By Stephen Ubanna
This is not the best of times for smugglers of the Asian countries of China and India Manufactured Tramadol ,regarded in Pharmaceutical circles as dangerous drug because of its negative effect on those who come into contact with it, particular, Youths.
Even smugglers of DIZAPAM, and other Pharmaceutical drugs without, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration, NAFDAC, Number, to guarantee their importation into the country are also not finding ease to push their drugs into the Nigerian market because of the tight security in different parts of the south east and the south –south geopolitical region, particular, the tight security between Ondo and Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre, Ikom, and Cameroon including the Bakasi axis, which are served with Contraband goods from the port of Douala in the North Central country of Camerron. .
The water-tight anti-security security mounted by the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone C, Owerri, Imo state, Patrol Teams in Edo and Cross river states particular, in the south-south geo-political region at the instance at the instance of Comptroller Yusuf Lawal and his various Patrol Team members which was said to have started for much of last year and early this year by Kayode Olusemire, a former Comptroller of the Command, and now an Assistant Comptroller General of Customs, with a responsibility to supervise the operations in Customs Zone C, Headquarters, PortHarcourt, Rivers state had been sustained by Yusuf Lawal, his successor. The continuous seizure of Contraband goods Contraband goods, particular, foreign parboiled rice and Pharmaceutical drugs which had escapd the eagle eyes of the Interventionist Units personnel in the south west states of Ogun, Lagos , Oyo, Osun , Ekiti and Ondo peaks volume.
, Between April and June, 2021, the Command, was said to have intercepted 4,500Sachets of 225Mg and 19,725 sachets of DIZAPAM which did not NAFDAC, number and other Contraband goods. Jerry Attah, a Deputy Superintendent of Customs and the Command spokesperson, in a Statement, put the value of the two intercepted Pharmaceutical drugs and other Contraband goods intercepted and seized by the Command in three months at about N99.82 million.
An informed source told The Value News that the Tramadol was intercepted between Ondo and Edo states, during routine checks on vehicles coming from the south west states of Lagos and Ondo into the south east while the DIZAPAM, was intercepted based on Credible intelligence.
The worry of many was how the sachets of tramadol drugs was smuggled out from the Lagos ports and neatly Concealed in a vehicle heading to the south east without being discovered on the road by the Interventonist units personnel who are ubiquitous along the Lagos –Benin road and Ondo-Benin road, meaning that the smugglers have developed more sophisticated tactics of smuggling dangerous drugs out of the Lagos ports.
This is where Yusuf Malanta, Ara Comptroller of Apapa Command, particular, and his Deputy Coomptrollers, overseeing APM, terminal, described as the biggest Container terminal in the West African Sub-region and other terminals under the supervision of the Command may have to sit up to put a close tab to know the goods that are exited from the port to SIFAX and other terminals outside the port including items released from the APM , terminal .
Many believe that the hundreds of the sachets of Tramadol drugs may have been smuggled out of the Apapapa port with the active connivance of Customs personnel going by the frequent seizures of Tramadol drugs Concealed in ‘’40’’ Containers by Malanta’s special Team at the port.
Given his Knowledge of the operations at the country’s seaports, Lawal,the FOU, Zone C, Comptroller, may have known of the leakages at the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tincan Island and the Port Multi-services Terminal Limited, PTML, including the Porous border routes of Idiroko in Ogun state, Shaki and Iseyin, in Oyo and Osun states, that he was determined to make a mockery of whatever tactics that may be used by the smugglers to carry out their nefarious activities without loss of lives.
Although, Smuggling is a global phenomenon that cannot be eradicated in its entirety in any country, Lawal, The FOU, Zone C, Area Comptroller, who could not hide his feelings had enjoined ‘’all hands to be on deck to be able to fight the menace to a standstill’’.
Appealing to the Media to step their sensitization Campaign of the dangers of smuggling Tramadol and other dangerous drugs and Contraband items into the Nigerian economy, he noted that ‘’only God knows what would have happened if the sachets of the Tramadol drugs had entered into the wrong hands at this trying moment of agitation for Republic of Biafra, by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPB, and their armed wing, the Ibo Security Nework, ESN and other Criminal gangs in the south-south states or the south east.. ‘’The negative Consequences cannot be overemphasised’’, he had said’.
An elated Lawal had said that the Command could not have achieved that much in three months, without ‘’the Logistics support of Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General of the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS. He was said to have also appreciated Farouk YahaYa, a Major General and Chief of Army Staff, COAS, led Nigerian Army and the Force, under the close watch of Usman Alkali Baba, and the Department of State Security, DSS, ‘’ for their operational support’’ which was said to have facilitated the Contraband seizures.
With the support of the sister security agencies personnel, the Customs Comptroller, had vowed had vowed’’ to sustain the good working relationship in order to ensure better performance in the remaining half of the 2021, fiscal year’’.
Aware that the Patrol Team officers needed to be encouraged to carry out their official responsibility, of anti-smuggling operations and revenue generation for the government, he was said to have urged ‘’the Patrol Team members ‘’to always ensure Professionalism and be diligent in their job’’ .
Maritime analysts are optimistic that if the officers and men of the Command could follow strictly to the instructions of their Area Comptroller in performing their statutory responsibilities to sustain the anti-smuggling operations in the south east and south-south geopolitical regions, comprising of Abia, Anambra, Eboyi, Enugu , Imo, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta, Edo , Rivers and Bayelsa, , it would go a long way assisting the Command in apprehending some of the smugglers aas was the case this time around where five of them were arrested in connection with the seized items.
They believe that that it would also facilitate the recovering of the lost billions of naira due to False Declarations, Wrong Classification and underpayment that could have entered into private pockets into government coffers to be used for provision of roads, health care and educational facilities in the country. This is where the GC Strke Force, Team A, overseeing the south west,geo-political region, under the close watch of Ahmadu Shuaibu stand out among his peers.