Apapa Customs Command Rakes N159.5 Billion Within Three Months.

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The Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has uncovered a covert but ingenious method of some importers to bring in tramadol, a banned harmful substance.

The Area Controller of the command, Comptroller Yusuf Ibrahim Malanta disclosed that in an attempt to beat the dragnet of the customs officers and other security agents, the manufacturers of the illicit drugs, in active connivance with some fraudulent importers, now conceal the identity of the banned drugs under different names.

Malanta, while giving an account of his eventful and impactful performance of the command within the two months he took charge, said the illicit drug of tramadol now comes in different names of Gebedol, Fakadol in an effort to beat the eagle-eyed security agents at the nation’s ports.

“They now call tramadol with different names such as Gebedol, fakadol and Royal. All these are classes of tramadol.

“You can imagine the extent that people can go to import things that can destroy fellow citizens. You can see the way the drugs are concealed. If not for intelligence, we won’t be able to see it. Making money should not be at the detriment of your fellow human being.

“They are all unregistered pharmaceutical drugs, that is why they did not secure NAFDAC permit,” he revealed.

However, the command deployed the robust synergy it has created under Comptroller Malanta with other security agencies to detect and beat the importers of the illicit drugs to their game.

“With the synergy and information sharing with other government agencies, this kind of information can never pass through our eyes.

“We are profiling the importer if he has previously imported and be sure if there are others in the system,” he said.

According to him, all the importation are in breach of section 46, 47, and 161 of the Customs and Excise Management Act CAP C45 LFN 2004 and schedules 4 and 6 of the Common External Tariff.

Meanwhile, the command also grossed about N159.5 billion as import duties and other charges within the first quarter of the year.

In addition,  a total of 116 million metric tonnes of goods with a Free on Board (FOB) value of $109.6 million was exported through the Apapa port in the first quarter of 2021.

Comptroller Malanta disclosed that exports from the port were boosted by agricultural products such as cashew nuts, hibiscus, sesame seeds, and other mineral resources as well as soap, textiles, and noodles worth N41.5 billion.

The amount, he said, represented a 44.8 percent increase in duty collection compared to the revenue of N110 billion generated within the same period in 2020.

“The difference recorded was made possible because of robust stakeholders’ engagement, officers resolute in discharging their duties, and an increased level of compliance in the traders’ zone,” he said.

Speaking further, he said that the command made seizures of 28 containers of contrabands with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N1.8 billion.

He disclosed that the seized goods include unregistered pharmaceuticals such as tramadol, codeine, foreign parboiled rice, and used clothing among others.

He conducted journalists around the seized drugs in the company of the Commander, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Apapa Special Area Command, Samuel Gazama.

The Customs boss added that the command has improved on its existing collaboration with other government agencies in the areas of information sharing and other areas that will further make it difficult for perpetrators of trade malpractice to succeed in the port.