Is Customs Winning The Drug War?

Is Customs Winning The Drug War?
Compt. Yusuf Malanta observes a roll of the seized Tramadol at Apapa Port Lagos on the 4th of August, 2022.

The increasing importation of illicit and hard drugs into the country is becoming worrisome and should be declared as a national emergency. Nigeria is already being challenged with myriad of troubles to allow expired, illicit and hard drugs saturate the market. This is why all agencies saddled with the responsibility of policing the different point of entry must stay vigilant to avert any such possibilities of these unauthorized products entering the country.

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in recent times has continually given those involved in this unpatriotic act a run for their money, making the port unsafe and impassable for such goods.  Though the NCS is not alone in this fight against harmful drugs, the agency is believed to be in synergy and intelligence sharing with the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and all relevant stakeholders in this struggle. However, this is one fight that should never be left in the hands of few agencies but collective efforts of both government and private agencies.

Less than three months, there have been seizures of harmful drugs worth over N8 billion in Lagos and Ogun State alone. In June, the Nigeria Customs Service Ogun 1 Area Command handed over a seized carton of 1,100 packets of Tramadol, 225mg per table x 10 to the NDLEA.  Just before then, the Western Marine Customs had previously handed over seized Cannabis sativa worth N168 million to NDLEA. Whereas, Mr. Ameh Inalegwu of the Apapa Area Command, Lagos of NDLEA disclosed in June that the agency made a drug seizure in one week worth N6 billion. Like most of the previous ones, the seizures include; 1,518kg of Tafrodol brand of Tramadol (120grms) and Tramadol (225mg & 250mg) weighing 3,553 kg. On the 4th of August, 2022 the NCS Apapa Command Lagos also intercepted a container concealed with 55 cartons of Tramadol worth N1.375 billion. On the same day, the command also intercepted another container load of Omeprazole without NAFDAC stamp. It is almost a routine that illicit and hard drugs are shipped to Nigeria on daily basis.

Aside illicit and dangerous drugs, the importation and smuggling of unauthorized goods in Nigeria never seem to decrease. The effect of these acts on the economy is a major reason why the economy continues to suffer setbacks. While Customs and various partnering agencies have been working tirelessly to ensure that this country and her citizens are protected against hard drugs, the need to optimize the process and equip the various channels with modern technologies to ensure proper and adequate policing should be top on the list.

Beyond all these, NCS as the lead agency in this war must commence an independent and forensic investigation on the continuous importations of these drugs. Questions must be raised and answered on why importers are quick in getting information that stops them from coming to clear their goods. There are certainly and possible informants within the system sabotaging the efforts of the agency. Customs should also be mindful of the possibility of other agencies having informants that derail their efforts especially in apprehending the culprits likewise NDLEA and other agencies.

The continuous interception of hard drugs worth billions of naira and hardly is anyone apprehended for it is a direction where the torchlight should be beamed at.

The government or agencies should also consider applying diplomatic measures in addressing some of these issues. Reaching out to the countries where some of these items are imported from and letting them know that certain items are prohibited or allowed only by licensed individuals or organizations.

Whatever needs to be done should be done beyond the regular interception since it is not guaranteed that all illicit and harmful drugs can and would be intercepted at the various entry points. The danger of this continuous importation of harmful drugs and the fight against it needs to be taken to the very doorstep of those involved in it in one way or the other.

Check Also

Requiem For Lagos State MOT Taskforce

Requiem For Lagos State MOT Taskforce

  One peculiar trait with most government policies is the absence of integrity of purpose. …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

× Get News Alert