A suspected smuggler identified as Boniface Ike, has allegedly offered an officer of the Tincan Island Port Area Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) a N50 million bribe for the release of his seized container valued at N550.3 million.
This was made known on Monday by the Area Controller of the command, Comptroller Adekunle Oloyede.
According to the Controller, the seized contraband was allegedly imported from India, adding that the suspect and one of his accomplices are detained at the command’s Enforcement Unit for investigation.
Furthermore, Oloyede was said to have confessed to being the importer of the seized containers and wanted to have a private discussion with one of the officers.
Narrating, Oloyede said, “I instructed my officers to play along; the request was granted in expectation of receiving vital information from the suspect. But to their bewilderment, the suspect pleaded for his freedom from detention and the release of the containers.
“He offered gratification to the tune of N50 million, as displayed, equivalent to $54,330 at the current exchange rate of N920. The money was collected and kept in safe custody at the enforcement unit to be tendered as an exhibit.
“On arrival of the vessel at Tincan Island Container Terminal (TICT), the containers (MRSU 592397/0 and MRKU 553432/1) were transferred immediately to the enforcement station for 100 per cent physical examination and further investigation.”
The physical examination was conducted on both containers by enforcement officers, Customs Intelligence Operatives, Customs Police, and examination officers of the terminal on Aug. 22 at about 2 pm and Aug. 23 at about 1 pm, respectively.
It was discovered at the end of a physical examination that the content contradicted the bill of lading for the container numbered MRSU 592397/0.
The bill of lading (No. 227578945) stated that the contents are electricals, ceiling fan, 36 jewels (Cooper) and chilly cutters (stainless steel plastic).
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“After examination, the container was found to contain five cartons of Timaking 120 tapentadol (Tramadol) hydrochloride carisoprodol capsules. Each carton contains 50 rolls; each roll contains five packets, and each packet contains 200 tablets,” he said.
Other contents in the containers were listed as 84 cartons of gastro-resistant omeprazole capsule BP 200mg, each carton contains 50 packets, each packet contains 10 capsules; 876 cartons of CSMIX cough syrup containing codeine (each bottle 100ml) with each carton containing 200 bottles, 50 cartons of manual grater machines, with 70 pieces per carton; and one carton of a ceiling fan.
The second container, numbered MRKU 553432/1, was found to contain 10 cartons of Super Royal 225mg (Tramadol)..
Oloyede stated: “Each carton contains 50 rolls; each roll contains 10 packets; each packet contains 10 tablets. Other contents are 105 cartons of Omeprazole Capsule BP 200mg; each carton contains 50 packets, each packet containing 10 capsules; 754 cartons of Barcadin with Codeine 100ml, and each carton contains 200 Bottles; 50 cartons of manual grater machines, 70 pieces per carton, and one carton of compo ceiling fan.”
The unregistered pharmaceutical products intercepted, according to him, were regulated products by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
He also said the importer had no required permits and certificates for importation or documents to ascertain the safety of the products for Nigerians.
Oloyede noted that the suspects, containers, and exhibit would be handed over to the agencies charged with the responsibility to regulate and prosecute offenders for crimes.
In a related development, he said the command intercepted a container found to contain frozen poultry products on Aug. 24.
According to him, the interception followed an intensive surveillance operation on a routine examination carried out at TICT on a container numbered TTNU 804678/9, which falsely declared that its contents were tangerines.
“The goods were falsely declared as they are under import prohibition (Trade). The container has been seized for the contravention of Section 233 of the Nigeria Customs Service Act (2023),” he stated.
Oloyede vowed that Customs would deploy all necessary resources and strategies at its disposal, in collaboration with other security and regulatory agencies, to check the menace of illegal importation of illicit as well as unregulated dangerous drugs and substances.