Controversy trails N198bn Tramadol seized by Customs, NAFDAC

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has reserved comment on the current status of the 33 containers of Tramadol seized by the Ports Inspection Directorate of the agency in 2018.

At the time of seizure, NAFDAC disclosed that the street value of the Tramadol was N198bn.

The large drug seizure caused a lot of sensation. About two containers that had been cleared were further intercepted at the port gate and officials of the Federal Operations Unit of Nigeria Customs Service were offered over $100,000 bribe to allow the consignment pass but the bribe was turned down.

  Pictures of the dollars were presented to the media.

This was almost one year ago.

Our correspondent sought to know what had happened to the large consignment of the drugs after more than eight months of seizure.

In December 2018, the NAFDAC Director -General, Prof Moji  Adeyeye, speaking during an event to commemorate her one year in office,  announced that the drugs were  to be destroyed.

 She disclosed that NAFDAC had in one year, destroyed sub-standard and falsified medicines, unsafe drugs, unwholesome foods and chemicals worth N3bn and that  with the support of the Presidency, the National Security Adviser’s office and sustained awareness campaign on the implications of NAFDAC’s absence at the ports, the agency returned to the ports in May, 2018.

She was reported to have said, “The agency seized and destroyed sub-standard and falsified medicines and unsafe drugs worth N3bn, including unwholesome foods and other unregulated products.

“We intercepted and destroyed 25 containers of Tramadol worth N1.7bn. There is a plan underway to destroy more than 30 containers of Tramadol and other unregistered products worth N198bn.  Three persons involved in the distribution of the banned Tramadol have been arraigned at the Federal High Court in Lagos.”

Earlier in 2019, our correspondent had gathered from an inside source who craved anonymity  that the there were plans by the Customs to sneak the Tramadol back to  the importer because of the importer’s connection to the Customs hierarchy and  people  in the service.

During an interactive session with journalists on Monday, Adeyeye told our correspondent that the Tramadol was still in custody of Customs and that the agency had no control over it because the case of the Tramadol was in court.

She said, “There is a court case around the Tramadol, so we cannot say much about it.”

The NAFDAC DG who disclosed that the agency had destroyed N2.1bn worth of drugs this year expressed confidence that the drugs would be destroyed by NAFDAC in collaboration with the Customs as soon as the case was determined.

She said she had earlier requested an update from the NCS Comptroller General, Col Hameed Ali (retd) about the status of the consignment that was still in custody of the Customs.

Our correspondent got across to the Public Relations Officer of the NCS, Mr Joseph Attah, at about 10pm on Tuesday but he responded that it would be better to call in the morning when he could consult with the legal department of the service to obtain information about the current status of the seized drugs.

He also explained that the following day, Wednesday was a public holiday and it would be impossible to get the information from the NCS office.

Our correspondent was however unable to get a response from him as of the time of filing this story.
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