The Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Col Hameed Ali (Rtd.) has revealed that the Customs intercepted 5056 cartons of absolute prohibited tramadol drugs along Apapa road in Lagos, Sango-Ota axis of Ogun State and Lagos-Ibadan express road worth N242, 688.000.00 in Duty Paid Value (DPV).
The Customs Comptroller General, Ali revealed this while addressing newsmen yesterday shortly after his visit to the headquarters of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF).
Col. Ali explained that the drugs came in from India and other Asian countries.
Speaking to newsmen in Lagos, Hameed Ali said that, “the 5056 cartons of Tramadol came in different batches. For those of us who are aware, these drugs are dangerous and are mostly used by our youths and women.
“This drugs fall under absolute prohibition list. That’s why when people complain of Customs harassing them on the highway, how would this have been intercepted if the trucks conveying them were not stopped on the roads. We are not deliberately stopping vehicles on the roads.
“These drugs were seized at areas in Apapa road, Sango-Ota and along Lagos-Ibadan express road. If we close our eyes and allow these prohibited drugs to come in, the damage it will cause to our children can never be quantified.
“We have two layers of defence to stop illicit and prohibited drugs like this. If it leaves the ports and borders, our officers will stop it on the highway. It is part of our mandate to prevent the illegal entry of this kind of products.
“Anybody who keeps taking these drugs will not be useful to himself or the nation. Therefore, we need the support of Nigerians to fight this menace. These are the ones we have nipped in the bud, only God knows the numbers of those that have escaped arrest.
“I also admit my officers are compromising, otherwise, these drugs will not find their way into the country. On the officers that released this to come in, we are currently doing profiling of everybody involved in this drugs clearance. Immediately we are done with that, we will make our arrest. We have our ways of getting this information, so we will get to the roots of this clearance very soon”
Meanwhile, Ali said that his visit assures that freight forwarders were partners in progress with the Customs, consequently, he agreed to set-up a committee comprising freight forwarders and Customs officers to enable them interact on a regular basis.
“We have listened to your ideas in the past, we have imbibed some of them and we are now on the part of creating a stronger synergy. We should form a committee that will incorporate NAGAFF, ANLCA and the Nigeria Customs Service. That will create that platform that will enable us interact on a regular basis and when there are issues, that committee will be able to look at it and proffer a solution before even it becomes a problem”.
On his part, the founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam agreed with the Comptroller-General of Customs that lack of communication between the service and the associations was the problem; therefore he commended the efforts of Col. Ali to synergize with NAGAFF and ANLCA.
He assured that NAGAFF would seek more opportunities to sit with the Comptroller General in order to have more fruitful deliberations
Aniebonam said, “What I want us to do is to find time to sit down and talk. NAGAFF is not used to talking in the open like this, we will come, we will sit with you and tell you what you need to know and then from there you can generate your policy.
“You have control over is your officers, once you get the officers to do the needful, you have gotten every other thing right. Therefore, the task is enormous but it is achievable. Now that you have come, we are going to work with you, leave your lines open, and you will see that your mandate will be very effective”.