Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court Lagos yesterday ordered the destruction of 14 containers loaded with a proscribed drug, Tramadol, confiscated at Apapa Wharf, Lagos, by the Nigeria Customs Services (NCS). The court gave the order while granting an ex parte application filed before the court for the order of condemnation of the said drug by the NCS’s lawyer, Mr Ogunlowo Bisi.
Bisi said the order sought from the court was brought pursuant to order 26, rule 8(1) of the Federal High Court (civil procedure) rules 2009 and provision of sections 167 and 169(1) and schedule 3 of the Nigeria Customs Services Management Act Cap. C.45 of the Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
NCS had asked the court for an order authorizing it to destroy the content of all 14 containers as listed in the schedules marked “A” annexed to the affidavit in support of the motion be condemned as forfeiture to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
After listening to Bisi’s submission, Saidu said: “I have listened to the submission of the counsel as well as gone through the affidavit in support of the application and the written address and the attached exhibits. The application is hereby granted as prayed.”
NCS, in an affidavit in support of the ex parte application deposed to by Dabaj U. H, an Assistant Comptroller of Customs (AC), stated that in the course of effecting the assigned role and carrying out their official duties, Customs personnel, particularly between February 20, 2018 and September 28, 2018, intercepted and apprehended from smugglers of all the goods itemized and specimen in the schedule hereto annexed to this affidavit for various Customs offences and contravention of the provision of the Customs & Excise Management Act (CEMA) while perpetuating such unlawful acts.
He also stated that apart from acts of smuggling and fraudulent evasion of duty, the defaulter brought in outright unlawful and prohibited items, which are so classified by the Customs Law and provisions. He added that Ogunlowo, S. B. informed him that because of the severity of the penalty and sanction attached to the offence, the smugglers and the defaulter along with their collaborators have refused and/or failed to come forward to claim the goods most of which are Tramadol, from the Nigeria Customs Services, thereby abandoning same to date.
He also stated that from the dates of seizure of the said drug, nobody has come forward to claim ownership and that an order of this honourable court is required to empower the Nigeria Customs Service Board to destroy and dispose of the Tramadol contained in all the containers.
The deponent also stated that according to the information given to him by Ogunlowo, it informed and verily believed that searches has been conducted in the court registry and that there is no evidence of any actions pending against his employer in respect of the items hereby sought to be condemned as fortified to the applicant. He added that it would be in the interest of justice if the application is granted, as refusal to so grant will certainly aggravate the deterioration of the said Tramadol and thereby constituting serious health problems and environmental hazards to the people at the ports and, ultimately, to the detriment of the Federal Government of Nigeria.