The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, retired Col. Hameed Ali, on Thursday said the Apapa command of the service intercepted 40 × 40ft containers of pharmaceutical products with Duty Paid Value of N7.31 billion.
Ali disclosed this while addressing newsmen in Lagos on intercepted pharmaceutical products, including tramadol.
According to him, the service is able to achieve the feat through vigilance and intelligence gathering within the system as well as information from the National Agency for Foods, Drug Administration and Control, a strong ally of the NCS.
He said: “I commend the Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye and her management team, for their collaboration in the attainment of the interception.
“It is indeed 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.
“In the criminal desperation, importers of these items offered bribes to the tune of N150 million to my officers to effect the release of just one 40ft container with promises of even bigger sums to follow in the event that their attempt succeeds.
“The officers played along and eventually arrested three suspects with the money.”
He reiterated that the ongoing interception of Tramadol and other pharmaceutical products with the bribe and the three suspects would be thoroughly investigated, to bring all those remotely connected to justice.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency recently uncovered 340 million Tramadol tablets in 12 containers at the Apapa Port in Lagos.
The tablets, which were in various dosages, ranged from 120 milligrammes to 250 milligrammes, were recovered from 12 containers at the Port.
The Comptroller-General said officers of the Apapa command and the Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, turned down $412,000 worth of bribe money offered them.
Ali said that Apapa command, within the same period, had also seized two aircraft, a helicopter with Registration number SN-BLI which was intended for export, in container number PONU7789246.
He said that it was falsely declared as 388 barges of cashew nuts, adding that the action violated section 36 of the Customs and Excise Management Act, Cap C45, LFN 2004 and investigation was ongoing to fish out the owner.
He explained that the second aircraft, a Cesena 182A imported from the US was declared through SGD NO. C130308.
He said it was seized because of the 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.
According to him, this is a contravention of Section 46 of CEMA, Cap C45, LPN 2004.
Ali expressed concern about the importation of tramadol and other illicit items which posed great risk to the security and health of Nigerians.
He said: “We are all aware of the dangers that the deliberate non-compliance with 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 uncustoms 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 making concerted efforts to ensure that maximum revenue is collected and also to safeguard the security and well-being of the citizenry.
“While the seizures of dangerous drugs and aircraft demonstrate NCS crucial contributions to national economy, security and well-being of Nigerians, the rejection of N150 million bribe presents a picture of a reformed NCS whose operatives are increasingly putting national interest above selves.”
He gave an assurance that investigation was ongoing to bring all those remotely connected to justice.
Ali also commended the Commander, NNS Beecroft Naval Base Apapa, Commodore Eyo as well as Commissioner of Police, Western Marine Command and his men for providing enabling environment.
He, however, commended the Customs Area Controllers of Apapa and the Federal Operation Units Zone ‘A’ as well as officers and men of the commands for their exemplary commitment to duty.
Ali urged the importers to embrace honest declaration to reduce time of cargo clearance and facilitate trade.