Offside’s And The Tin-Can Island Lagos Cocaine Seizure
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
Perhaps, it is one of the biggest drug haul in recent years, which didn’t come direct from Europe or America, but from within the continent, Durban South Africa.
Whereas it became a news item yesterday, January 25, 2024, there are indications that it was already within the radar of local and international watch for awhile.
Clearly, the catch purport to have impressed itself in the consciousness of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigeria Drug and Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) particularly, as well indeed as the nation’s other critical security architecture that there might have been some sort of shift in the traditional routes, talking about the Mexican, Canadian and Scandinavian fringes within America and Europe.
In all, the Comptroller General of Customs, Bashir Adeniyi Adewale MFR had at the Tin-Can Island Command, announced the seizure of a total of 17 packets said to weigh 16.690kg and confirmed to be cocaine; 151 packets Colarado Indica weighing 107 kg; 65 packets of Colarado Indica weighing 32.5kg seized from a 1X40FT Container with No. UACU 534833/6 imported from Canada; precursor chemicals for the manufacture of crystal methamphetamine; 8bags weighing 25kg tartaric acid; One (1) piece Gen2 Air soft pistol with serial No. 471908; empty magazine; 49 rounds of 7.62 mm live ammunition; 197 rounds of 9mm live ammunition; and 100kegs of unspecified substances seized from a 1x40ft Container No. MSCU 458177/0, imported from Durban, South Africa.
Also intercepted is a 40packets weighing39.7kg substance which the CGC confirmed to be Cocaine, 1026 packets weighing 688.2kg confirmed to be Colarado Indica, Two (2) pistols without serial numbers, one pistol with Serial No. AZYSRA6YSO12101181, three (3) empty magazines, 275rounds of 5.5mm M16 Tavor live ammunition, and Six rounds of 9mm blank ammunition seized from a 1x40ft container No. THRU 796807/1, also imported from Durban, South Africa
The others include 226 packets of substances weighing 128kg confirmed to be Cannabis Indica seized from 1x40ft Container No.MEDU 785276/3, also said to be have been imported from Durban, South Africa.
While addressing the media, the leadership of the customs service put the summary of the seized substances at 56.39kg of Cocaine valued at N 2,368,380,000; 955kg of Colorado Indica valued at 1,911,400,000, and with a combined street value of N4.279 Billion Naira.
The summary of the weapons seized was given as 5 pistols and 445 rounds of live ammunition, plus several empty pistol magazines.
According to Adeniyi, the seizure was the outcome of collaboration between the narcotic agency and customs service, noting that while the former supplied the intelligence, the customs looked out for the items, said to be one of the most arduous and tricky task known to customs and the narcotic authority, worldwide.
Interestingly, the arresting authorities says they cannot at this point speak about arrests and the identity of suspects connected with it, just so they don’t create situations that may give persons connected with the smuggling the opportunity to escape likely arrest and trial.
Just before handing over the cocaine and other illicit substances to the Chairman/CEO of NDLEA, Brig. Gen Mohammed Buba Marwa (Rtd) represented by the NDLEA Spokesman, Femi Babafemi, Adeniyi expressed the hope that the narcotic agency will continue with investigation even as he gave assurances that the further investigations may eventually prove beyond expectation by having the suspects in hand cuffs.
The efficient, seasoned and affable customs boss who was in his elements was business like throughout the press briefing and showcase of the seized items, as he expressed full confidence not only in the long term gains of the collaboration, but also in their capacity to be able to continue to degrade and rout the criminal underworld, and achieve a future of safety and national security, especially for the Nigerian youth bracket, considered most vulnerable to all the ills associated with drug abuses.
Although there is no doubt that most of his submissions are enough to disturb any nation, its government and people; but there also strengths, moral and economic to also be drawn from the very deliberate and decisive steps so far taken; which reaffirms our faith in the survival of Nigeria, and in the battle of good over evil.
