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Shippers Council Boss Bemoans Systemic Corruption At Ports

As part of efforts to prevent the inflow of illicit drugs through the seaports, the Chairman/CEO, National Drug Law  a Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (rtd), has asked for more support and cooperation from stakeholders in the country’s maritime sector.
He said the anti-narcotic agency cannot fight the drug scourge alone and needs the assistance of the industry players in order to succeed in the fight to rid the country of drug traffickers and abusers.
Marwa, who made the plea at the second edition of JournalNG’s Industry Town Hall Meeting tagged ‘Towards a Drug Free Port Environment’ held in Lagos, said the NDLEA has resolved to maintain a strong presence at the Ports.
This, the NDLEA boss said the monumental drug seizures and the series of engagements of stakeholders, ranged from Bonded Terminal Owners/Operators, Shipping Lines and Agencies and other critical stakeholders within the Maritime Sector.
Marwa, who was  represented as chairman of the event by the Commander, NDLEA Apapa Port Command, Inalegwu Ameh, who delivered a paper titled “Evolving a Drug Free Port Environment: A Call for Concerted Efforts”.
Speaking, the Commander, NDLEA Apapa Port Command, Inalegwu Ameh said “the task of keeping the Ports drugs-free is the primary responsibility of the operators in the maritime industry.
“For this to happen, we must realise the fact that the economy and security of the nation rest heavily on the shoulders of the maritime industry, whereas the nexus between the economy, security and drugs is well documented.
“Stakeholders at the Ports must be able to resist the lure of lucre viz-a-viz the temptations of what illicit drug traffickers offer. No amount of money is compared with the sanctity of human life.
“Maritime operators need to elevate their level of collaboration and cooperation with NDLEA.
“The intelligent hints on the clandestine activities of these unscrupulous elements who depend on the movement of ships to ply their trade will go a long way in exposing and frustrating them. We must admit that NDLEA cannot do it alone, hence, our call for concerted efforts.
“Time was when we all raised our hands on our heads in lamenting our helplessness while our entire society is being over-run by these drug marauders.
“All hands must be on deck. We now have to adopt a ‘whole-society’ and a ‘joined-hands’ approach”, he said.

“For us to treasure the imperatives of concerted efforts, we must first of all appreciate the enormity or magnitude of the drug malady stirring us in the face”.

Meanwhile, Marwa noted that several arrests and seizures have been made aboard vessels laden with huge quantities of illicit drugs at the ports.

Between January and May 2022, a total of 3, 349.25 kilograms of assorted drugs have been seized in the Lagos inland waterways alone. This is in addition to the two commercial vessels that were seized in November 2021 in connection with illicit drugs importation, and the seizure of 74.119 kilograms (451, 807 tablets) of “jihadist drug” known as Captagon at Apapa Port.

“Apart from Cannabis sativa that is known to be cultivated in commercial quantities, the seizure of pharmaceutical opiates like Tramadol being exported from Nigeria points at something: how did these large quantities of drugs get into Nigeria?

“We can say with certainty that a huge portion of these drugs come into the Country through the waterways”.

According to the NDLEA chief, the drug use prevalence in Nigeria cuts across all ages, gender and regions, adding that a great danger threatens, especially the youths because of the drug scourge, which requires an urgent collaborative intervention.

The 2018 National Drug Use Survey revealed that 14.3 million Nigerians aged 15-64 years use psychoactive substances. That means one in seven persons had used a drug (other than tobacco and alcohol) in the past year. More worrisome is the finding that one in every four drug users in Nigeria is a woman.

This shows that a significant number of females, who are supposed to play key roles in their families and the society, are dependent on chemical substances. The findings further established that more women (2.5%) than men (2.3%) abuse cough syrup containing codeine.

He stated that women involvement in substance abuse has more implications than men, especially when the critical role of women in child nurturing and upbringing is considered.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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