Nigerian customs official gets promotion for rejecting $412k bribe to traffic drugs

Mildred Europa Taylor March 19, 2019
Nigerian customs official who rejected $412,000 bribe promoted.

As concerns grow over the dozens of customs officials who are usually charged with taking bribes in most parts of the continent, a Nigerian customs official is in the news for the right reasons.

Bashir Abubakar, the Comptroller of the Apapa area command, has been promoted by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) for rejecting a whopping $412,000 (N150 million) bribe.

Abubakar, who has now been moved to the rank of Assistant Controller general, was offered the said amount by drug traffickers to import 40 containers loaded with Tramadol, Pulse Nigeria reports.

He and his team, however, rejected the bribe and seized the 40 containers of Tramadol from India.

When news of the intercepted containers broke last November, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col Hammed Ali (retd), said: “The rejection of N150 million bribe, presents a picture of a reformed NCS whose operatives are increasingly putting national interest above selves.”
The Customs boss added that the 40 units of 40ft containers laden with Tramadol and other pharmaceutical products have a Duty Paid Value, DPV, of N7.318 billion.

He said: “The Service is not only making concerted efforts to ensure that only maximum revenue is collected, but also to safeguard the security and well-being of the citizenry. “It is in line with the determination to fight this ugly trend that the Apapa Command of the Service intercepted 40 X 40 feet containers, mostly from India. In their criminal desperation, importers of this items offered bribes to the tune of N150 million to my officers to effect the release of just one container with promises of even bigger sums to follow in the event that, their first attempt succeeds.” The Officers played along and eventually arrested three suspects with the money.”

The retired army colonel added that the drug importers had also promised to pay bigger bribes should their first attempt succeed.

Ali had recently touted some of the feats his outfit had chalked even though most senior customs officers had said there was still rot in the system.

Sources complained to Premium Times in March 2017 about the extent of corruption and inefficiency in customs operations at the ports. They further highlighted the lack of equipment to facilitate their operations.

In the midst of these concerns, it is commendable the stance taken by Abubakar and his team last year, a significant step in the fight against corruption.

Besides, the use of drugs in Africa is a growing concern and in particular the access and use of Tramadol.

Tramadol is a synthetic drug used to treat moderate to severe pain. The opioid medication rewires your brain in responding differently to pain. It also makes the patient more susceptible to addiction. Other negative side effects include nausea, seizures, and restlessness.

Doctors without Borders or Médecins Sans Frontières categorize Tramadol as an essential narcotic.

According to the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programmein 2015, “the Nigerian government’s Inter-Ministerial Committee on Drug Control released a National Drug Control Master Plan (NDCMP). The plan calls for a strategy that balances enforcement and interdiction efforts with ‘drug demand reduction’ in a manner that respects human rights and gender equality.”

“The law enforcement pillar of the plan acknowledges that the targeting of low-level drug dealers and users tends to be ineffective and even counterproductive in addressing drug supply chains, and emphasises investigations that target “mid- to high-level suppliers and producers of drugs.”

Clearly, there is a problem. The aforementioned report states that Tramadol usage occurs in every state in Nigeria and usage is high.

Some experts say that the drug should be banned from import into countries with no regulations regarding its use. Others believe that Tramadol should only be available at the hospital under the strict monitoring of a physician.

Last Edited by:Victor Ativie Updated: April 9, 2020


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