Operatives of the Nigerian Customs Service in Niger State has impounded a trailer carrying tramadol and other substances suspected to be illicit drugs worth about Forty-Four Million Naira (N44,000,000).
The trailer carrying the items was intercepted by the service’ special strike force along Minna-Suleja-Minna road.
They were concealed under sacks and other items.
Briefing journalists on the seizure and other seizures made, at the Nigerian customs service command headquarters in Minna, the national coordinator of the strike force, Deputy Comptroller of Customs, Abdullahi Kirawa said but for the eagle eye of men and officers in his team, the items would have made their way into the society, pointing out what dangers they could pose to the society.
He said one person has been arrested in connection to the items and that investigation is still ongoing to unravel other culprits.
Mr Kirawa called on members of the public to cooperate with the Nigerian customs service and to be vigilant to report any smuggling activities around them.
The Customs Service strike force coordinator also took members of the press around the warehouse of the showcase other items seized by the team, which include seven hundred and thirty-three bags of foreign rice, eighteen bales of used clothing, vehicles and used tires illegally being smuggled into the country through various routes.
A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the destruction of tramadol loaded in 14 containers, which was confiscated at the Apapa Wharf in Lagos, by the Nigerian Customs Services (NCS).
The court presided over by Justice Saliu Saidu on Tuesday gave the order while granting an exparte application filed by the NCS’s lawyer, Mr Ogunlowo Bisi.
The application was brought pursuant to Order 26, Rule 8(1) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) rules 2009 and the provisions of Sections 167 and 169(1)of the Nigeria Customs Services Management Act of 2004.
The Customs Services had asked the court to authorize the destruction of the content of all 14 containers.
After listening to the submission of the Customs’ lawyer, Justice Saidu granted the application.
An affidavit in support of the exparte application deposed to by Dabaj U. H, an Assistant Comptroller of Customs (AC) and an Officer in Legal Section Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Services, stated that in the course of effecting the assigned role and carrying out their official duties, Customs personnel particularly between February 20th, 2018 and 28th September 2018, intercepted and apprehended from smugglers all the goods contained in the 14 containers.
The deponent stated that the owners and importers committed acts of fraudulent evasion of Customs duty, concealment or goods and/or outright act of smuggling of goods into Nigeria as a result of which they were accosted but escaped, thereby abandoning the goods for fear of being arrested and prosecuted by the Customs Authority.
He also stated that apart from acts of smuggling, fraudulent evasion of duty, some of the defaulters brought in outright unlawful and prohibited items, which are so classified by the Customs Law and Provisions.
The affidavit also noted that since the dates of seizure of the said drug, nobody has come forward to claim ownership of it.
The court was, therefore, urged to grant the application in the interest of justice as refusal will certainly aggravate the deterioration of the said Tramadol and thereby constitute serious health problems and environmental hazards to the people at the Ports and ultimately to the detriment of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Nigerian Customs says it has impounded 59 containers of tramadol between Lagos and Rivers State in the last one month.
Deputy Comptroller-General in charge of Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection of Customs, Augustine Chidi, stated this on Monday during a press conference at Area 2 Command in Onne Port, Rivers State.
He said, “They are under seizure of 9 by 40 containers of Tramadol and other controlled pain-killer drugs with a duty-paid value of N3.06 billion. These 9 containers were falsely declared as containers containing PVC bulb valves and general merchandise goods.
“But upon diligent profiling of the exporter in the country of origin India, there was reasonable suspicion that eventually led to the discovery of the dreaded drugs.”
According to the Customs boss, the offence contravened Section 46 of Customs and Excise Act, CAP LFN (2004).
Chidi further stated explained that the Comptroller General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali (retired) has ordered an investigation into the matter with a view to “bring the perpetrators to justice”.
The Deputy CG also reiterated the commitment of the service in preventing the importation of products considered as dangerous to the nation and also its efforts in raking revenue for the Federal Government.