Given a detailed report of the seizures, he said, “We will recall that in recent months, the Nigeria Customs Service has reported a number of successfully executed multiple interceptions and seizures of illicit drugs, arms and ammunition at various locations, representing a concerted effort to prevent illegal entry into the country through diverse routes and means of conveyance. These interception operations have brought to light a concerning trend wherein criminal networks engage in collaborative attempts to subvert the competency of the agencies tasked with mitigating the entry of such illicit substances.
“Our actions underscore the persistent challenges posed by sophisticated smuggling networks, emphasizing the critical need for enhanced cooperation and advanced strategies to fortify the nation’s borders and preserve the safety and security of its citizens.
“In recognition of the threats and the collaborative nature of criminal activities, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has steadfastly prioritized strategic partnerships with stakeholders over the past seven months. This deliberate focus aims to harness the specialized expertise of our partners in a manner that enhances our capability to fulfill our core mandates.”
The customs boss also took time to dwell on the continuity of synergy between the two agencies, which he says cannot be lowered, discarded, disregarded, ignored or neglected; even as he explained the twin evils in terms of citizens’ safety and national security, propelled by the wrong uses of uncontrolled drugs and the addiction that arises from it.
“Just as criminals find strength in collaboration, government agencies must equally appreciate the advantages of working collectively to fulfill their statutory responsibilities.
“It is within this context that the ongoing collaborative efforts between the NCS and the Nigeria Drug and Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have consistently yielded positive results. This collaborative synergy exemplifies the effectiveness of pooling resources and intelligence, reinforcing the commitment of both agencies to safeguarding the nation’s borders and protecting its citizens from the threats posed by illegal substances.”
Mr. Adeniyi says, “The interplay between illicit drugs and various criminal activities, including but not limited to kidnapping, banditry, and other nefarious pursuits, is undeniable. Drugs, often serving as a catalyst, create a conducive environment for criminal elements by inducing a state of altered consciousness. These substances provide the impetus for individuals to engage in heinous acts that undermine the peace and security of our society.
“Simultaneously, the possession of arms and ammunition empowers these criminal elements, enabling them to brazenly challenge the authority of the state and its security apparatus. The nexus between drug-related activities and the arming of criminal elements underscores the critical need for concerted efforts in combating both aspects to ensure the safety and well-being of our communities.”
The amiable CGC underpinned the power of collaboration when he said no responsible government gives up on its nation and allows criminal elements to take the centre stage.
“Therefore, disrupting the link between illicit drugs, criminal activities, and access to arms and ammunition stands as a critical strategy in reducing overall crime rates.
“Suppressing drug-induced altered states and restricting criminal access to weaponry can significantly impact their operational capabilities. The interception and seizure of illicit substances, along with stringent control measures over the circulation of arms, are integral components of an effective crime prevention strategy.
“This approach aligns with the broader goal of enhancing public safety and underscores the NCS’s commitment to dismantling the foundations that sustain criminal enterprises, fostering a more secure environment for our citizens”, he enthused.
On his part, the NDLEA Chairman spoke to the synergy shared by his agency and customs as being very critical, adding that the collaboration is a strong warning to drug cartels that no matter how smart they attempt to be, the hand of the law will is long enough to catch up with them; even as he stressed the obvious reality of losing their investments to the cold stare of justice, which he says is implacable.
Represented by the NDLEA Media Director and Advocacy, Mr. Femi Babafemi, Marwa said, “Handing over of seized illicit drugs in custody of the Nigeria Customs Service is a development that speaks volumes about the hard work and diligence of security agencies tasked with securing the territory of our country. The seizure is a testament that, just like the airports, the sea ports are also secured.
“That we are here today doing this is a testament to the cooperation we received from the Nigeria Customs Service. This level of cooperation between NDLEA and Customs, as well as other security agencies and port stakeholders, is a strong signal to drug cartels that our ports and indeed Nigeria will not be a haven for their criminal business. The synergy between Customs and NDLEA would further ensure the closing of other loopholes that criminal elements may have capitalised on in the past years to smuggle illicit items into our country”, he said.
