The Nigerian Navy on Thursday handed over two Epenal boats, operational and training equipment to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in a bid to strengthen and enhance the agency’s marine unit capacity to curb illicit drug trafficking on the waterways.
The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, said during the official handing over at the Western Naval Command (WNC), Apapa that the Navy also conducted a two- day training for the NDLEA personnel on boat handling for full utilization of the boats.
Represented by the Acting Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), WNC, Rear Admiral Hamza Kaoje, Gambo said the gesture, in addition to strengthening the existing synergy between both organisations would impact positively on operational efficiency and capacity development for the NDLEA marine unit.
He noted that there is need for the NDLEA marine unit to get adequate platforms to fight illicit drug activities considering the illegal activities including trafficking of persons, narcotics and other psychotropic substances in the nation’s maritime domain.
“Nigeria’s maritime space has its share of illegal activities which include illegal, unregulated and reported fishing, illegal bunkering and trafficking of persons and contraband notably narcotics and other psychotropic substances. The access to international waters as a common resource has made maritime transhipment of persons and goods very appealing to both legal and illegal activities.
“Therefore, the NDLEA needs to get adequate platforms to curb illicit drug peddlers in the maritime space.
“The agency reached out to the Nigerian Navy for support in its current expansion and strengthening efforts to fight the existing menace of drug abuse. It is on this note that the NN deemed it necessary to make this donation to enhance the NDLEA marine unit’s capacity to check illicit drug activities in the waterways,” he said.
Gambo who highlighted some of the gains of the collaborative efforts between both organisations reaffirmed the Navy’s commitment to curbing criminality in the maritime domain.
“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 NDLEA. 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 NDLEA for destruction.
These are just some instances amongst several o thers where the Navy has collaborated with NDLEA in ensuring our waters are free of illegal maritime activities that impinge on the security and well-being of our nation and citizens,” he said.
In his remarks, Chairman of the NDLEA Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Rtd) who was represented by the Agency’s Director of Seaports Operations, Omolade Faboyede described the gesture by the Navy as symbolic and beginning of an era of stronger ties between both institutions.
“The Agency is determined to cripple the 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. NDLEA will continue to partner with relevant stakeholders as we tighten the noose on drug criminals.
“I am particularly pleased with the prompt response to my request for matériel that could help to strengthen the Marine Unit of NDLEA as part of a sweeping effort to protect Nigerian waters from the trafficking of illicit drug substances.
“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.
“We have come to a point where security organisations can 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 organisations. In our effort to stem the tide of narcotic drugs, we have gone the extra mile and that includes the pursuit of synergy with organisations in the security sector,” he said.
The NDLEA boss while highlighting some of the successes recorded in partnership with other stakeholders in 2021 expressed confidence that the collaboration with the Nigerian Navy will produce more outstanding results in the country’s fight against narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
“So far, our efforts in one year showed that the strategy is effective. In 2021, we recorded the arrest of more than 12,300 suspected drug offenders, including seven drug barons with 1,400 drug traffickers jailed.
“We were able also to counsel and rehabilitate 8,000 drug users and in the same period, also, we mopped up over 3.4 million kilograms of assorted drugs. Interestingly, drugs and illicit proceeds of drug crime worth N130 billion were successfully recovered.
“This year equally started on an excellent footing. We broke our first quarter operational record with the arrest of over 3,539 suspected drug traffickers (including rogue security personnel and a well-known billionaire baron) and the seizure of more than 65,916 kilograms of drugs,” he stated.