By Ray Ugochukwu
The recent flooding of Tramadol, a painkiller drug, into Nigeria from the Far East nations, has been described as a scourge to the country, which should be generally tackled before it gets out of hand.
Customs Area Controller, Tin Can Island Port (TCIP) command, Comptroller Mohammed U.B.A., made the observation Friday in Lagos after the revelation of another consignment of the drug valued at over N3.0 billion.
Mohammed lamented the devastating damage the illegal import of the drug was doing to the country and pleaded with the media and the public to assist the service and other security agencies in exposing the practice and its perpetrators.
In a brief chat with the media, he lamented that people in Lagos and down south Nigeria, might not appreciate the damaging effecst of the drug until they visited the northern axis to see what was happening to the youths over there.
“You people in Lagos or say the south, may not know what damage Tramadol is doing to our young people. But visit the north and see boys, young girls, even wives being destroyed by Tramadol.
“Please, I want to appeal to you and everybody to assist the security agencies to expose the importers and agents of this deadly killer. It is really getting out of control. You people (media) should assist in the fight against Tramadol”, the CAC remarked.
Earlier, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), had told journalists that the seizure had a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of over N3.3 billion.
According to the Customs boss, represented by the Deputy Comptroller General (DCG), Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection (EI&I), Mr. Augustine Chidi, the Tramadol came in 10 x 40ft containers while another two boxes carried second-hand clothings and one other harbouring bleaching soaps.
A breakdown of the content of the 10 containers showed tramadol, Ciprofloxacin capsules, Diclofenac Sodium tablets, Soffeathe, IV Cannula and Sidenfil Citrate tablets.
Surprisingly, this disclosure came barely 24 hours after the service had announced the impounding of 30 containers of Tramadol in Apapa Port valued at N7.3 billion.
“It is pertinent to note that two of the containers had earlier been handed over to National Agency for Food Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on October 11 and October 20.
“A container of tramadol was also handed over to National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on the November 2.
“The service wishes to reiterate its concern for the health and security of Nigerians and would better imagine the devastating effect on the lives of our youths if this quantity of unwholesome drugs had found their way into the markets”, he stated.
According to him, the seizures were in violation of the absolute prohibition list of CET 2015-2019, while the harmful bleaching creams and second-hand clothing were seized in line with the provisions of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) CAP C45 LFN 2004 Section 46 and 161.
“The Service reiterates its concerns for the health and security of Nigerians and one would better imagine the devastating effect on the life of our youths if these quantities of unwholesome drugs had found their way into the market. Not only will it lead to increased insecurity, but will also impact negatively on the health of our youths,” Ali had stated.
He said considering the global trend of insecurity, which could be attributed to the desperation of importers/exporters to circumvent the process by bringing in unwholesome items, the Tin Can Island Command had re-jigged its operational methodology to deal with the trend.
Ali added, “Such goods could not only lead to increased insecurity but will impact negatively on the health of our youths.
“We want to re-assure the nation that Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) will not renege on its mandate irrespective of its circumstances,” Ali said.
He commended Tin Can Island command as a trail-blazer in the introduction and application of Time Release Studies (TRS) for evaluation of officers to ensure that needless delays were identified and regularised to achieve 48-hour cargo clearance.
The Customs boss also commended the Area Controller, Comptroller Mohammed and all officers and men of the command for their commitment “which reflected in the revenue records’’.
He also commended the patriotism of Customs brokers, who had aligned with the change mantra of the Customs Management through diligence and honest declarations.
Customs Comptroller General, Hameed Ali, inspecting some of the seized Tramadol packs
in Apapa, Lagos, …. recently