June 1, 2022 3:57 am
•Witnesses tell court how 13.65kg Cocaine Seized from 11 Filipinos was received
Wale Igbintade and Ugo Aliogo
The Commander, Narcotics, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Ameh Inalegwu has revealed that between January and May, 2022, the agency seized 3349.25kg of assorted drugs at Lagos Inland waterways alone.
This, he said was in addition to the two commercial vessels in the General Marwa drag net for illicit drugs importation.
Inalegwu, who disclosed this yesterday, in Lagos, during the NDLEA Apapa Port Special Area Command (APSAC) Shipping Lines and Shipping Agencies, expressed frustration that shipping lines and agencies were not bothered about the content of the cargoes they bring into Nigeria resulting in false declaration.
“This attitude of looking the other way has negatively impacted the economy and security of Nigeria. From our investigations, most of you are aware of the false declaration thus collaborating with unscrupulous businessmen to circumvent the laws of the country,” he lamented.
He urged shipping lines and shipping agencies to ensure that the information on their manifests and bill of laden are not vague, in order to allow for easy investigation, while appealing to financial institutions to ensure that they carry out adequate identity check for their customers.
In her Keynote Address, the Deputy Commander, General Narcotics, Seaport Operations, Mrs. Omolade Faboyede, revealed that the exponential rise in the prevalence of drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking had prompted the federal government to take very urgent steps to stem the tide with the creation of the institution of the Presidential Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse (PACEDA) which is headed by the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the agency, Brig.Gen Buba Marwa (Rtd.).
She also stated that the committee has made some far-reaching recommendations which are currently being implementation with certain obvious results.
She added that the engagement was in consonant with the “Whole Society” and “Joined Hands” approach that are the centerpiece of the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA).
According to her, “The agency is aware of the global maritime security threat within the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) and the challenges with the various seaports in Nigeria and the sub-region.
“The shipping agencies and other maritime fleets remain the most vulnerable sector within the maritime domain. Maritime Law Enforcement Agencies (MLEAs) remains an indispensable tool and process for em-placing effective governance in the national maritime space.
In the face of emergent challenges occasioned by diverse threats and insecurities it has become to address the attendant inadequacies hindering the efforts of maritime drug law enforcement in checkmating drug trafficking and abuse in Nigeria seaports, inland bonded terminals and designated dry docks in Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, two exhibits keepers with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mr. Fredrick Atoni and Luka Zaka, yesterday told a federal high court in Lagos how 13.65 Kilograms of cocaine allegedly imported into the country by 11 Philippine citizens were kept in their custody.
[6/1, 05:43] emekamorganuwandu: The two exhibits keepers are attached to the Lagos and Apapa Special Command of the agency respectively.
The Filipinos, charged before Justice Nicholas Oweibo Oweibo were Gerapusco Fidel; Antolin Reynante; Bechayoa Edgar; Voltaire Tejero, (M), Adult, Kent Ryan; Bryan Kamos; Ralph Christopher; Maningo Dennis; Romnick Albarracin; Ervin Pabuaya and Quetua Judezar Servilla.
They were arrested on November 7, 2021, at GDNL Terminal Apapa Port, Lagos, alongside a vessel, MV Karteria.
All the defendants were arraigned before the court on May 20, 2022, on a four count-charge of conspiracy, unlawful importation and transportation of the prohibited substance.
The offences according to the prosecutors, Mr. Dinneys Owen were contrary to and punishable under section 11(b) and 14(b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
At the resumed trial of the defendants yesterday, the lead prosecutor, Owen called two witnesses – Atoni and Zaka – who were both exhibits keepers at the Lagos and Apapa Special Command of the agency respectively.
Atoni while being led in evidence by the prosecutor told the court how the seized drug was brought to the Lagos Command office by the Apapa Special Command exhibits officer, Mr. Luka, on November 16, 2021.
He also told the court that he received and kept the substance in a safe strong room.
He equally tendered all the exhibits which included a big transparent pouch, bulk of the seized drug, a big black back; a big brown envelope housing the sample of the seized drug, and three documents. All were admitted and marked as exhibits A to G.
During cross-examination by Mr. Femi Atoyebi, and Babajide Koku, the witness told the court that he was not at the scene of arrest neither was he the one that recover the exhibits.
The witness told the court that he only received the exhibits from the Apapa Special Command exhibits keeper, record and kept them in a strongroom.
Similarly, in his testimony, Luka Zaka, the Apapa Special Command exhibits keeper, told the court that he received the prohibited substance at Greenview Development Nigeria Limited (GNDL), Apapa Terminal following the arrest of the defendants on November 7, 2021.
He told the court how he tested the drug and weighed same to be 13.65 Kilograms.
He added that all he did in relation to the seized drugs was done in the presence of some officers of Nigerian Navy,
Justice Oweibo adjourned further hearing till today.