By Evelyn Usman
The Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) yesterday in Lagos, declared that the anti narcotic agency was determined to cripple activities of drug cartels on every front, in the country.
To prove this, he disclosed that 3,539 suspected drug traffickers among whom were security personnel and a well know billionaire drug baron, were arrested in the first quarter of this year, with a seizure of more than 65,916 kilograms of drugs
He made the declaration at the handover ceremony of two epenal patrol boats and other operational and training equipment by the Nigerian Navy to the NDLEA , at the Western Naval Command headquarters, Apapa Lagos.
Describing the gesture as symbolic and the beginning of an era of stronger ties between the Navy and NDLEA, he said it would also strengthen the Marine unit of the NDLEA, at protecting the nation’s waters from trafficking of illicit substances.
The NDLEA boss who was represented by the Director, Seaport Operations, Omolade Faboyede, explained that ” the synergy between the Navy and NDLEA, as exemplified by this ceremony , is a testament that we are winning the drug war on the waterfront within the broad goal of preventing drug cartels from smuggling narcotics into our country through airports, land borders and seaports.
” In our efforts to stem the tide of narcotic drugs, we have gone the extra mile. That includes the pursuit of synergy with organizations in the security sector. I, therefore, remain confident that this partnership will produce more outstanding results in our country’s fight against narcotic and psychotropic substances.
“The agency is determined to cripple activities of drug cartels on every front. We do not doubt that the combination of naval and narcotics strategies will spell doom for drug barons in the coming days.
” We have come to a point where security organisations can no longer afford to work in silos. Illicit drug trafficking , as a transnational organised crime, requires the deployment of intelligence and close-knit collaboration with key stakeholders like the Nigerian Navy and other security organizations”.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, explained that the aim of the event was to strengthen the existing synergy between both organizations, expressing hope that the gesture would further assist in the expansion and strengthening of the NDLEA, as well as impact positively on operational efficiency and capacity development, especially for its Marine Unit.
The CNS who was represented by the Chief Staff Officer, Rear Admiral Hamzat Kaoje , added that the Navy also conducted a 2-day training package for the NDLEA, on boat handling for full utilization of the two boats.
He noted that “ Nigeria’s Maritime space has its share of illegal activities which include; Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported Fishing (IUUF), illegal bunkering and trafficking of persons and contrabands,notably narcotics and other psychotropic substances. The access to international waters as a common resource has made maritime transshipment of persons and goods very appealing for both legal and illegal activities.
“Therefore, the NDLEA needs to get an adequate platform to curb illicit drug peddlers in the maritime space. The Agency reached out for the NN for support in its current expansion and strengthening efforts to fight the existing menace of drug abuse. It is on this note that the Nigerian Navy deemed it necessary to make this donation to enhance the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Marine Unit’s capacity to check illicit drug activities in the waterways. It would be recalled that in October 2021, a shipment of 32.9kg of cocaine on board MV CHAYANEE NAREE was intercepted by the Nigerian Navy with the collaborative efforts of the Interpol and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
“ Also, Nigerian Navy Ship ABA intercepted a large wooden boat containing marijuana which was transiting the Nigeria-Benin border.
“Additionally, on 19 April 2022, Forward Operating Base BADAGRY patrol boat intercepted and seized 40 bags of cannabis at Ajulo waterside which were handed over to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency for destruction. These are just some instances amongst several others where the Nigerian Navy has collaborated with the NDLEA in ensuring our waters including the hinterland, is free of illegal substances and illegal maritime activities that impinge on the security and well-being of our nation and citizens”.