Arrest two suspects
Police operatives attached to the Area ‘B’ Command, Apapa, Lagos, have intercepted a container loaded with tons of suspected adulterated and contraband drugs.
The container, which was shipped from Asia, had cartons of scrubbing brushes carefully packed to conceal the contraband and counterfeit drugs.
It was gathered that a police patrol team discovered the container inside Eleganza Plaza in Apapa while it was offloading the goods into another truck with neither clearance from the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) nor bill of landing of the container with number SEGU 6326800.
Suspecting that the container might have been stolen, the detectives on the instruction of the Area Commander, ACP Olasoji Akinbayo, requested to see the NSC personnel escorting it to a BCT in order to know why it was diverted to the plaza
but there was none.
Consequently, the two trucks with registration numbers KTU216XG and SNK700XV were impounded and a search conducted on them only for the police to discover abortion pills, Tramadol, cough syrups with codeine, which are contraband drugs as well as suspected adulterated GSK and other brands of medications.
Among items discovered were 997 cartons of CSD with Codeine Cough Syrup for throat and chesty Coughs with batch number CSDD-1903; 54 cartons of Tramadol tablets; 58 cartons of 250mg GSK Ampiclox Syrup with batch number YK2J; I5 cartons of 20g GSK Cicatrin (3895); two cartons of GSK CAC1000 plus (TD7L) and a carton of 125mg of GSK Amoxil Syrup (SM4X).
Others include nine cartons of 50ml GSK Septrin suspension with batch number 5M5W; 17 cartons of 10ml GSK Zentel suspension (3M9T); a carton of 156.25mg GSK Augmentin (SA38); one carton (less two bottle) of 250ml Vitaglobin Syrub Iron plus Vitamins (782); 16 cartons of 10ml Mb Chlor Chloramphenicol USP (181); 23 cartons of 50ml Maxolan Metoclopramide HCI Syrup (UB4N);
three cartons of Efrose Gynaecosid (P05) with NAFDAC registration number 04-4162; a carton of Stepsiril Comfort Original as well as 333 cartons of scrubbing brushes.
However, it was gathered that the NAFDAC number 04-4162 on Efrose Gynaecosid, a drug primarily meant for the treatment of amenorrhea but illegally used as abortion pill might be fake.
Checks by newsmen revealed that the counterfeit drugs were produced in Pakistan and a regular practice by dealers who flood Nigerian markets with lesser quality of branded medication to make profit.
It was learnt that these dealers operate with their cohorts terminal operators and corrupt NSC officers who usually assisted them to move their containers unnoticed.
It was gathered that since the interception, top ranking security officers have allegedly called the police command to beg and offer bribes, which were turned down.
Already, the police have arrested one Uchenna Oreator who claimed to be the importer and one Uche Nwankwo, said to have acted as clearing agent for the container.
According to Oreator, he got the drugs from Pakistan at cheaper rates and was introduced into the business by some operators in the market. He claimed to have gotten the consignments on credit and was expected to pay the company in Pakistan after he must have sold them.
“I am the owner of the container. I imported the drugs from Pakistan. They were not declared because we only declared the brushes. I got them way cheaper than what the manufacturers in Nigeria are selling them. I am sorry, I know that what I did was bad. It was my first time doing it. I am sorry,” he said.
Asked how the container left the APMT Terminal at the Port without relevant documents, Oreator said he did not know as his agent was the one he sent money and other necessary details to.
Police sources said that the NCS has been contacted for clarifications on the name and address of the company or individual who applied for the transfer of the container to a Bonded Terminal from APMT Terminal Apapa; copy of the approval for the transfer of the container to the Bonded Terminal; name and details of the officer, who was supposed to escort the container to the Bonded Terminal and details of NCS officers that were on duty from Saturday, July 18 to early hours of Monday, July 20, when the container was found inside Eleganza Plaza, Apapa.
Also, the Commissioner of Police (CP) Hakeem Odumosu directed that the investigating team should establish from the NCS whether duty was paid to the Federal Government if it turns out the container was not on transfer to a bonded terminal as claimed and what percentage of duty was paid on the goods declared in the bill of lading?
He also requested that NCS provides the names and details officers that inspected/examined the container including witnesses, duly signed documented records taken in the course of inspection by all who participated and if the container was stolen/diverted, evidence that it was reported and the details of the person who reported.
Confirming the arrest and seizures, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Bala Elkana said the command was in touch with NAFDAC and NCS in order to get to the root of the matter, adding that officials of NAFDAC would be required to inspect the drugs to ascertain the quality.
“It is true that police operatives at Area B intercepted a container with suspected counterfeit and contraband drugs. The CP is not taking this issue lightly especially because of the dangers such items pose to health. We have written Customs and NAFDAC. We are working with them on this case. Updates will be given later,” he said.
Contacted, spokesperson for NCS in Apapa, Nkiruka Nwala said she was not aware of the incident but would investigate and revert on Monday.