The Apapa Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has intercepted a 40ft container loaded with 20 cartons of Tapentadol drugs, a new variant of Tramadol worth N1,560,000,000 from India.
The Customs Area Controller, Compt Yusuf Malanta, while showcasing the seizure to newsmen at the Classic Bonded Terminal at Ago Palace Way, Festac Lagos on Thursday, said the cargo arrived at Apapa port on July 3rd 2022, and the Customs has been monitoring it’s movement ever since.
According to Malanta, the container was declared as Chocolates, but on examination, officers discovered cartons of Ok POP sweets while the drugs were carefully hidden at the tail end of the container.
He commended officers of the Classic terminal, even as he reiterated that the synergy between the customs and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) is yielding positive results.
Giving a breakdown of the seizure, Malanta said the Tramadol came in 225mg and 120mg.
“The importer cleverly concealed the drugs at the back of the container, just to undermine our officers. We found out that he had 20 cartons of the drugs. Each of the 225mg had 838,500 tablets. For the 120mg, there are 90,10,000 tablets.
“These drugs are more deadlier than the normal tramadol, you can imagine the havock it would cause if it had escaped into the market. You can agree with me that most of the criminal actions taking place today in our society is as a result of consumption of these types of drugs.
“Therefore, whoever is importing these kind of drugs, we are telling him today that our collaboration efforts is fully informed and we cannot relent.
“The container has been in the port since July 3rd 2022, moving from the mother port down here, the importer is trying to buy time maybe he can escape our watch, but we are really on top of our game and we would continue being on top of our game. If he is not tired of importing, we would not be tired of making him lose his investment, we would ensure that he is trailed and brought to book.
“The joint corporation with the NDLEA and other agencies around here has yielded a fruitful result for the command. We would continue doing that to make sure that a serene environment is created for compliant traders and for goods that are in tandem with Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA)
“We thank God for giving us wisdom to track and seize these kind of drugs because it contravenes section 64, 46 and 47 CEMA Act.
“I am advising the importer to please desist from these kind of importation, it is harmful to humans. We would trail this importer, with the the help of our officers here, we would bring him to book and ensure he is treated accordingly”
Compt Malanta noted that due to unrelenting stance of the Customs and it’s collaboration with NDLEA, unscrupulous entities who specialise on importing Tramadol drugs now find it very difficult to make their way into the country, and that the supply is also now very difficult, compared to previous years.
Even though arrests were not made on the seizure, Compt Malanta assured that investigation is ongoing, and Customs already have a substantial amount of evidence on the people involved in the importation.
Speaking further, the Customs boss said “The CGC has initiated the e-Customs modernization which is a complete automation of customs business processes.
“This begins from the port of loading to the destination where the manifest would show the content of the cargo. We believe that with the introduction of that system, every illicit cargoes would be trapped, not only drugs”
In his own reaction, the Commander of NDLEA in charge of Apapa Command, Ishiaku Yusuf Kwajaffa said that the milligrams written on the drugs were just a cover-up, adding that the Tapentadol is three times potent than the normal tramadol.
He also said that the new variant is new to the NDLEA and that this is the first time the agency is coming across it.
“The 120mg written on the drugs is just a cover, the potency of the drugs is three times higher than the normal tramadol. This particular brand is new to us, this is the first time we are coming across the drugs” he said.