By Udeme Clement

“The Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone ‘ A’ of Nigeria Customs Service has intercepted 1,104cartons of fake pharmaceutical products, estimated at the Duty Paid Value, DPV, of over N12.1million, smuggled into the country without appropriate documents and permits from government, even as the Command swiftly arrested 16 suspects in connection with the offensive items.

Some of the substandard drugs fully loaded in two 40ft trucks were concealed with second hand tyres by the smugglers in a bid to escape security checks. The drugs include Cimetidine tables, Derm-Artemether injection, Tetracycline hydrochloride, Diclofenac capsules, Dicmol, Piroxican and many others.

The Customs Area Controller, CAC, of the Command, Comptroller Mohammed Uba Garba who displayed the items in the open, disclosed this while handing over the items to National Agency for Food, Drugs, Administration and Controller, NAFDAC, in Lagos, stressing that the suspects will be prosecuted according to the law.

According to him, “The core function of FOU is anti-smuggling and our officers have been strategically positioned to curb smuggling of all prohibited items including substandard pharmaceutical products. Aside from the medications, we also intercepted 1,590kg of Cannabis Sativa (Indian Hemp) worth N72.9million, 523 used tyres, 1,393 cartons of frozen products, 27 assorted vehicles and 137 bales of second hand clothing.”

In a chat with Sunday Vanguard at the scene of the inspection, a Duty Director with the Investigation department of NAFDAC, Mr. Francis Ezeribe, said that NAFDAC is pushing for death sentence or life imprisonment for smugglers of fake drugs into Nigeria, lamenting that the health of Nigerians in the whole country is in serious danger from increased rate of such items going into the market for public consumption.

He said, “This is a mind boggling seizure and we need severe sanctions for smugglers of fake drugs because wrong chemicals are used in making these products.    When consumed, these dangerous    chemicals enter into the blood stream and    damage the internal organs of the body, slowing killing the people.

We thank Customs for their timely intervention in seizing these items because with this large quantity seized, it has reduced crime rate in the country, as every crime committed is drug induced.        We receive seizure of fake drugs almost on monthly basis and we just destroyed huge substandard drugs last week. This trend is alarming, the media should partner with Customs and other relevant agencies in the fight against influx of fake drug into Nigeria”.

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