By DAPO OLAWUNI
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has said that tokunbo vehicles are now high risk shipment, especially as it is being used to smuggle Colorado Drugs, a brand of cannabis sativa from Canada through the Tin Can Island Port.
The Chairman of NDLEA, Brigadier General Buba Marwa (rtd) stated this in Lagos yesterday when he paid a working visit to the National Secretariat of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA)
Marwa stated that Colorado is a brand of cannabis sativa that comes in from Canada, and that there has been a preponderance of shipment of the drug, especially from the Tin Can Island Port of Lagos.
The NDLEA Chairman who was represented on the visit by Assistant Commander General of Narcotics and Area Commander of Apapa Port, Mr Bashir Gazama stated that the agency is beaming its searchlight on imported tokunbo cars
“Where we have issues with vehicles now is because of the massive importation of Colorado, a brand of cannabis sativa that comes in from Canada.
There has been a preponderance of shipment of Colorado, especially from the Tin Can Island Port, we have the local cannabis sativa in Nigeria, but it is like walls apart compared to what is being imported”
“It is a celebrity kind of drugs that they bring in and it is so expensive.
So far, all our seizures of Colorado are seizures that are shipped in tokunbo cars, they only use the car as a cover”
“So, cars are now becoming a high risk shipment for that particular form of drugs, this is one of the challenges we are having right now, and mostly, it comes from Canada and it is very expensive”
“A seizure of it was recently made at the Tin Can Island Port.
This is what has heightened the focus on the vehicles” he said
Speaking further, the NDLEA boss said the agency has equally uncovered a new method by which smugglers launder the proceeds of their drug trafficking abroad.
He said that most of them use the proceeds from drugs to buy expensive automobiles and handsets and import them back into Nigeria for sale.
Accprding to him, “There is cashless policy all over the world, it is not easy for anybody to move money, so people are now moving money through various means, mostly illicit money”
“Automobile has been a veritable means by which they laundering money, they also use handsets. If you go to the courier services, almost on daily basis we impound handsets, very expensive iphones, one of them could be sold for half a million Naira.
They would always want to cover the source of the money”
“The implications of this is that they make it difficult for the legitimate businesses to survive, they can afford to sell it for half the price, thereby crashing the price of the market for a legitimate business owner, the same is for the automobiles, it is a poison for our economy”
Speaking earlier, National President of ANLCA, Tony Iju Nwabunike commended the NDLEA boss for his renewed war against drug imports into Nigeria.
He however lamented the stoppage of already cleared vehicles from the port by NDLEA officials, sometimes for flimsy reasons.
Represented by the National Vice President, Dr Kayode Farinto, Nwabunike stated that these delays are avoidable, as NDLEA write to shipping companies not to release containers and cargoes to the owners, thereby incuring demurrage and rent .
“We are aware that when some people export drugs abroad, the only way they come back into the country with their proceeds is money laundering. We have told the government that monitoring such laundering goes beyond when the consignment have reached our port
“We have been having daily reports of NDLEA stopping cargoes at the port, all in the name of monitoring money laundering. There is need to rejig operations of your men and facilitate trade, when the vehicles have arrived, let it be given express clearance”
“We have had situations where your men would write to terminal operators not to deliver containers or vehicles.
At the end of the day, you would find out that these delays are avoidable.
“To facilitate clearance of any container of psychotropic substances at the port is over N100million, while the value of a container is about N1 billion.
“Our people need sensitization and orientation and the only way is to partner with you” Nwabunike stated.