By Kenneth Jukpor
Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have agreed to deepen information sharing with the goal to scrutinize and seize contrabands, as Apapa Customs Command generates a record N65billion in one month.
The Customs Area Controller, Apapa Command, Comptroller Malanta Yusuf made this proposal while engaging the NDLEA official in charge of SIFAX Bonded Terminal, Mr. Austin Opiepe as NCS unveiled tramadol and codeine seizures at SIFAX terminal at Ijora Causeway.
Speaking with the NDLEA official, Malanta said; “It’s important that we deepen our intelligence sharing and intelligence gathering. If you were aware of this and you didn’t tell me, it doesn’t speak well of both agencies of government. We should collaborate on these issues and also jointly show it to the public.”
Malanta noted that NCS was able to trace the container carrying tramadol and codeine concealed with hotpots, from the origin through intelligence and revealed that the consignment came from India via the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).
He explained that Customs waited for three weeks for the shipper to come forward with documents but went ahead to open the container as empowered by the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) when the Service suspects such cargoes.
Earlier, the Customs boss noted that the N65.5billion generated at the Command in April 2021 represented an increase of over N25billion when compared to April 2020 and it was the highest in revenue recorded at the Command in a single month.
“In line with the provision of extant laws, trade guidelines and enforcement of government fiscal policy measures, the Command was able to further strengthen its anti-smuggling operations against economic saboteurs through credible intelligence driven operations. This led to the seizure of 4x40ft containers laden with unregistered pharmaceuticals 674 cartons of tramadol tablets in 225mg and 120mg, and 805 cartons of codeine syrup in 100ml at APMT and SIFAX 3 Bonded Terminal respectively. These importations contravene Sections 46 & 47 of CEMA Actt CAP C 45 LFN 2004,” the Area Controller said.
Noting that these dangerous drugs pose serious threat to health of the citizenry and economic well-being of the country, he warned importers to desist from such businesses even as he encouraged shipping lines to scrutinize cargoes heading to the country in a bid to tackle the menace of drug abuse.
According to him, other items seized from the export angle in the period under review include: two containers of unprocessed wood and one ontainer of scrap copper wire.
“Exportation of the above items is in breach of Schedule 6 (items 4 & 6) of the Common External Tariff (CET). The Duty Paid value of the seized items stood at N1.76billion,” the Area Controller said.
On his part, the NDLEA representative, Mr. Austin Opiepe commended the NCS even as he assured that NDLEA was more interested in stopping the influx of harmful drugs than any perceived glory from the actual interception.
“We already have a wonderful and robust working relationship with the Customs. The NDLEA Commander at the seaports has regular meetings with the Apapa CAC. We are emulating that kind of relationship at the SIFAX 3 bonded terminal as I have a good relationship with the Customs Deputy Controller. When we got the information about this container on April 8th, I quickly shared it with the Deputy Controller who disclosed that Customs also had the same information about the container. Together, we followed closely until this moment.”