NDLEA Commander, Apapa Special Area Command, Mr. Inalegwu Ameh (standing with Mrs. Faboyede to his left) at the occassion.
Story by Dili Utomi.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) this after met with operators of shipping companies, agencies and terminal operators in order to inform and educate them about the effects of drug abuse, the modalities for preventing them being used as means of transporting illegal drugs and also the importance of making honest declaration of all substances that are shipped into the country in order to curb and probably put a stop to the menace of drug abuse in the country.
The event took place at the Rockview Hotel Apapa with various members of the military, paramilitary and other agences of government in attendance as well as shipping companies, agencies and terminal operators and the members of the public. The Commander Apapa Special Area Command of the agency Mr. Inalegwu Ameh while presenting the opening address said that the need to solve the puzzle on how huge quantities of illicit drugs continue to find ways into this country has necessitated constructive engagement with relevant stakeholders as he noted that this is the second in five phase series of meetings aimed at a “Joined Hand” approach to sanitise the Nigerian society. Mr Ameh noted that between January and May this year, a total of 3349.25kg of assorted drugs have been seized in the Lagos Inland waterways alone. He added that the programme is about the need to re-examine the shipping companies and their allies’ business engagement procedures as it seems that they are not bothered about what they bring into the country which are sometimes under false declaration. He pointedly accused the shippers of deliberately collaborating with importers to bring in Illegal substances while looking the other way and causing so much negative economic and social problems for the country. He advised that shipping agencies and their allies partner with the agency to frontally tackle the drug scourge as he noted that coordinated response is in dire needed.
Some members of the Nigeria Armed Forces and the Police at the occassion.
The Director, Seaport Operations, Mrs. Omolade Faboyede in a keynote address said “That the exponential rise in the prevalence of drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking has prompted the federal government to take very brisk steps to tame the tide”. This she said was done by the institution of the Presidential Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse (PACEDA) Which is headed by the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the NDLEA, Brig.Gen Buba Marwa (Rtd.) and that they have made far-reaching recommendations now under implementation with certain obvious results. She added that the meeting is in consonant with the “Whole Society” and “Joined Hands” approach that are the centerpiece of the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA).
Some of the shippers present asked questions about what they can do in order to properly partner with the agency and again what the relationship between the agency and the Nigeria Customs Service is since they are all government appendages that should work hand in hand. They also asked for proper information dissemination as sometimes letters are sent to shipping companies with same letter not being sent to the terminal operators. Generally, the shipping companies and agencies said that the meeting is the right step in the right direction and that they are willing to cooperate with NDLEA to rid the nation of the scourge of drug abuse.
A cross section of participants at the event.
In an interview with Dr. Mike Egbayilo, special adviser to the Apapa local government chairman on youth and sports, he noted that drug abuse is a monster eating into the fabrics of society and that the need for advocacy is very imminent and that we need to reach our primary and secondary schools to teach them about the dangers of drug abuse.
On his own part, Mr. Inalegwu Ameh talked more about the whole ‘society approach’ which tends to put the responsibility of educating the society about the ills of drug abuse on everybody. He also added that the NDLEA has been enjoying huge collaboration from the Customs and other government agencies as he he commended the synergy among them all.
Mr Inalegwu Ameh fielding questions from participants.
On her part, Mrs. Faboyede said that the major essence of this meeting is for shipping companies/agencies to be their partners in the war against illicit drug importation while also noting that the engagement continues to Schools, Mosques, Churches and other public places so that ignorance may not be an excuse.
The Lagos stated commander of the NDLEA, Camillus Alumona during an interview said that he thinks that this programme as well as others put in place to sensitise the people will work in reducing the incidents of drug abuse to the barest minimum as he hopes that parents will pay more attention to their children’s care. He noted that within the past one week that they have arrested over twenty five persons either for drug sale or abuse and added that with the kind of efforts being put in, the war against illicit drugs can be won.
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