…Refute Claims Of Extortion On Containers
The Area Commander of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Tin Can Island Port Special Area Command, Mohammed Aminu Abubakar CN has disclosed that the Command recorded seizures of 799.95kg of cannabis indica imported from mainly Canada and USA between the period of January through August 22 of year 2023.
The said drugs intercepted within the period has street value put at 2,664,230,000 naira. While another 24kg of cocaine from a bulk cargo vessel MV Cooper Island at one of the terminals was also intercepted within the period under review.
According to a press statement made available to news men on Tuesday in Lagos, the Command debunked a reports published by an online news portal alleging involvement of operatives of NDLEA involvement in extortion of money on containers from clearing agents and shippers at the port on the watch list for drug import, adding that such allegations are completely baseless without any merit.
Stating that watch listing containers has a standard procedure that must be followed, Abubakar said :”Firstly, it is important to clarify the purpose of watch listing containers. The watch listing process is a standard procedure implemented to ensure international trade compliance and security.
“It seeks to prevent illegal activities such as smuggling, money laundering, or trafficking, among others. It is a globally recognized practice that aims to protect the interests of countries and their citizens.
“To insinuate that our organization would engage in extortion under the guise of watch listing containers is not only unfounded but also malicious. We pride ourselves on maintaining the highest ethical standards and strictly adhere to all legal and regulatory requirements
He maintained that the command maun focus is solely on promoting transparency, facilitating legitimate trade, and maintaining the integrity of the supply chain.
The Area Commander hinted that the real impediments to the federal government ease of doing business at the port are the non-compliance alongside with false declaration of cargo and concealments by the importers and traders aided by agents.
In his words “Importers and agents are expected to be honest and transparent in their activities which will make our jobs easier and straightforward.
“Unfortunately, the tendency of the importers and abetting by agents to effect false declaration and concealment have led to too numerous seizures of illicit drugs shipped into the country.
“Arrests and prosecution of many importers and their collaborators (agents) by NDLEA Tin can command is a testament that we operate in highly non-compliant environment. ”
He explained further that the watch listing process is not undertaken independently by officials of NDLEA noting that It involves collaboration with government authorities, customs agencies, and relevant stakeholders who are responsible for overseeing and implementing these measures.
He stressed that these checks and balances ensure that decisions made regarding container watch listing are based on actionable intelligence and objective risk assessments rather than personal interests.
“We strongly refute any claims of improper conduct or ulterior motives in the watch listing process. Such baseless accusations not only tarnish our reputation but also undermine the credibility of the entire international trade ecosystem.
“We remain committed to upholding the highest standards of professional integrity and will not hesitate to take appropriate legal action against those spreading false allegations.