The Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has intercepted a 1/20ft container laden with 150 cartons of prohibited tramadol tablets.
The command also intercepted another container load of used clothes transiting to the Inland Container dry port in Kano.
Controller of the command, Comptroller Yusuf Malanta, while showcasing the seized items to journalists at Apapa port in Lagos on Friday said the drugs were falsely declared as Static converters and switches.
He gave a breakdown of the seized tramadol to include 69 and 81 cartons of 250mg respectively all laden in the container. According to him, “Each of the cartons contains 72 rolls and each roll contains 10 packets and each packet contains 10 sachets while each sachet has 10 tablets.”
The Customs boss said following credible intelligence received on the content of the cargo, the drugs were tracked from the port of loading in Singapore to Hong Kong and several ports of call to the port of destination in Apapa where it was intercepted by officers.
He warned that any illicit trade including drugs and any customs items imported through the Apapa port would be uncovered and perpetrators would face the full wrath of the law.
“This intelligence is mainly received due to the Service interdepartmental cooperation, collaboration and synergy within the government agencies in the port. We all know that we cannot do it alone to make the port a better place for legitimate trade to thrive.
“This is also to reiterate our resolve that any attempt to bring in drugs and any prohibited item through the Apapa port will be uncovered and the perpetrators of such acts shall be made to face the full wrath of the law.
“We are fully alert. The Comptroller General of Customs and his management team have given us the ICT structure with which we can track and trace illicit trade. So, if the unscrupulous importers are unrelented, then we are not asleep. We will continue to get them from where they are coming from to where they are going,” he said.
Comptroller Malanta said the command has launched a full investigation with a view to ascertain the worth of the drugs and identify the consignee for possible prosecution in connection with the unlawful importation.
“We are going into full investigation to determine the worth of the drugs because a declaration has not been put in. We don’t just want to take chances and later find out that the container has been transited. The moment we get the information, we will go straight to drop the container for examination and intercept it.
“However, we have a bill of lading, which is a cardinal point that there is a declaration and this is where we know there is a false declaration and that is why we trace the consignment. The product started from Singapore to Hong Kong to China. It had gone to about four ports of call before coming to Nigeria,” he said.
Speaking on the seizure of the used clothes, Comptroller Malanta said the command, acting on credible intelligence was able to track the container manifested as installation fitting materials.
“This container was supposed to be transited to Inland Container Depot in Kano and it was declared in the manifest as installation fitting materials. However, following credible intelligence, we stopped the container and dropped it for full physical examination and found out that it contained used clothing and this falls under outright seizure based on section 46, 47 of CEMA Cap 45 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We are going to investigate this issue through the manifest and declaration and ensure the culprits are brought to book,” he said.
Also speaking on the seized drugs, Commander of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Apapa port, Mr. Ameh Inalogwu, explained that the approved milligram for tramadol is 50 and 100 only for medical purposes while higher milligrams are prohibited.
“Legally, 50 to 100mg is permissible for medical reasons only. But when we begin to see 250mg like we have in this case it is a cause for concern,” he said.
He said the NDLEA would expedite the destruction of the drugs after obtaining permission from the court of law.