By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has intercepted a 20foot container laden with Codein emanating from Mumbai in India, as well as 27 other containers of various items including unregistered pharmaceutical products, used clothings and foreign parboiled rice.
This is even as the command has stated that it generated a whooping
revenue of one hundred and fifty-nine billion, five hundred and eighty-two million, forty-seven thousand, one hundred and thirty-four naira, eleven kobo (N159,582,047,134.11), January to March 2021.
The container of codeine was showcased to the media on Monday by the Customs Area Controller Apapa Command, Compt Yusuf Malanta at Unity Bonded Terminal in Festac Town, Lagos.
The container was concealed with sets of cooking pots in order to escape the Eagle eyes of the customs officers. However, on physical examination, the container was bearing 732 cartons, containing 1,444 bottles of codeine.
Recall that codeine, a cough syrup, is banned by the Federal Government because of the negative effect on human lives.
Speaking earlier in a press conference at the command in Apapa, Compt Mallanta said the N159.5 billion collected by the command represents 44.8% increment in duty collection when compared to the last year’s
figure of over 110 billion of the same corresponding months of January to March 2020.
According to him, the difference recorded was made possible because of robust stakeholders engagement, officers resolute in discharging their duties and an increased level of compliance in
the trader’s zone.
In the area of anti-smuggling, he said within the two months of
his assuming leadership, the command made significant seizures of the 23 containers
of various items such as unregistered pharmaceuticals like tramadol/codeine, used
clothing, foreign parboiled rice with a duty paid value of Seven hundred and seventythree million, eight hundred and nine thousand, six hundred and twenty naira
He however said the total seizure for the first quarter (Jan-Mar 2021) stands at 28 containers with a duty paid value of One billion, eight hundred and seventy-one
million, nine hundred and forty-four thousand, three hundred and seventy naira (N1,871,944,370.00)
Compt Mallanta stated that, but for sheer intelligence gathering, the containers of unregistered and illicit drugs would not have been discovered because they were well concealed.
Interestingly, the drugs were all unregistered without NAFDAC registration numbers and with phony names like “Facaddol” “Gebedol” among others.
The Customs boss said that no arrests were made yet in connection with the seizures. He however said the importers would be traced with the bill of laden.
“My advise to importers is to be compliant with government policies, I am also warning them that with the synergy and information sharing we have with other government agencies, coupled with Customs-Community relationships, such kinds of importation can never pass through our eyes”
“We are tracing this importer to the end, we are going through the system if he has other containers, we are profiling to know if he has previously imported, or if his import is already in the system”
“Investigation is still ongoing, a documentary intelligence would lead us to the arrest of the suspect, a declaration has not been made yet” he said
He appreciated the trading public, the agents and the officers of the Command who are very diligent in doing their work.
Speaking on the container of codeine at Unity Bonded Terminal at Festac Lagos, Compt Mallanta said the content is 11.95miligram which is too high for human consumption.
“If you take this, you will not get yourself for the whole day.
The import has breached the importation laws, therefore it is outrightly seized”
While receiving the drugs seizures from the Customs boss , Mr. Samuel Bashir Gazama, Director, Apapa Special Area Command of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said that without synergy and working together as a team with the customs, it would have been difficult to track the container.
“We have been trailing this cargo since November 2020, and we were only able to intercept it 23rd of March this year. You can see the span of time the criminals are taking, definitely they are also monitoring us”
He also appealed to Nigerians to work with NDLEA in sanitising the country from illicit drugs.
In terms of export, the Apapa Customs said goods worth Forty-one billion, five hundred and fifty-nine million, three hundred and seventy-eight thousand, twenty-nine kobo (N41,559,378,029) have been exported through Apapa port between January-March 2021.
These exports include manufactured products such as soap, textiles, noodles, agricultural products such as Cashew nuts,
Hibiscus, Sesame seeds and other mineral resources.
The total tonnage of the said
export stood 116 million tones with FOB value of One hundred and nine million, six hundred and fifty-five thousand, three hundred and fifty-one US Dollars ($109,655,351.00).