The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has said that two dockworkers wanted in connection with importation of cocaine, which weighed 32.9kg intercepted by the agency at Apapa Port.
The NDLEA has equally raised concerns that dockworkers are assisting Drug barons to pick up their illicit consignments, and help them to deliver same to their local sources.
The agency announced on Sunday 14th of November that it has intercepted a Fresh consignments of Cocaine and Heroin with a combined weight of 16.85 kilograms worth over N4.9 billion at the Apapa seaport and Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, both in Lagos.
Director, Media, and Advocacy, NDLEA Headquarters, Abuja, Mr. Femi Babafemi stated that four persons are currently being investigated for the 13.65kg Cocaine seized on board a ship, MV Karteria that came into the Apapa port from Santos, Brazil on Sunday 7th November.
Earlier, NDLEA had arrested 12 dockworkers at the Apapa Seaport in Lagos over their alleged link to the importation of 32.9 kilogrammes of cocaine worth over N9.5 billion in street value.
Babafemi said a Federal High Court in Lagos had granted an application by the agency for the interim attachment of a vessel, MV Chayanee Naree, used to import the 32.9 kilogrammes of cocaine into Nigeria through the Apapa Seaport.
He said besides the attachment order, the court also granted NDLEA’s request to detain the Master of the ship, Mr. Tanahan Krilerk, and 21 foreign crew members as well as the dockworkers arrested in connection to the case
The anti-narcotic agency had on October 13 intercepted the ship at the Apapa seaport following intelligence from international partners and support from other security forces such as the Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Customs Service, DSS, and the police. A thorough search of the ship led to the recovery of 30 parcels containing cocaine, which weighed 32.9kg.
“The application in suit no: FHC/L/CS/1518/2021, which was filed by the agency’s Director of Prosecution and Legal Services, Joseph Nbone Sunday on Thursday 28th October was granted the following day Friday, 29th October by Hon. Justice A.O. Awogboro. An application to renew the remand order was also filed on Friday, 12th November because of the volume of evidence coming out from the cooperation of the suspects in custody,” Babafemi said.
The NDLEA in the statement said its clarification became necessary following claims by the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria that some of its members are being detained unlawfully by the agency.
“Of the total number of 18 dockworkers initially being interviewed by operatives, six of them with no sufficient evidence linking them to the crime had been released while 12 others with significant links are cooperating with the ongoing investigation. In line with the intelligence available to the agency, there is a syndicate of dockworkers, crew members with apparent international conspirators who work in synergy to traffic in the illicit substances. While the substances are concealed in the shipment from the originating Port, the dockworkers assist to pick up the illicit consignment for onward delivery to the Nigerian drug barons.
“In the case of a criminal investigation of this magnitude, it is lawful and expedient to investigate those within the purview of the agency’s reasonable suspicion and those who do not have any serious involvement are let go. “Already, two dockworkers are now on the run, after absconding from their place of work, since the beginning of the investigation.
“For the avoidance of doubt, all the agency’s actions are guided by international best practices and in line with the Global Maritime Standard Operational Procedure on arrest, seizure, and detention of vessels and crew members,” the statement added.