Customs Marine Impounds Drugs Worth N1.2b
BY FUNMI ALUKO
The renewed offensive by the management of Western Marine Command (WMC) of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has yielded positive dividends, following the interception and seizure of illicit drugs valued at N1, 120,560,000.00.
The seizures which include 232 sacks of Cannabis Sativa, otherwise known in local parlance as Indian Hemp or Marijuana, 1.52Kg of Heroin, 45 packs of 225mg Tramadol and other assortments of expired drugs were intercepted by the combined teams of the command in various locations.
The Command’s acting Area Controller, Comptroller Enochie Ochiba displaying the items Friday during a press briefing said the items were intercepted between July 5 to September 24, 2021. Handing over the drugs to the Apapa Commander of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA, Mr Bashir Gazama, Ochiba warned about the danger and health hazards of the indiscriminate consumption of the drugs, especially with regards to the expired medicaments.
The customs marine flagship controller said upon assumption of duty recently, he re-jigged the command’s anti-smuggling architecture, which includes the formation of the newly formed Comptroller Surveillance/Monitoring Patrol Team and the existing Coastal and Harbour Patrol, noting that the overhaul accounted for the significant improvement and successes recorded.
He explained that other items were also seized and put the total Duty Paid Value (DPV) of the seizures during the period under review at One Billion, Two Hundred and Sixty Five Million, Eight Hundred and Thirty Thousand, Eight Hundred and Nine Naira and Four Kobo(#1, 265,830,809.04) only.
His words: “Upon my assumption of office, I re-organized the anti-smuggling activities of the Officers/Men of the Command thereby consolidating on the successes of my predecessor in line with the policy thrust of the Comptroller-General of Customs.
“In view of the above, a new team code named “Comptroller Surveillance/Monitoring Patrol Team” was created to complement the efforts of our existing patrol teams cut across South Western waterways.
“ The Officers/Men have from July to date made several seizures ranging from Used foreign shoes, Second hand clothing, Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), Foreign Rice, Hard Drugs among others.”
Giving the breakdown of the seizures, he said: “On Friday, 13 August 2021, the Officers/Men of Coastal and Harbour Patrol together with the Comptroller Surveillance/Monitoring while on patrol along Kuramo Beach on the high sea accosted, intercepted and arrested sacks suspected to be Cannabis Sativa (Marijuana). Pertinently, no arrest was made as the smugglers dived into the sea on sighting the patrol team.
“The goods were brought to the WMC; upon physical examination and counting, it was found to be 232 sacks of Marijuana with an average of 46Kg per sack giving an estimated total of 10,672Kg. The Street Value of the Marijuana is One Billion, One Hundred and Twenty Million, Five Hundred and Sixty Thousand Naira (N1, 120,560,000.00) only.
“Similarly, operatives of the Command while on stop and search operations along the waterways at Pashi, off Yekeme axis on Thursday, September 9, 2021 at about 2230hrs, intercepted the heroin concealed in a carton of indomie noodles weighing a total of 1.52Kg, and valued at N40, 860,841.02.”
Ochiba also said that the Nigerian Navy Beecroft ship handed over 162 x5OKg bags of smuggled foreign rice intercepted at Lagos offshore, with DPV of 5,184,000.00, on Friday, July 9, 2021.
He continues: “On Wednesday September 15, 2021 at about 0020hrs, a patrol team while on credible intelligence along Abumbum-Ojo waterways accosted and intercepted sacks suspected to contain drugs, which was later confirmed to have expired since April 27, 2017 with a total value of N62, 252,794.00. Bundles of printed labels of Double Ginseng with Batch no. DG 04021 with MFG Date: 29042021 and expiring Date of 28042024 was also discovered with the seizures.
“The expired drugs include; 817 bottles of B-Vital, 1,158 bottles of Kordy-capsule, 3,110 bottles of Double Ginseng, 619 Bottles of Detoxin, 607 bottles of B-care, 198 Sachets of Ninhuang Jeedu pian, 1,200 sachets of St Formula, 475 bottles of Apetamin syrup, seven bottles of Spinsure tablets, 17 bottles of Danshen Plus, seven bottles of Arthro capsule, 13 bottles of Spinsore Pill, 123 Bottles of Chitomeal.”
The marine customs boss said above expired drugs would have doctored and faked with a new shelf live if they have escaped into the market, thereby hurting the wellbeing of Nigerians.
“The issue of concern in this arrest is that these expired drugs might have found its way into our Nigerian markets if not intercepted. The smuggler intend to replace the expired labels with new labels carrying new manufacturing and expiry dates as it can be seen on the bundles of printed labels of Double Ginseng accompanying the seized consignment.
“The new printed label is carrying 29042021 and 28042024 as manufacturing and expiry date respectively”, he said.
“The Command also seized 45 packs of 225mg Tramadol Hydrochloride tablets valued at N954,934.02 at the Yekeme axis on Monday, September 20, 2021 while on official patrol”, he said, adding:
“Other seizures made within this period are: 883 bags of 50Kg foreign parboiled rice; 49 sacks of used shoes; 44 sacks of new shoes; 245 Kegs x 25lus of PMS, one 40Hp Yamaha outboard engine; six bales and three three sacks of second hand clothing and bags.”
He explained that whereas a lone no suspect was arrested in connection with the heroin seizure, which was handed over to the NDLEA, Ochiba said no arrest was made in connection with the seizure of cannabis sativa and foreign parboiled rice, as the smugglers dived into the sea on sighting the patrol teams; and described smugglers as economic saboteurs.
“It is pertinent to know that the activities of smugglers is detrimental to the Nigeria’s economy and as such, the fight to salvage the Nation from the evil of smuggling is a collective one and non-negotiable, all hands must be on deck to suppress smuggling to its barest minimum.
“I enjoin the general public to always buy drugs that are certified by the NAFDAC because of the harmful effect uncertified drugs may have on their lives, you can imagine the social hazards and havoc these drugs and the Cannabis Sativa of this magnitude can cause in our societies if it was not arrested by our operatives.”
He warned smugglers not to dare his resolve to rid the waterways and creeks of economic criminal activities, saying “Officers/Men of the Command would not relent on their efforts until smugglers are out of business, we will continue to track, arrest and prosecute them in accordance with the extant laws.”