Customs Comptroller-General, Hameed Ali on Monday admitted that officials of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) compromise at their duty points. Speaking against the backdrop of the seizure of 5,056 cartons of Tramadol Hydrochloride – an illicit drug imported into the country from India and China – by the Customs anti-smuggling unit, Ali said the tendency of the officers to compromise created the need for multiple layers of inspection of imported items.
“I also agree that our officers are compromising otherwise this things will not find their way here. So it is the realization of this compromise of our officers that we had 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,” Ali said.
The Customs Comptroller-General said the seized drugs, worth N252.6 million, were intercepted at Idiroko border, Sango Otta axis and Ibadan expressway.
The Customs boss explained that the drugs which came in various sizes and packages, were impounded because they fall under the import prohibition list and did not carry the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) registration number.
“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 the country, despite severe consequences for offenders.
He said while some suspects have been arrested, investigation is ongoing to bring to book others involved.
“We are profiling those involved 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 will find their way into the country.
He said, “We are not deliberately harassing people but we are trying to secure and protect the society which is one of our mandates to make sure that everyone is protected.”
The customs boss called on the mass media and Nigerians to provide the NCS with useful information that will help nip smuggling of prohibited drugs and other contraband in the bud.