Onne Customs seizes over N395mn fake drugs, rakes in over N103Bn revenue

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The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Onne Customs Command, Rivers State, says its anti-smuggling activity so far in has led to seizure of 9 x 40’ containers carrying 8,245 cartons of fake pharmaceuticals consisting of 250mg of Tramadol and Tramaking and other anti-malaria and analgesic drugs falsely declared as pressure reducing the PVC valves. The total Duty Paid Value (DPV) of the seizure of pharmaceuticals amounting to ₦395.1mn

“We are particularly delighted by this seizure because we recognize the harmful effect they have especially on our youth and the current national challenge of substance abuse. The cargos were imported from China and India”, the Customs boss declared.

He acknowledged that, “the Federal Government has placed heavy priority on agriculture with a view to making the country self-sufficient in food production. This command has been faithful in aligning towards the same policy. From January to date, 8 x 20 foot containers of rice from Thailand were seized. These containers were falsely declared as sewing machines with the intent of evading the law. I am glad to report that they have been seized and duly condemned in a court of law”.

According to him, “the Total Duty Paid Value of consignments seized so far in the first quarter of 2018 amounts to ₦460,004,053.48. Indeed we are resolute in our determination to bring to an end the nefarious act of the illicit trade in fake pharmaceuticals and other dangerous goods, the consignments have been duly inventoried and the Command in line with its mandate has already liaised with the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control NAFDAC for further action”.

He stressed, “We have consistently maintained our policy of zero tolerance for any activity that would jeopardize the well-being of Nigerians and have remained steadfast in our commitment to achieve the goals of the Nigeria Customs Service in terms of revenue generation and anti-smuggling”.

The Custosm said for 2017 and two months in 2018, the command witnessed a revenue boon as it has recorded over ₦105.1bn from imports and anti-smuggling activities within the last 14 months.

In a press briefing with journalists at the Onne Customs Area 2 Command, the Area controller, Comptroller Abubakar Bashir, disclosed that in 2017, the command was given a target of ₦112,500,626,038.50 of which it was able to generate ₦93,671,449,437.27 or 83.26% of the expected total revenue and made 26 seizures with a Duty Paid Value of ₦470,011,478.38.

The CAC stated that this year the Command was given a revenue target of ₦117,811,628,817.11. So far we have generated ₦11,436,381,551.50 in line with the mission and vision of the service, the command had once again resolved to improve on the achievements of 2017 `by displacing greater diligence in all its activities for 2018.

In the same year, the command was able to introduce training programmes for its officers and men, and stakeholders. It also initiated and co-facilitated a seminar in the Oil and Gas Free Zone entitled “Improved service delivery” which helped to inform the command about the challenges faced by operators within the zone as it worked closely with the other government agencies to fully implement the presidential directive on the ease of doing business.

Bashir stated that the Command’s achievements last year was due to its efforts in training and retraining officers and other stakeholders on IT compliance and modern customs procedures adding that it also deployed dispute resolution procedures for trade facilitation, and by maintaining an open door policy this command was able to get direct feedback on the effectiveness of its operations.

Also on export, the CAC said so far in 2018, the command had processed various oil and non-oil exports with a Free on Board (FOB) value of $90,800,000.00, pointing out that this was again laudable as the Federal Government’s business policy is also focused on encouraging exports in order to maximize the benefits of accessing the international market.

“Our activities in the period under review have been under scored by consistent and cordial engagements with other government agencies like NAFDAC, Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), NIMASSA and others. These engagements have led to the sharing of vital information that has proven to be useful at crucial moments”, Bashir said.

He also noted that, the command works in synergy with all other customs units like the Custom Intelligence Unit (CIU), Valuation, Post Clearance Audit (PCA), customs Police and recently the newly constituted “Strike Force” team. All these units have been functioning in tandem to achieve maximum compliance in 100% examination of cargo and increased revenue generation.

On the seized pharmaceutical drugs, the CAC said though there was no arrest of any suspected importer but the import was detected through the service Automated System and through privilege and classified security information, the Command is pro-active to bit some recalcitrant importers and their agents to their game.

He said the Tramadols came in 200 milligrams per pack and other drugs that came through the Onne Port uncustomized, pointing out that even the Authority of the NAFDAC denied knowledge of the import, saying that the volume of the seized goods was the highest seizure the Command made so far since he assumed duty in April 2017.

“The activities of the Nigeria Customs Service cuts across all facets of life in the sense that, when we seize items like elephant tusk; we are actually engaged in protecting wildlife and natural habitats. When we seize rice and other banned food items, we are actually engaged in enhancing the capacity of local entrepreneurs to employ Nigerians, improve local food production and achieve self-sufficiency in agricultural growth. When we seize arms and ammunition, we are actually engaged in enhancing national security and promoting peace and harmony in the society. All we therefore need from Nigerians is their support so we can diligently perform our activities and successfully achieve the objectives of our service”, the CAC explained.