The Nigeria Customs Service yesterday displayed 40 containers loaded with Tramadol and other pharmaceutical products worth N7.3 billion imported from India.
The NCS also said it seized two aircraft, a helicopter with registration number SN-BLI which was intended for export but was falsely declared as 388 bags of cashew nuts. LEADERSHIP recalls that the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) had last week uncovered 340 million Tramadol tablets in 12 containers at the Apapa port in Lagos.
The tablets which were in various dosages ranging from 120 milligrams to 250 milligrams were recovered from 12 containers at the Apapa port. Addressing journalists in Lagos yesterday, Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali, said the officers of the command and the Federal Operation Unit (FOU), Zone A turned down $412,000 worth of bribe money to the officers.
He explained that the second aircraft, a Cesena 182A imported from the United States of America (USA), which was declared through SGD NO. C130308, was seized because of failure of the owners to present End User Certificate from the office of the National Security Officer and approval from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority.
This, according to him, is in contravention of Section 46 of CEMA, CapC45, LPN 2004. Ali expressed concern over the importation of Tramadol and other illicit items which according to him pose great risk to the security and health of the nation.
“We are all aware of the dangers that the deliberate non-compliance to import and export procedures pose to our nation as importers bring in all manner of items which put the security and health of the nation at great risk. Terrorists, kidnappers and other criminal elements get hold of these goods such as controlled drugs to perpetrate their heinous activities.
“It is worrisome to note that there are Nigerians who are ready to make money at the expense of human lives by bringing in such quantity of drugs that have grave consequences on health and national security. The Service is not making concerted efforts to ensure that only maximum revenue is collected, but also to safeguard the security and well-being of the citizenry,” he said.
The Customs boss explained that importers of the tramadol offered bribes to the tune of N150million to officers to effect the release of just one container with promises of even bigger sums to follow in the event that, their first attempt succeeds but the officers played along and eventually arrested three suspects with the money.
Ali commended the director-general of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) whose collaboration with customs, according to him, led to the seizures of the containers. He assured that investigation is on-going to bring all those remotely connected to justice.