The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on Tuesday warned shipping companies and agents against illicitly importing drugs into Nigeria.
The agency accused some multinational shipping companies of aiding in misrepresentation and colluding with unscrupulous businessmen to ship illicit drugs to Nigeria.
NDLEA Special Zone Commander, Apapa, Ameh Inalegwu, who gave the warning during a constructive anti-drug engagement with shipping stakeholders in Lagos, advised shipping companies to effectively monitor their trading systems to prevent unscrupulous businessmen from concealing illicit drugs in their shipments.
The commitment was to review shipping companies and agent business procedures.
He said the agency needed to stop the flow of illicit drugs into the country through the waterways.
According to Inalegwu, who is also the narcotics commander of the Apapa Special Area Command, approximately 3,349.25 kg of various drugs were seized from the Lagos inland waterways between January and May.
He said: “This agency has made several arrests and seizures at points of arrival and departure from inland waterways. Besides cannabis sativa grown in commercial quantities, there are concerns about the arrest of opiates like tramadol exported from Nigeria. It seems that the shipping companies do not care about the cargoes they bring to Nigeria which most of the time results in misrepresentation.
Inalegwu said this reckless attitude had a negative impact on the country’s economy and security.
“According to investigations, some shipping companies are indeed aware of these false declarations, thus collaborating with unscrupulous businessmen to circumvent the laws of the country. It is unfortunate that some information on your manifest and bill of lading is also intentionally vague, which frustrates the investigation.
“However, the NDLEA is here to tell you that the war against illicit drug trafficking through the waterways would become heated. If any shipping company or agent is caught with illicit drugs, the Nigerian Correctional Center (NCoS) would become a remains for the authors,” he said.
The Lagos State NDLEA Commander, Alumona Callys, has urged shipping company staff to have Nigerian laws designed for the maritime sector.
He said ignorance of the law would not be accepted as an excuse by a shipping company caught selling illegal drugs.