Eleven officers of the Western Marine Command, WMC, of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, have received Letters of Commendation from the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali, retired, for seizing over 10 tons of Cannabis Sativa, otherwise locally known as Indian Hemp valued at over N1.02billion.
The operatives attached to the Coastal and Harbour Patrol team of the command made the seizure in April 21, 2020 on the high sea based on intelligence. It will be recalled that the illicit drugs were destroyed on the June 26, 2020 at Falola Beach, Badagry West Local Government Area of Lagos State and was witnessed by relevant sister agencies, including the Nigerian Police, National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps; amongst other stakeholders.
This is even as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has also pledged to install a Video Tele-conferencing, VTC, Cisco Webex, equipment in WMC to support its information and intelligence sharing activities, as a reward for the command’s efficient and focused fight against drugs smuggling.
WMC Customs Area Controller, Compt. Olugbenga Peters who disclosed above told Vanguard Maritime that the CGC and his management were satisfied that the seizing officers’ acts was in line with the CGC’s zero tolerance to corruption and other vices, and deemed it proper to single the officers out for formal recognition in line with the service’s reward system.
The elated WMC boss further disclosed that arising from that impressive operation, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has also communicated its decision to install a Video Tele-conferencing, VTC, Cisco Webex, equipment to the command as a reward for the command’s efficient and focused fight against drugs smuggling.
Peters said he and his officers regard the CGC’s letter of commendation and the gift by the United Nations as a tonic booster that will propel his officers and men to do even more.
He said, “These commendations would serve as a morale booster to the seizing officers and also as encouragement to other Officers/Men of the command.
“It is worthy of note to mention here that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has recognized the WMC and they are about to install a Video Tele-conferencing,VTC, Cisco Webex, equipment that will aid our operations in the maritime industry.
He explained that the equipment is to strengthen inter agency cooperation between the Nigerian Customs Service and other maritime law enforcement agencies in the fight against piracy and other maritime crimes in Nigeria.
“Against the rising threat of maritime piracy, they provide a veritable platform to ensure effective collaboration between the Customs Service and other maritime law enforcement agencies in the implementation of the Harmonised Standard Operating Procedures on Arrest, Detention and Prosecution of Persons.
“This effective collaboration extends to Vessels in Nigeria’s Maritime Environment, HSOP-AD&P, the addendum on evidence to the HSOP-AD&P as well as provide for remote witness testimony in the prosecution of maritime cases”, adding:
“The equipment is funded under the auspices of the Government of Denmark project aimed at strengthening maritime law enforcement response to piracy and other maritime crimes in the gulf of Guinea.”
In a related development, the command recorded a seizure of a total of 1,033x 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice between July and September 2020. The seizures include 24×20 litres keg of vegetable oil, 26 cartons of ladies new slippers, 331 x20litre keg of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popularly known as petrol and 53 kegs of organic fertilizers with a Duty Paid Value of N18, 893, 545.
According to Peters, the seizures were made at various outstations of the command, including Ere, Badagry, Ojo and Idiroko.
He expressed his gratitude to the CGC and his management team and further pledged his readiness and that of his officers and men to make the western waterways “a no go area” for smugglers.
Also responding on behalf of his fellow awardees, DSC T.D Ogundipe said: “We are grateful to our CGC and his management for finding us worthy for this commendation. I will also not forget to especially thank our CAC, Comptroller Peters whose guidance, wisdom and mentorship we enjoyed, which gave us the strength and determination to go the way we went to do the right things.
“We appreciate the fact that without his fatherly role in reaching out to the management, we may not be here smiling and feeling good. We appreciate him”