…As Customs, NAFDAC destroy N14.7bn tramadol, other illicit drugs in Ogun***
Any hope in the present dispensation to end the influx of fake drugs into the country may remain a mirage for now, as the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) confirms that the nation’s borders are seriously porous, with about 1,400 illegal and unmanned routes.
The agency’s Director of Public Affairs, Mr Abubakar Jimoh highlighted this in on Wednesday in Abuja, while expressing concern over what he termed “porous nature of the country’s borders,”, which enables easy smuggling of contraband foods and drugs; just as the Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC), Retired Col. Hammed Ali, on Wednesday highlighted that the Service has destroyed various pharmaceutical products, including tramadol with a Duty Paid Value of N14.7 billion.
Consequently, Jimoh said “the vulnerability of the country’s borders made it possible for other countries to see Nigeria as dumping ground”, adding that because Nigeria has 1400 illegal routes, through which foods and drugs can be smuggled in, “we are vulnerable and all sorts of things find their way into the country”.
He noted that the agency’s Pharmacovigilance Department in charge of
post marketing survey which monitor goods coming into the country was doing its best toward surveillance.
He said that the department often embarked on surveillance to get intelligent information needed to stop illegal importation of food items and drugs into the country.
He noted that “the department was created to ensure that goods that did not pass through the normal channels were seized and those behind it were apprehended.”
The director stated that some of the culprits arrested had been arraigned to deter others who might want to do same.
Meanwhile, the Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC), Retired Col. Hammed Ali, as if to buttress NAFDAC’s position stated on Wednesday, that the service destroyed various pharmaceutical products, including tramadol with a Duty Paid Value of N14.7 billion, with NAFDAC.
Ali said this when the Joint Committee on Drugs destruction of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) with the other sister agencies destroyed consignments of tramadol and other illicit drugs at a dump site in Shagamu, Ogun.
He urged Nigerians to support the Federal Government in the fight against importation of illicit drugs.
Ali, who was represented by the Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs, (ACG), Kathleen Ekekezie, Zonal Coordinator of Customs, Zone “A” Lagos, commended the efforts of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and other sister agencies represented at the site.
According to him, both the NCS and NAFDAC have an enforcement of drugs department, noting that the department was carved out of both agencies for synergy on their primary assignment.
“I appreciate the importance of the committee for their commitment and due diligence exhibited so far in conducting this important national assignment, which is considered to be a service to humanity.
“The seized items to be destroyed were intercepted at various Customs formations across the country. The menace of such drugs in our society cannot be underestimated, having caused a huge negative impact both on our economy and human life.
“I call on all and sundry to assist officers of the Nigeria Customs Service and other relevant security and regulatory agencies by providing real time information to fish out the perpetrators of this negative act of smuggling dangerous drugs and bring them to justice,” Ali said.
He urged the media to continue to educate the general public on the dangers associated with smuggling of contraband, specifically controlled and restricted drugs.
The Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs, Comptroller, Aminu Dahiru, Chairman, Joint Committee on Destruction of seized Drugs, commended NCS and NAFDAC for the joint operation.
Dahiru urged Nigerians to partner with Customs and other security agencies to stop importation of illicit drugs.
He said the event was the first in the series of seized drugs to be destroyed in the country, and that others would be carried out at the Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Bauchi Zones of the Nigeria Customs Service in due course.
He said the drugs destroyed were a fraction of the numerous seizures already handed over to NAFDAC and NDLEA for destruction in the past.
Dahiru said the seizure by the Customs officers was not without threats, attacks, maiming and even killings of officers.
Director Pharmaceutical Service of Ogun State, Dr Pharm Olufemi, who represented the Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun, commended the committee for the destruction of the 225mg of tramadols and other dangerous drugs in the society.
According to him, Ogun State has zero tolerance on drug abuse because it endangered the future of the youth.
He said Ogun State, through the enforcement committee, had been going round to sensitise the youth and secondary school students on the danger inherent in taking illicit drugs
Olufemi said the Federal Government spent over N2.5 million per person on psychiatric care, and that the state was ready to collaborate with various organizations as well as the media to sensitive public on the danger of illicit drugs.
Also speaking, the representative of NAFDAC, Dr M.D Eimunjeze, commended the efforts of the Customs on the collaboration. He said the agency looked forward to greater support in the discharge of its duties.
Eimunjeze said the issue of abuse of drugs was critical to the society because also it had far reaching implications, which may not be counted in monetary terms.
The items handed over to the regulatory agencies from across the South West zone were destroyed in the presence of other regulatory and security agencies.
The agencies present were: NAFDAC, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), NDLEA, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigerian Police and Ogun State Environmental Protection Agency (OGEPA), among others.