The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, has said it is staying put at the Nigerian seaports to guard against drugs trafficking, despite the recent ban imposed by the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA.
NPA’s Managing-director, Hadiza Bala Usman said last week in Lagos that the trio of NDLEA, SON and NAFDAC would no longer be allowed to partake in seaport activities, as a way of implementing the Executive Order on ease of doing business signed by the acting president Yemi Osinbajo.
But in a statement, NDLEA chief executive, Muhammad Abdallah said they have set wheels in motion to take legal action against any act of misinformation calculated to obstruct its activities at the seaports.
“The operation of the NDLEA at the seaports is statutory and it is pertinent to set the records straight. This clarification is imperative in the light of conflicting reports intended to mislead members of the public on the official position,” Mr Muhammad said.
The anti-drug trafficking agency had claimed last week that its activities at the ports had been endorsed by the Federal Government in an Executive Order issued by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, against the perception of NPA.
But Mr Abdallah, a retired Army colonel, warned that serious government business, such as the number of agencies approved to operate at the seaports, must not be treated with levity.
He said any person or group of persons trying to misinterpret the Presidential Executive Order for selfish reasons would be dealt with in accordance with extant laws.
“There are official documents to this effect and members of the public are advised to discountenance statements that lack credence.
“I wish to state unequivocally that NDLEA has the mandate of the Federal Government to carry out full counter-narcotic activities at the seaports. As a responsible agency of government, we consider the misrepresentation of facts as a slight on the Presidential Executive Orders on the ease of doing business,” he said.
The agency said Section 8 (1b) of the NDLEA Act empowers it to work in collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service in monitoring the movement of goods and persons in any Customs area, Customs stations, Customs ports or Customs airports and searching cargoes and incoming and outgoing vessels, including pleasure craft and fishing vessels as well as aircraft and vehicles and, when appropriate, searching crew members, passengers and their baggage.
The NDLEA boss said they are operating at the seaport in compliance with the law and Federal Government directive and any attempt to violate the directive would be considered as a conspiracy to advance the nefarious activities of drug cartels to the detriment of national security.
“The interest of Nigeria must remain paramount above every other consideration,” he said. “No one agency can succeed in isolation, we must learn to collaborate, share intelligence and embrace latest technology in promoting government’s policy of facilitating trade and encouraging Foreign Direct Investment,” he said.