…Debunks Allegation of Extortion by Clearing Agents
By DAPO OLAWUNI
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) at Tin Can Island Port command has announced that it has between January to August 2023, intercepted 799.95kg of cannabis indica (Colorado) imported from mainly Canada and USA with street value put at N2,664,230,000, as well as seizure of 24kg of cocaine from a bulk cargo vessel, Cooper Island.
Mr Mohammed Aminu Abubakar, Area Commander of NDLEA at Tin Can Port on Tuesday equally debunked allegations of extortion levelled against the command by a clearing agent, Mr Odion Solomon who in an interview with DAILY TREND on Monday, claimed that the NDLEA was extorting money from clearing agents and importers under the pretense that their containers are on watch list for drug import.
The NDLEA boss described Mr Solomon’s allegations as completely baseless and without any merit.
According to him, 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. Our focus is solely on promoting transparency, facilitating legitimate trade, and maintaining the integrity of the supply chain.
“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.
“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 Tincan command is a testament that we operate in highly non-compliant environment.
“NDLEA Tincan command has between January to August this year alone, recorded 799.95kg of cannabis indica imported from mainly Canada and USA with street value put at 2,664,230,000 naira, and seizure of 24kg of cocaine from a bulk cargo vessel, Cooper Island.
“Furthermore, the watch listing process is not undertaken independently by our organization. It involves collaboration with government authorities, customs agencies, and relevant stakeholders who are responsible for overseeing and implementing these measures.
“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.
“We urge anyone with legitimate concerns or suggestions for improvement to come forward with credible evidence through the appropriate channels.
“Constructive dialogue and cooperation are key to enhancing the integrity and effectiveness of our operations, and we welcome any opportunity to address concerns genuinely and transparently” Mohammed stated