By Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Barely a week after it seized 50 containers of controlled drugs in Lagos, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has announced the seizure of another nine 40ft containers of Tramadol and other controlled pain-killer drugs with a duty paid value of N3,060,000,000 at the Onne Port, Rivers State.
Briefing journalists at Port Harcourt II Area Command, Onne Port after an inspection of the seized drugs, Deputy Comptroller General of Customs in charge of Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection, Augustine Chidi, said the nine containers were falsely declared as containing PVC ball valves and general goods.
He however said that upon diligent profiling of the exporter in the country of origin, India, there was reasonable suspicion that eventually led to the discovery of the dreaded drugs.
He said, “You will recall that last week, Nigerian Customs Service announced the seizure of 50 containers in Lagos. This brings to a total of 59 containers of controlled drugs so far seized within this month.”
He explained that the importation contravened Section 46 of Customs and Excise Management Act Cap 45 LFN, adding that Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.) had ordered a thorough investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Let me assure you that the NCS will not relent on its role of contributing to national economic and security well-being of Nigerians by ensuring that items that could negatively affect the citizenry are not allowed entry into the country,” Chidi said.
He added that the NCS was increasingly relying on intelligence and technology to make it difficult for smugglers to have their way.
“Accordingly, I call on the general public, especially border community dwellers and port users to desist from importation of illicit goods and also support NCS by providing credible information that will help us do better,” he appealed. The Deputy Comptroller General expressed concern that the nation was experiencing increasing attempts by unpatriotic elements to smuggle dangerous drugs into the country.
He said the increasing smuggling of controlled drugs into the country could be traced to the Christmas and New Year seasons as well as the coming 2019 elections.
He said unscrupulous business men were exploiting the market provided by the seasons and elections in which some politicians might want to engage the youths in unwholesome activities. “These elements are morally bankrupt and willing to make money at the expense of human lives. We must stop them, as we all have a duty to protect our nation,” he said.
The Comptroller, Area II Command, NCS, Comptroller Aliyu Saidu, also said the work of the command would be enhanced when it received one of the three scanners approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the customs.
“It will greatly assist our command in checking crime and increase our revenue base,” he said.