Photo: The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (middle), Comptroller Bashir Abubaka, Customs Area Controller, Apapa command (right, Comptroller Aliyu Mohammed, Controller FOU Zone A, Lagos (left) and Deputy Comptroller Joseph Attah, National PRO, NCS (second right) during the inspection of the seizures at the Apapa port.

Dedeigbo Ayodeji

The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (retd.) on Wednesday displayed 40 containers of Tramadol valued at valued at N7,318,978,065 as well as two helicopters declared as cashew nuts billed for export at the Apapa command of the service in Lagos.

Ali who conducted newsmen round the seizures stated that the items came from India.

He said that the Service achieved the feat through vigilance and intelligence gathering within the system, as well as tip off it received from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), which he described as a strong ally of the Service.

He therefore commended the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye and her management team for their collaboration in the attainment of the feat.

The Customs boss regretted that there were Nigerians who were eager to make money at the expense of human lives by bringing in such quantity of drugs that had grave consequences on health and national security adding that the importers of the items had offered a whooping sum of N150 million just to get one of the containers released to them, expressing delight that his officers rejected the bribe.

According to him, “In their criminal desperation, importers of this items offered bribes to the tune of N150 million to our officers to effect the release of just one container with promises of even bigger sums to follow in the event that their first attempt succeeds.

“The officers played along and eventually arrested three suspects with the money. Let me assure you that the on-going investigation will be thorough to bring all those remotely connected to justice”.

Ali further said that the helicopter and the aircraft seized by the Apapa command were meant for export and they were declared as 388 bags of cashew nuts, an action he said violated section 36 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), cap C45, LFN 2004.

He explained that the second aircraft, a Cessna 182A imported from the United States of America (USA), loaded in container number MRKU 4457663 was intercepted by officers of the Area Command.

He added that the aircraft which was declared through SGD No. C130308 of 09/10/2018 was seized because of the failure of the owner(s) to present: (1). End-User-Certificate from the office of the National Security Adviser and (ii) Approval from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority which according to him was in contravention of Section 46 of CEMA, CapC45, LPN 2004.

He however promised to fish out those behind export of both the helicopter and the aircraft.

“The seizures of dangerous drugs and aircraft demonstrate NCS crucial contributions to national economic and security well-being, the rejection of N150 million bribe, presents a picture of a reformed NCS whose operatives are increasingly putting national interest above selves”, he summarized.