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Illicit drug import: Apapa Customs Command intercepts N1.5bn tramadol abandoned at port

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Apapa Area Command, has seized tramadol tablets and capsules valued at over one billion, five hundred million Naira (N1,560,000,000).

Briefing newsmen, the Customs Area Controller (CAC), Comptroller Yusuf Malanta Ibrahim, said that the consignment which were brought in from India, were falsely declared as chocolates and concealed with assorted candies and bubble gums.

He also disclosed that the consignment had been abandoned at the port in the last four months as the importer sensed that the consignment was being tracked.

His words: “We are here because of a container laden with illicit drugs. These drugs are more deadly than the normal tramadol. And you can imagine the kind of havoc it will cause if it has reached our society.

“You can agree with me that most of the criminal action taking place today in our society is with the aid of these kinds of drugs and therefore; whoever is importing these kinds of drugs, we are telling him today, our collaboration effort is fully informed and we cannot relent.

“The container has been in the port since July 3, moving from the port down to here (bonded terminal). The importer is trying to buy time to see whether he can undermine our operatives, but we are really on top of our game and will continue to be. If he is not tired of investing, we are also not going to be tired of making him lose his investments.

“The importer had cleverly concealed these drugs at the back end of the container just to undermine our operatives. We searched the container; we found out that there are 20 cartons of these kinds of drugs. Trapaking 225mg contains 838,500 tablets, while for Trapaking Caps 120mg, 90,010 capsules. We thank God for giving us the wisdom and zeal to be able to track it and make seizure because it contravenes section 46 and 47 of CEMA Cap C45, law of the federation of Nigeria.

“The country of origin of the drugs is India, and we have talked about our layers of control architectures apart from the collaboration and intelligence received, this is purely the work of the operatives and officers here in this command. And I don’t have to explain how we taught them to do this work, but I’m sure not only this terminal, other terminals in the port operate the same way, so there is no hiding place.

“With the help of our operatives and other agencies, we will trail this importer and make sure he is brought to book and treated accordingly.”

He, however, advised such importers to desist from these kind of importations, pointing out that apart from it being stimulus to criminal activities in the society, the drugs are also very harmful to the body.

“It is harmful to human being. If you know you can’t take it yourself, give your children or relatives, why do you have to destroy the life of other children? They are all your brothers and sisters”.

On if any arrest has been made in connection with the seizures, the CAC said that investigation is ongoing, with substantial amount of evidence and information about those involved.

The Controller expressed satisfaction at the success of the automated operations of the Customs, an approach he is certain would ease operations, boost trade and checkmate illicit drug importations.

He said, “CGC has initiated the E-custom modernisation which is a complete automation of custom business processes, and this begins even from the port of loading where a manifest will explain right from the port of loading to the port of destination and that will show the content of the cargo; and we believe with the introduction of that application, not only drugs, any other illicit importation will be tracked.

“Not only that, last week, the CGC and the Minister of Finance lunched the line scanners and we will soon start pre-scanning operations, that is, scanning at the seaside; where even containers going off dock terminal will be scanned, remote image will be analysed, stored; and anytime you make a declaration, it will reveal the item you have in your system. We believe that with this kind of automation and trade facilitation apparatus, we are sure that things will fall in the right place.”

Speaking also, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Commander, Apapa Special Area Command, Ishiaku  Kwajaffa, while describing the collaboration between the anti-narcotic agency and the Apapa Customs as “very excellent,” warned against the importation of such dangerous drugs  into the country.

He noted that though the profits from such dealings encourage perpetrators to continue, the NDLEA would always be ready to tackle them in the face of their act, considering the agency’s preparedness with its well-trained operators.

Kwajafa said that the seized drug ‘Tepintedol’ a brand of Tramadol is about three times higher in potency than the 120mg written on the pack.

Giving a breakdown of the quantity and street value, he said: “We have here about 800,500 tablets and the 90,000 capsules. The current street value is about N1,560,000,000 for this 20 cartons; each carton goes for about N78 million. It might tend to go up because of the pressure we are putting on them, so it’s going to be so scarce. Just like in economics, the lower the supply, the higher the demand and price; so we are ready for them.”

He warned perpetrators of illicit drug imports and advised that they sought other legitimate businesses for their own good.




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