride from the country, which is under absolute prohibition in Nigeria.
The Tin Can Island Port Command of the Nigeria Customs Service had earlier in the week intercepted two consignments of the drug comprising one 40-foot and another 20-foot containers falsely declared on the shipping manifest as electrical static converters and Ciprofloxacine imported from India.
The interception of the consignment followed intelligence review carried by operatives of the command alongside officers of the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control NAFDAC and those of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency NDLEA, both of which confirmed that the drug was harmful to the citizens.
Meanwhile the decision of the Federal Government to address these issues using diplomatic channels, Business and Transport learnt, was informed by the fact that the drug, which does not have the name of the manufacturer, was specifically marked for export, without the name of the manufacturer, an indication that many other consignments may soon arrive the country.
It was further gathered that the government, which is also currently battling with the influx and abuse of codeine and other similar harmful drugs and would therefore not want to be further distracted with illegal importation of Tramadol from India or any other country for that matter.
Customs Area Controller in charge of the command, Comptroller Abdullahi Musa, had while briefing newsmen on the interception of the drugs and other prohibited items, expressed worries at the likely negative effects such volume of drugs would have done to the Nigerian youths, if they were allowed to get into the country.
He had also hinted that the service might likely adopt diplomatic approach to handling the situation with a view to ensuring that governments of Nigeria and India, both countries, which are trade partners, are officially aware of the development and to handle same at the highest levels of government, even as one suspect arrested in connection with the illegal imports is currently helping the service in the investigations.
Investigations however show that as a first step, the Federal Government would invite the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, H.E.B.N. Reddy for official briefing that might lead to a meeting between top officials of both governments.
Sources further disclosed that if any other consignment of such drug or any prohibited item from India is detected at any of the nation’s seaports after the initial briefing with the High Commissioner, the Nigerian government may be left with the only option of seeking audience with top officials of the Indian government.
Recall that the Federal Government had adopted a similar diplomatic approach following the repeated cases of smuggling of Jojefa pump action guns from Turkey into Nigeria, which it observed was very dangerous, given the already delicate security situation in the country.
This was sequel to the seizure of consignments of arms from Turkey comprising a total of 470 assorted types of pump action riffles illegally imported into the country through the Tin Can Island Port Apapa less than 10 days after 1, 100 units of pump action riffles through the same port were intercepted.
Comptroller General of the Service, Col. Hameed Ali, had travelled in company of President Muhammadu Buhari last year where they held talks with the Turkish authorities over the influx of illegal arms into Nigeria from Turkey and since then, no such consignment has been intercepted at any of the nation’s seaports.