By Emmanuel Elebeke
The British Deputy High Commission in Lagos, working in association with the UK Border Force, Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the National Crime Agency (NCA), have donated a Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
The Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boat was presented to the NDLEA Chairman, General Mohammad Buba Marwa by the British Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos, Ben Llewellyn-Jones on the US Consulate General’s Jetty in Walter Carrington Crescent, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The US Consul General, Claire Pierangelo and the Director of Sea Ports, Omolade Faboyede were also in attendance during the handover.
The provision of this fully operational rigid inflatable boat (RHIB), according to the Commission will greatly improve the NDLEA’s already effective capability to patrol and intercept vessels of interest and detect criminality that operates in and around the waterways surrounding Lagos.
The deployment of the NDLEA patrol RHIB, it said will deter criminals and reduce maritime crime such as drug smuggling, piracy, robbery and kidnapping.
Smuggling represents a significant risk to Nigeria, which is a major transit route for large volumes of illicit drugs and trafficked people transported by West African organised crime gangs (OCG’s) in sea freight and commercial vessels to Europe. For example, an estimated 125 tonnes of cocaine flows into West Africa each year destined for European markets. And in 2018, 48% of human trafficking victims identified in France were Nigerian, and 80% of all female Nigerian migrants in Italy were likely to fall into the hands of sex traffickers.
The donation is one element of the UK Border Force’s strategy to develop our capacity building activity in Nigeria and is an extension of the UK’s longstanding and successful cooperation with the NDLEA in the fight against organised drug crime in Nigeria.
Drawing on the UK’s experience of the cross and multi-agency co-operation and working alongside international partners such as the US, the UK has been working closely with the Nigerian authorities to address the wide range of challenges of illegal criminal activity for many years.
In 2020, the UK’s close working relationship with the Nigerian authorities led to the seizure of over 30 tonnes of cocaine, codeine and tramadol at Nigerian seaports, and in 2019 approximately 25 tonnes of cocaine seized in the Gulf of Guinea from vessels destined for Nigeria and neighbouring West African countries.
Speaking at the unveiling event the Head of Mission at the Deputy British High Commission in Lagos Ben Llewelyn-Jones said: “Sadly, we know that Nigeria and specifically Lagos port can be both a destination point and a transit location for illegal goods and the illegal movement of people. We have already seen the significant impact that Nigerian law enforcement can have to tackle these crimes.
“We saw this effectiveness as recently as November 2020 at a Lagos beach where the NDLEA Marine Unit seized 704 kilos of cannabis from a fishing vessel that had arrived from Ghana. Many of the illegal goods that enter or pass through Nigeria are destined for Europe and the UK. So, it is also in our interests to continue our longstanding co-operation with the NDLEA and other Nigerian law enforcement agencies more broadly.
“We hope this vessel and the wider effort and support we are giving, working with the NDLEA and other Nigerian agencies, can help to tackle crime effectively and help to bring the perpetrators of such crimes to account. We would like to especially thank the United States of America’s Consulate General for the use of their Jetty for today’s official handover ceremony.”
U.S. Consulate General Lagos, Consul General Claire Pierangelo said: “I am happy to be here with our great partners, the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency, as well as our British partners, the United Kingdom Border Task Force, to highlight the great cooperation we have at the Nigeria seaports to investigate transnational criminal organisations. We work very hard to combat transnational crime and the illicit trafficking of goods in all forms – including narcotics, weapons, human, and wildlife trafficking – which presents a major security and economic challenge for the United States, Nigeria, the UK, and our allies.
“I would like to applaud the tremendous collaboration between these three law enforcement agencies that led to the seizure of thousands of pounds of narcotics, including Marijuana and Tramadol, and wildlife species products, such as elephant tusks and pangolin scales from Apapa and Tin Can ports. With the addition of this boat donation to NDLEA from the UK Border Task Force, we look forward to continuing and increasing our joint collaboration to combat transnational crime.
“As you know, a few weeks ago, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration signed a historic MOU with the NLDEA to further strengthen and deepen our cooperation. We salute them for their great work.”