He added, “The NCS in increasing reliance on intelligence and technology continues to make it difficult for smugglers to have their way.
“I call on communities especially border community dwellers and port users to desist from the importation of illicit drugs and also support NCS by providing credible information that will help us do better.”
The Nigeria Customs Service on Thursday seized 40-foot containers loaded with tramadol and other drugs from India worth N7, 318,978,065.00.
According to a statement by the spokesman for the service, Joseph Attah, officers also intercepted a helicopter and an aircraft from the United States of America over failure to provide end-user certificate and other documents.
Attah explained that the arrest was made possible following intelligence and collaboration with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NAFDAC).
The statement read v in part, “It is in line with the determination to fight this ugly trend that the Apapa Command of the Service intercepted 40 X 40 feet containers, mostly from India, laden with Tramadol and other pharmaceutical products with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of Seven Billion, Three Hundred and Eighteen Million, Nine Hundred And Seventy-Eight Thousand And Sixty-Five (N7,318,978,065.00) Naira only.”
The Comptroller-General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ali (retired) also reiterated his commitment to boosting revenue for the Federal Government and also tracking down criminals, especially illegal drug dealers.
He said, “The service is not only making concerted efforts to ensure that only maximum revenue is collected but also to safeguard the security and well-being of the citizenry.
“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.”
Speaking further, the customs boss decried a situation whereby some importers would induce officers of the service with lucrative money in a desperate move to import harmful products into the country.
He said, “Importers of this items offered bribes to the tune of N150 million to my 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.
“The Officers played along and eventually arrested three suspects with the money. Let me assure you that the on-going investigation will be thorough to bring all those remotely connected to justice.”
On the seized aircraft, Ali said the action violates Section 36 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA),Cap C45, LFN2004.
He explained that Investigations are on-going to fish out the owner(s) of the helicopter and the second aircraft, a Cessna 182A imported from the US.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is seeking the support of the Federal Government to tackle the menace of drug abuse in the country.
NAFDAC Director General, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, revealed this in a statement personally signed by her on Wednesday.
She disclosed that stakeholders are working with the Minister of Health, as well as the Office of National Security Adviser and the Presidency to develop strategies to mitigate the trend.
Professor Adeyeye decried the rate of abuse of prescription medicines and other psychoactive substances not under international control.
According to her, the fundamental objective of the drug control conventions is to achieve a balance between ensuring availability for medical and scientific purposes and preventing diversion to illicit use and abuse.
In this regard, NAFDAC vowed to continually raise awareness of the public health consequences of drug abuse.
They also promised to promote healthy lifestyles through effective and comprehensive demand reduction initiatives, in accordance with the three international drug control conventions and national legislation.
The statement read, “The most commonly abused drugs in the country are tramadol and codeine. tramadol is a synthetic opioid analgesic used to treat moderate to severe pain and is the most abused effective medicine among addicts. It has no effects on the respiratory system, but overdose causes arrhythmias, cramps, coma and death.
“In Nigeria, it is regulated as the 50 and 100mg dosage strengths but very high dosage forms of 200 and 225mg have infiltrated the market. There is also a noticeable increase in smuggling of tramadol capsules. tramadol use disorder is associated with physical withdrawal symptoms and compulsive behaviour.”
“Codeine can be obtained in a compound form in Over-The-Counter painkillers and cough medicines, but consumers often became addicted. The risk of addiction is great and, in many countries, including Nigeria consumers require a prescription for all opioid-based medication.
“The misuse of codeine products contributes to severe health outcomes including liver damage, stomach ulceration, respiratory depression, coma and death. In Nigeria, all codeine-containing products are locally manufactured and are prescription-only-medicines since 2012, but the reclassification did not stem the trend of abuse partly due to non-adherence to the provisions of prescription,” it added.
NAFDAC identified the lack of due diligence to ensure the integrity of the distribution chain as the cause of unauthorised persons distributing the products to illicit channels.
