Operators Express Concern As Contraband Containers Litter Apapa Port     

• Say 40 Cont of Tramadol Lying at the Port Since Dec 2017

Following the recent interception and display of 40 containers of Tramadol by the Comptroller General of Customs, Col Hameed Ali (rtd) at the Apapa port, operators at the port have raised alarm of an increase in the number of containers loaded with assorted contraband abandoned at the port.

One of them, Alhaji Tanko Ibrahim in an interview with Shipping Position Daily last week, said that the 40 containers of Tramadol recently displayed by the Customs boss have been lying at the port since December 2017, without the owners coming forward to clear them.

He said  it was when the customs decided to open some of the overtime containers, even without the importers that it discovered the Tramadol.

Tanko said there are still a large number of such containers inside the port that have not been examined and the owners not coming forward.

He also corrected that the customs officer allegedly arrested and paraded by the Customs boss has been suspended from Apapa since last year, even before the discovery of the drugs.

Tanko who is the Vice President Western Ports of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) noted that: "Some of these Tramadol have been there since December last year, the owner of the containers could not move them because they are on watch list, and when custom sees that the owners are not forthcoming, this is why they bring them out and conduct examination and place them aside, it is not a day job".

He told our correspondent that: "In one of the containers, they said a customs officer was arrested, the officer has been on suspension, he has been on suspension from Apapa for several months, as at the time he released the container, the Tramadol was not banned, even now, the drug is not banned, it is controlled, it means that for you to import it you must have a permit. Also there is an amount of milligram you can import"

"There are other containers of Tramadol inside the port that are yet to be checked, but customs have not confirmed it, when the box have been kept for a long time, customs are watching, they would now decide to open the containers without the owner"

"There are still containers in the port, but they cannot be opened unless they have suspicion as nobody makes declaration, even at Tin Can port they are there" he said.

Corroborating Tanko, Chairman Apapa chapter of National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) Emeka Enwelu said many importers of such contraband consignments fled Apapa port and abandoned their cargoes.

According to him, Apapa port, unlike Tin Can Island Port has a very high profile and standard in terms of compliance, he alleged that the "cut and nail" jobs perpetuated in Tin Can Port cannot thrive at Apapa Port.

According to him "Most of the containers you see are under overtime list of cargoes, if you open most of these containers you would run away. Many importers today have ran to Tin Can Port"

"Apapa port has a standard that Tin Can Island cannot beat, if the type of cargoes being cleared in Tin Can come to Apapa, it would not go, Apapa port is more compliant than Tin Can, a lot of fraudulent jobs are  being carried out in Tincan" he alleged.

Alhaji Tanko, the NAGAFF Chieftain also expressed same views on compliance level of practitioners in Apapa port, he said,”in Apapa, our documentation and Tin Can are far different, there is a lot going on at Tin Can that Apapa cannot take, for example, someone can have a PAAR of N10million CIF value of 20 percent item, but he will cut it down to N5million, in Apapa this cannot happen", he said