The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has impounded truckloads of 5,056 cartons of fake drugs imported into the country by some scrupulous importers.
The fake items were intercepted at Idiroko border, Sango Otta axis and Lagos/ Ibadan expressway by the officers and men of the Federal Operation Unit (FOU) , Zone ‘A’ Ikeja, Lagos.
Addressing reporters at Federal Government warehouse in Lagos yesterday, its Comptroller-General Col. Hameed Ali said the seized items were inimical to the health of the country because they do not have official NAFDAC number
The fake drugs, the CGC said, has a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N252.6 million.
The DPV excluded the market value of the drugs that runs into several millions of naira.
Majority of the fake items, Ali said, were imported from China and India by the scrupulous importers who are at large.
Some of the seized items included REALLY EXTRA with effective relieve from pain and fever inscribed on its cartoons; Tramadol Hydrochloride Tablet (Royal) of 225mg and Tramadol Caps of 120mg each.
The Customs boss said that the drugs which came in various milligrams and different packages were impounded because they fall under the import prohibition list.
“These are dangerous drugs which mostly our youths take as a way of relieving their stress. They are not drugs meant for consumption. They are completely under prohibition yet these things still find their way into the country. The drugs reduce youths to nothing and anybody who keeps taking these drugs will not be useful to himself and the society,” he said.
Ali expressed concern at the spate of smuggling of unregistered drugs and other contraband goods in to the country despite severe consequences for offenders.
“We are profiling those involve in the importation of this drugs and the law will take its course. I can’t imagine that a Nigerian for the sake of money decide to bring this type of drug into the country.
“When people say Customs is disturbing us on the road, we cannot but do what we are doing. We need to have the three layers of defence in order to accost this type of thing. Otherwise, if we limit it to only the port or the borders, a lot of these things we find their way in to the country.
“We are not deliberately harassing people but we are trying to secure and protect the society which is one our mandate to make sure that everyone is protected .
“I also agree that our officers are compromising otherwise this things will not find their way here. So it is realization of this compromise of our officers that will have to put layers of defence. If you compromise the first layer, you will not be able to compromise the second layer or third layer. This is what we will continue to do until Nigerians begin to realise that things like this are inimical to our own progress and health and dangerous to our economy,” he said.
He said while some suspects have been arrested, investigation is ongoing to bring to book others involve including officers in the importation of the drugs.
Ali, therefore, calls on the media and Nigerians to provide the Service with useful information that will help nip smuggling of prohibited drugs and other contraband in the bud.
One of the drug laden trucks intercepted by Customs has AW 265 XJ as its registration number.
In a related development, Col Ali has also appealed to the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) to shelve its proposed strike.
Ali made the appeal when he visited the national secretariat of the group in Lagos, yesterday.
ANALCA had issued a 21 day strike notice to the Federal Government over extortion of its members at the ports.
Ali however, assured the group that the challenges facing the clearing agents are not unknown to the government and that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is working round the lock to address the problems.
The Customs boss, who arrived at the ANLCA secretariat to kick-start his meeting with freight forwarding associations also appealed to the association to shelve the 21 days strike notice which it had issued last week to the Federal government, over extortion of its members at the port.
He assured that the customs is working on addressing the challenges raised by the agents even as he assured that the decisions would be appreciated by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I want to appeal to you as the Customs CG and the Buhari administration to please exercise some patience on your strike notice, I can assure you that with this new synergy, the challenges will be tackled, we would do something” he said.
Ali also urged the agents to be his “eyes and ears” in the industry, stressing that the Customs and the agents are partners in progress.
In his speech, the National President of ANLCA; Prince Olayiwola Shittu pointed out the challenges militating against quick cargo clearance at the port.
The challenges, according to him, include: multiplicity of alerts, FOU interception of cargoes, the need for uniformed value on vehicles and challenges associated with ETLS cargoes among others.
He lamented the multiplicity of check points along the border stations and clearance desks mounted at the ports by Customs officers to frustrate genuine importers from doing their jobs as required by law.
Shittu therefore, urged Customs to embrace paperless transactions (single window platform) as it is done in other clime to facilitate trade and reduce corruption.
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