The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on Thursday, destroyed eight containers of fake pharmaceutical drugs imported into the country through the nation’s seaports.
The Assistant Comptroller General, Enforcement, Inspection and Investigation, Usman Dankingari, said the eight are part of the 48 meant for destruction over the next few days.
He made this known at the waste destruction site of the State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA), in Epe, Lagos State.
Dankingari led the customs delegation in company with Comptroller Malanta Yusuf, Apapa Area Controller, and the national spokesman of the service, DC Timi Bomodi.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC); National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the Department of State Services (DSS) were also represented during the destruction of the items
According to Dankingari, the unregulated drugs like the ones being destroyed were fueling banditry, kidnapping, and insecurity in the country.
“These types of drugs fuel banditry, armed robbery, terrorism, and insecurity in the country, and the reason the Federal Government, through the Customs and NAFDAC, regularly mop up these drugs from circulation.
“It is on the basis of this that the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), mandated us to come and destroy these illicit drugs in collaboration with other government agencies.
“For today, we are destroying eight containers of these drugs.
In total, we have 48 containers of drugs that will be destroyed in the coming days.
“These drugs came into the country as import units but were seized after an examination revealed that they are substandard and fake, don’t have expiry or manufacturing date, didn’t pass through NAFDAC regulation, and have everything written on them in foreign languages that Nigerians won’t be able to read,” he said.
He said that among the drugs destroyed are Tramadol in various brands, Diclofenac, Codeine, and all sorts of analgesic drugs that were not certified for consumption by NAFDAC.
Also speaking, an assistant director, Enforcement and Investigation Directorate, NAFDAC, Mr Kunle Ojo, explained that all the drugs earmarked for destruction did not pass through NAFDAC regulatory process.
“All these drugs have not passed through NAFDAC regulatory processes and thus are fake drugs.
“Therefore, since we cannot certify that they were properly registered by NAFDAC, we cannot guarantee their genuineness.
“We want to thank the Customs for not letting these substandard drugs get into the market because they can cause a lot of health hazards to the unsuspecting public.
“It can cause health hazards like Cancer, liver problem, kidney problem and so many more,” he said.
Also, Yusuf said that the drugs flout sections 46 and 47 of the Customs Excise Management Act (CEMA), and therefore are liable for seizure.
“To ensure they don’t get into the society, we are destroying them all, 48 containers in number.
“Before the end of the week, we should be done with the destruction process,” Yusuf said.
In another development, the Nigerian Navy says it has handed over to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), 70 out of 147 vessels arrested over illegal oil bunkering and crude oil theft.
Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogala, Director of Lesson Learnt, said this at the resumed investigative hearing of the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on the fuel subsidy probe on Thursday, in Abuja.
The newsmen report that the subsidy regime probe is from 2017 to 2021.
He said the Nigerian Navy did not have the power to prosecute arrested vessels, adding that arrested vessels and persons were usually handed over to security agencies and in most cases EFCC.
“From our record, 70 have so far been handed over to EFCC out of about 147 vessels that were arrested while others were handed over to other agencies,” he said.
He said that a total of 14 vessels arrested were handed over to the owners who had been acquitted of the cases against them.
He said in the records of seizures made in respect of petroleum products arrested over illegal oil bunkering and crude oil theft, a total of 127 vessels were involved in different forms of offences.
He said that a total of 40 vessels were arrested particularly in 2017 and 9 in 2021, adding that it had provided details of the vessels arrested including the ones handed over to the prosecuting agencies.
He said this included those released to the owners within the same period
“Now to the record of prosecutions, in respect of arrest made during the seizure, Nigerian Navy does not have the statutory responsibilities or power to prosecute arrested vessels.
“Arrested vessels and persons are usually handed over to security agencies in most cases EFCC.”
He said the NNPC and the Pipeline and Product Monitoring Company (PPMC) usually sent copies of letters with details of vessels permitted to lift oil products in and out of the country to the Nigerian Navy.
According to him, a total of 10,489 such letters were sent to the Nigerian Navy in 2020 and 2021 alone.
“The Nigerian Navy wishes to state that we remained resolute to carry out our constitutional mandate and other assigned mandate and always available and ready to provide information.”
Rep. Mark Gbila (PDP-Benue) a member of the committee, said that the divulgence of additional information by the navy showed some level of patriotism.
“The Navy, I believe, should have its own authentic verifiable information.
“I have not seen the name, location and ownership details of the vessels in the information provided and this will help due diligence in the investigation.”
He said that the committee needed details on the import of fuel, crude and owners of vessels, adding that the information did not clearly indicate the agency the vessels were handed over to.
He said that the record of owners and content of the vessels were not stated, including the arresting unit and data nomination centres from 2017 to 2021.
Rep Cook Olododo (SDP-Kwara) also asked the Navy for its views on the way the agency was handling the arrested vessel.