By Stephen Ubanna
For years , officer and men of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS and Nigerian Food and Drug Administration , NAFDAC, knew that that there are lot of dirty deals going at the Alaba International Market but dread going there for fear of being attacked by the criminal elements in the area.
late Dora Akuyili, a former Chairman, NAFDAC, and later minister of Information, did everything within her poers to stop the mess by raiding the market severally to stop the fake drug manufactures, who litter the market but that was how far he could go. Her death opened the flood gate for the fake drug manufacturers and importers of prohibited drug to virtually take over most of the empty warehouses. market to stock their products. The situation is so bad as Tramadol and Codein , drugs which had been baned from being sold in the Nigerian market at the instance of the ministry of ministry of Health because of its adverse effect on the conomy.
Investigation by The Value news shows that either the drugs may have found their way into the market throgh the major seaports in Lagos: Apapa, Tin can Island and port Multi-services terminal Limited, PTML or the Bonde terminals afliated to the ports.
Given that NAFDAC Officials have faifed in their duty to sanitise the market to control the sale of such dangerous drugs in the Nigerian market may have forced officers and men of the Operations and Lagos Roving team Headed by Riks Lura, an a Chief Superintendent of Customs to go back to the drawing to keep a close watch on the market.
Acting on information that there was a warehouse in the market stocked with prohibited Codein drug, Riks was said to have mobilised his men to lay an ambush on the warehouse . the team were said to have observed what was going at the activities and how Customers troop in and out. When it became obvious to the Officers that was being sold in the warehouse was Codeine, it emboldened them to Strike.
The FOU, Zone A, senior Customs officer, may have known that raiding the Alaba market to fight the drug dealers was an operation to be left to his patrol teams alone but chose to lead the team that went for himselfto ensure that the cartons of Codein drugs in the suspected warehouse were carted away to the Command premises. he was said to have kept the information close to his chest but was communicating with the informant until the coast was clear to strike.
It was learnt a day to the raid to the raid of the market, Riks had sent an advance patrol team on mulfti fully armed with their Service pistol to take over the warehouse environment. It was gathered that about five days ago, the Riks led tem , which had been known for making spectacular seizures of tramadol, Codein and Donkey Skin, worth billions of naira, swooped on the suspected warehouse at the Alaba market.
Eyewitness account disclosed that when information filtered out that FOU, Zone A, personnel, have taken over a suspected warehouse in the market stocked with Codein drugs, other warehouse operators were said to have hastily locked up for fear of being searched and disappeared from the horizon. A source told The Magazine that FOU team carted away about 350 cartons of Codein from the warehouse which were quickly transferred to the Command premises without any resistance from the foot soldiers of the drug dealer handing around the vicinity. They may have known that any attempt to attack the Customs patrol team would spell doom as the officers were said to have been given standing order to defend themselves from any such attacks.
Penultimate Wednesday, Mohammed Aliyu, the Command Area Comptroller , had taken Joseph Attah a Deputy Comptroller and the Service Spokes person and his team from Abuja and two other Television stations Crew and one on line Reporter, not The Value News to the location where the 347 cartons of Codein carted from the Alaba market warehouse were kept under tight security. The Customs Comptroller had put the value of the arrested Codein drugs at about N146, 000.00. The successful raid of the warehouse at the notorious Alaba market, where most of the big warehouses are operated by the Chinese or Lebanese businessmen, should embolden NAFDAC Enforcement , officials to raid the market at will to fish out the dangerous drug dealers.
Recall that Muhammed Abba-Kura, Comptroller, Apapa Command , confirmed at a press briefing on Tuesday, July 10, 2019, that the Command seized 29 Containers load of goods , noting some of the Containers were found to be carrying tramadol and other dangerous drugs suspected to be Codein . This may have given people a clue as to where the Codein or tramodol found in Nigerian markets were pushed into the market: the saport.
Those who may have thinking that the drugs ,particular Codein or tramodol sold at the Alaba market may have been smuggled into the country through the Seme-Krake, a Joint Border between Nigeria and Republic of Benin to give Mohammed Uba Gabar, the Command Area Comptroller would be disappointed. This is because the no nonsense Cusoms Comptroller knows his onions and has effectively blocked the all the access routes from the land including the Owode outstation, the Creeks and the watersides to ensure that no prohibited items enter the country.
Tramadol smugglers who may have attempted to do so in the past would not forget their experience in a hurry in an attempt to smuggle cartons of tramadol from Republic of Benin into the Nigerian market through Lagos , were lost to the government. The Customs Comptroller was said to have handed over the items to the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, but NAFDAC, officials protested .
Nurudeen Nowa, a physician, and Coordinator of the Agency at Seme, Confirmed that the number of cartons of tramdol handed over to the agency mistakenly were complete , insisting that no carton was missing as alleged. The two agencies, according to sources , had expected the Seme Command officials to sesolve the matter but no luck. The items are still in the custody of the NDLEA.
In spite of the efforts put in place in the last couple of months by the Seme Customs Comptroller, to stop smuggling activities within his area of jurisdiction, investigation shows that there are officers who were said to have worked with him at FOU, Zone A, who had an axe to grand with him and thus hell bent in rubishing his records in the anti-smuggling war against foreign rice smugglers by taking damaging pictures of trucks load of rice from Seme heading to the Internally Displaced People’s, IDP, Camp in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe which was said to be at the instance of Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and posting it to the Customs Headquarters as smuggled Consignment through the Seme land Border. The Customs blackmailers may have done so to put the Seme Customs boss in the bad books of the Customs Comptroller General, o facilitate his removal.
This may have forced Augusttine Chidi, a Deputy Comptroller General , DCG, Enforcement, Inspection and Investigations, E, I and I, to give Yahaya Usman, a deputy Comptroller and Coordinator, CGC, Strike Force, Lagos Command , the go ahead to track any of the trucks.
Yahaya may have seen it as an opportunity to get back at his perceived enemy , who he had not forgiven for taking away most of the jobs meant for his office to another Unit, thus rendering ineffective at FOU, Zone A, his former Command.
He may have got it wrong. This is because he had not been able to make any seizure of any truckload of rice coming from the Seme Border axisis to Lagos, an indication that those feeding the Headquarters with such damaging information, ” were liars”.
The blackmailers, based on records available to The Magazine may not have succeeded in their plan to dampen Muhammed’s aggressive anti-smuggling drive as he has continued to make seizures of thousands of ”50” bags of foreign parboiled rice both on land, Creeks and the watersides, which are currentlyparked at the Command Government Warehouse.