Like the CGC, the NDLEA CEO lauded the leadership, men and officers of the NCS and also expressed confidence that the collaboration will be sustained in all areas of joint responsibilities.
Commending his operatives over the successful interception of the Durban South African consignments, due largely to the exchange of intelligence, the chief narcotic officer said:
“The command and other units had diligently tracked the movement of the containers up to the time of their landing in our port. In the spirit of inter-agency collaboration, NDLEA never hesitated to share intelligence with the Tin Can Island Command of the Nigeria Customs Service and also requested that the command ensure the containers were pinned down for 100 percent examination”.
Marwa assured that NDLEA, NCS and other security agencies are committed to their unique assignment of ensuring that the country’s territorial integrity is protected at all time.
While his assurances are not in doubt in any way, perhaps his leadership style that defines partnership and engagement may require some polishing, to bring him up to speed with the required, correct official protocol due to inter agency collaboration, and the finesse required to sustain these important engagements, especially given due consideration to military and para-military discipline and ways of life.
Asking his agency’s spokesman to stand in for him, and beside the Comptroller General of Customs, analysts say was a loud and rude mix-up, not acceptable to military and para-military tradition.
Those whose business it is to know argue that whereas the NDLEA boss makes the decision to attend official duty with his counterpart in the NCS in person or in representative capacity; assigning his spokesman who is by far a junior functionary, amount to breach of discipline and mutual respect.
Pundits posit further that since the engagement was planned ahead, and given the fact that NDLEA has a pool of senior narcotic officers and management chiefs to pick from; sending his spokesman does not evince the right regards. At least, recently, the NDLEA Chairman assigned a director of operation to represent him when the CGC undertook similar briefing at its Abuja station.
According to experts, it will amount to a veiled disrespect for the CGC to send his PRO to represent him in an event the Inspector General of Police, Comptroller General of Prison or the Chief of Army Staff is billed to have a joint media session.
Therefore, they posit that the office of the CGC as well indeed the office of the NDLEA Chairman must be shielded from any form of disrespect, through careful selection of qualified and proper ranking personnel, that is also fit in all respect to function in delegated and representative capacity.
Suffice it to state that whereas the intentions of both leadership (NDLEA and Nigeria Customs) exudes mutual respect that is clearly beyond misunderstanding, the unintended consequence of the identified mismatch can be considered an innocent oversight; so long as it is rectified, heretofore.
The mutual reassurances between both leaders is no doubt infectious, not only for their operatives but so that their joint efforts, commitment and resilience can be seen to hold and consequently, to also be able to radiate the hope for a better tomorrow.
For the vast majority of peace, loving Nigerians, who are at the receiving end of the drug running malady; and its negative consequences on the security and social stability of the nation.
Speaking further on their joint mandate to curtail the odious sense of profiteering at the expense of the nation’s safety and wellbeing, Adeniyi said:
“Our relentless pursuit of justice underscores the determination to dismantle the networks enabling these criminal acts, reinforcing our dedication to upholding the rule of law and safeguarding the security and well-being of the Nigerian people”.
“NCS and NDLEA remain steadfast in our commitment to enhancing ongoing collaborations aimed at eradicating criminal elements from society. We will persist in extending intelligence, network, and capabilities both nationally and internationally. The collective objective is to thoroughly eliminate these criminal elements, ensuring the society is rid of their detrimental influence.”
Adeniyi’s conviction above to succeed is characteristically embedded in his commitment to match strategies with actions; just as observers believes that his action plans finds the strongest possible nexus in the army general, turned crime fighter.
Meanwhile, the CGC specially commended the Tin-Can Ilsnad Command Area Controller, Comptroller Dera Nnadi mni, and his officers and men for the succesful interception of the offensive consignments. While briefing the CGC on arrival, Nnadi explained that the different parcels of cocaines were separately tagged, to make for ease of identification.