In a bid to address the social problems and other threats resulting from drug use, the agency stressed the need for extra-territorial enforcement to identify, disrupt and dismantle organised criminal groups operating across the borders.
They also decried over-prescription by health professionals and overconsumption by the public, as well as the lack of collaborative and inter-professional research among stakeholders that could generate the needed data and justify control at the nation’s borders.
NAFDAC also pointed out the common phenomenon of users by-passing the health facilities and turning directly to pharmacies and medicine stores.
They, however, stated their commitment to implementing the recommendations of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGASS) 2016 outcome document on the safe use of controlled medicines for pain and palliative care and others.
The agency emphasised the need to develop early warning systems that look at the emergence and consequences of the non-medical use of narcotics and psychotropic substances.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Niger State have raised an alarm over some persons who carry out illegal operations across the State without uniforms and proper Identification cards.
The State Commander of the anti-drugs agency, Mr Iweanjunwa Joseph, gave the indication on Friday in an interview with Channels Television at the State headquarters of the Command in Minna, the State’s capital.
Mr Joseph, however, described some of the agency’s informants either as double agents or drug addicts, who would give the NDLEA information about drug users and also go back to the drug users and give them information about the agency’s operations.
“In fact, from what I have seen, though NDLEA Operatives are not Saints, some people that give us information about drug users are unfortunately what we call double agents. They would give us information about drug users and they go back to the drug users and give them our own information too.
“At times, these informants go to drug dealers to obtain money. We recently arrested one of them who claimed to be NDLEA officer. I have one of such suspects in our cells here, he was arrested in Suleja Area Command, using fake NDLEA uniform and Identity card. He went about, collecting money from these people that sell patient medicines and some of them that hawk drugs.
“The guy was a drug addict. Sometimes if they did not give him money, he used tramadol, cough syrup with coding and rephinol,” Joseph said.
He further gave some clarification about the NDLEA operations in the Niger State Command, highlighting that all legal operations by the operatives of the agency were being approved by him after which his Men can go on any legal operations in parts of the State.
The NDLEA Boss, said that if he was not around, his Deputy Commander in charge of Operations and Intelligence could also give an instruction on his behalf, provided he authorised his deputy to act in his stead.
According to him, these were the only ways operations could be approved and carried out at the State’s Command headquarters in Minna.
“I think it should be the same thing at the Area Command because NDLEA operations are uniform. There, the Area Commander is in charge and I am quite sure he cannot send out his Officers to go and carry out any raid operation without surveillance reports and of course, an approval by him,” he stated.
He further explained that some of the persons impersonating the NDLEA operatives had been arrested after painstaking surveillance by him and the personnel attached to the State Command of the Agency.
“We have arrested some of the suspects and are right now, being prosecuted before a High Court sitting in Minna,” Mr Joseph stated, emphasising that the NDLEA had full uniforms for all its officials.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Kaduna State, north-west Nigeria, has arrested 89 persons for drug related offences and seized over 15 tons of illicit drug substances worth over 100 million Naira from drug addicts and peddlers between January to June.
The state NDLEA Commander, Mr Samuel Azige, stated this on Friday while addressing reporters.
Mr Azige said that the suspects were arrested in various raids and mop-up conducted by the agency at various parts of the state.
He explained that the seizure was the highest ever made by the agency in the entire Northern Nigeria.
The commander also said the illicit substances including cannabis, rophenol, cough syrup, tramadol and heroin were seized from the drug traffickers, while the agency also uncovered and destroyed a cannabis farm in Kachia Local Government Area of the state, with the owner arrested.
Mr Azige further told the reporters that the agency had secured 33 convictions and 23 suspects were counselled within the period under review.
Lamenting the harm being done to the society by drug trafficking and consumption, the NDLEA Commander noted that majority of the crimes being committed in the country were drug related.
He, however, called on parents to monitor the activities of their children.