By Eguono Odjegba
The Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, last week, announced the seizure of tramadol consignments believed to be worth over N10billion.
While a 20ft container of the offensive drug in varying brands, pharmacological content, and sizes was picked up at the APM Terminal Apapa, 150 various brands of tramadol and other restricted medicaments were intercepted at the Jaelith Bonded Terminal and ESS Libra Terminal Ikorodu, Lagos.
Despite reports of recurring interception of these offensive imports through known ocean carriers and the involvement of known seaport terminals, the Customs is believed to be refraining from applying relevant sections of the Customs and Excise Management Act, CEMA, to promote deterrence.
Although the Customs Area Controller, Compt Yusuf Malanta Ibrahim, put the value of the 150 cartons of tramadol picked up at the Jaelith Bonded Terminal and ESS Libra Terminal Ikorodu at N3.7billion, he was silent on the value of the 20ft container of tramadol with number PCIU 0183241 intercepted at APMT; which he said was falsely declared as Static Converter and Switches.
He told reporters that another container with registration number TCKU7580597 manifested as Installation Fitting materials was scheduled for on-bond transit to the Kano Inland Container Terminal.
While noting that no stone will be left unturned in bringing perpetrators of all illegal importations to book, it is believed that the NCS has prosecuted less than ten offenders in the past seven years, with only one set of offenders convicted; even as the issue of drug smuggling and its adverse effects on the behavioural attitude of young Nigerians while fuelling criminal tendencies remain a major national concern.
According to Yusuf, while the port of origin of the 20ft container of tramadol is Singapore, those behind the importation and shipment moved the cargo from one country to another including Hong Kong and China in order to create diversions and cover up their tracks.
Giving a breakdown of the contents, the customs area boss said 69 cartons of 250mg Tramadol and 81 Cartons of 250Mg tramadol were all laden inside the container. He explained that each of the cartons contained 72 rolls and each roll contains 10 packets; while each packet contains 10 satchels, and each satchels contain 10 tablets.
Narrating how his officers tracked the container load of tramadol, Yusuf said, “Credible intelligence received on the content of the cargo proved positive and the containers were tracked, traced and intercepted by our officers from the port of loading to the port of destination.
“This intelligence is mainly received due to the service inter-departmental cooperation, collaboration and synergy within the government agencies in the port. We all know that we cannot do it all alone.
“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 act shall be made to face the full wrath of the law.”