A 26 years old man, Emmanuel Peter, has been arrested by the police in Bauchi State for “producing fake codeine.”
According to the police, Mr Peter specialises in the mixing of substances which he packages as codeine and sells to his customers.
The accused was arrested at his hideout in Gwallameji area of Bauchi State, the police said. An accomplice, Victor Oguwu, is now said to be at large.
The police spokesperson, Datti Abubakar, said the suspect was caught in a hotel room at Las Pasca Lodge filling empty bottles with a creamy dark substance that smells like cough syrup.
“Items recovered from Mr Peter and his accomplice comprises 71 bottles of locally produced codeine, 30 bottles of Tutolin, one pot of codeine already awaiting refilling, over a hundred empty scavenged bottles, 60 bottle caps, and 120 sticker tags,” he said.
Mr Abubakar, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said the case is under investigation.
When questioned by journalists, Mr Peter said he was ‘innocently dragged into’ the crime.
According to him, he just graduated after serving his master with the hope of setting up his own pharmacy. He said Mr Oguwu contacted him and said he would provide some drugs to help Mr Peter start his new drug dispensing store.
“I never knew the package I paid N140,000 to collect at the GUO transport terminus was containing yet-to-be bottled syrup,” he said.
‘When I called him to complain, the person who sent it said that was how it is normally supplied that I should find where to get the corking machine to seal the bottles. It was in the process of doing that I was caught and arrested on Thursday, 13th June.”
He could not explain how he was able to gather over 100 empty syrup bottles and the 120 codeine syrup label tags found in his possession.
He pleaded for mercy and admitted he had committed a crime.
The Nigerian government had in 2018 banned the issuance of permits for the importation of codeine as an active pharmaceutical ingredient for cough preparations. The government says codeine is being abused as a hard drug by many Nigerians across the country.
Apart from Mr Peter’s arrest, the police in Bauchi also announced the arrest of 50 people for armed robbery, cattle rustling and vehicle snatching in various locations of the state.
The police spokesperson said 30 of them have been charged to court, while investigations are still ongoing in other cases.