NAGAFF lauds NDLEA at 30, demands Human Rights Desk to address abuse of suspects


The National Association of Government approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has said that the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) deserves 30 big cheers having been a catalogue of success stories over the past 30 years with a record of clipping the wings of drug offenders, both local and international; smashing and truncating international networks of drug cartels and removing the name of Nigeria from the black book of notorious drug nations towards making Nigeria a drug free and crime free society.

The Secretary General of NAGAFF, Mr. Dipo Olayoku who made this observation in a congratulatory message to the agency on the occasion of its 30 year celebration said that NDLEA had shown that its vision and mission remained paramount on its mind.

Olayoku noted that against the backdrop of the vision and mission of the agency, NAGAFF could say confidently that the agency had manifested magnificent capability and capacity to deal deadly blows on the menace of drug abuse and its attendant fallout in the Nigerian society.

While stating that some of the achievements recorded by the NDLEA would suffice, he said, “Prior to the establishment of the Agency, drug offenders go about their illicit activities with confidence, and without fear of apprehension. Drug trafficking and drug abuses were rampant all over the Nigerian landscape. As a matter of fact, Nigeria and Nigerians gained notoriety across the world, over drug trafficking and drug related offenses. Even at a point, our dear country became a transit hub in the ring of international drug cartel.

“That was the scenario before the coming of NDLEA. Now the story has changed. Drug offenders now hide to perpetrate their nefarious activities. The long arm of the NDLEA is now fishing out drug offenders anywhere in the country. With the long list of arrests and seizures, there seems to be no hiding place for drug offenders anywhere in the country anymore.  More importantly, Nigeria has exited the ‘World black book of drug trafficking nations’.  Our country is no more playing the role of ‘transit port for drugs’.”

He continued, “Drug offence is webbed in international ring. The NDLEA in the past 30 years has been able to build a bridge of collaboration with countries of the world and this has led to exchange of intelligence, resulting in the smashing of cartels and rings, with the resultant reduction in the trafficking of illicit drugs into, within and out of Nigeria.  This explains the numerous awards, both local and international which are marks of great accomplishments for NDLEA.

“Looking back 30 years, we believe the Agency has every reason to roll out the drums to celebrate 30 years of excellent service to a people who suffered both local and international trauma over the menace of drug offense. No wonder, Nigerians are full of gratitude to the NDLEA for what it has done for them and the country.”

The NAGAFF Chief Scribe observed that as major stakeholders in the Nigerian project, members of the association were proud to be responsible partners to NDLEA over its achievements, and pledge their continued support as it marches on in the service to their fatherland while acknowledging the level of industrial harmony between NAGAFF and the NDLEA officials deployed at the Ports and border locations of Nigeria where most of their members operate.

“Of note is to express our gratitude to the current Director, NDLEA Seaports Operations, Mrs. Omolade Faboyede, who visited our headquarters to drive home the MISSION AND VISION of the NDLEA to freight practitioners. Her visit widened our scope with regards to psychotropic substances other than cocaine/heroine, hitherto known to the public. It is our hope that the new NDLEA, after 30 years, shall continue to engage the Organized Private Sector and other responsible partners with a view to achieving its core mandate, to the glory of God and mankind.

“It is also our view that the management of NDLEA should endavour to ensure more discipline among the rank and file of its officers as a paramilitary organization. Though indiscipline is not at an alarming rate but a “stitch in time saves nine”. We believe that NDLEA operations at the Ports should be intelligence-driven to avoid distressing compliant importers”, he said.

Going forward, he suggested that the agency should intensify efforts towards currying the support of the Nigerian people it had committed itself to serve saying that “it must get closer to the people, and be more friendly.”

“The management also needs to fortify its Public Relations activities, and improve on its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Above all, it must cement a formidable rapprochement with Freight Forwarding Associations. This is because more success for the Agency requires credible information and intelligence from members of the public, which can only come when the people see the Agency as their friend”, he further advised.

While stating that NDLEA had been a beacon of hope for the nation by bringing offenders of its laws to justice, he however harped on the need to critically examine the over-zealousness of some of its officers particularly as they relate with arrestees against the tenets of fundamental human rights.

According to him, “We have a situation where suspected drug users/carriers are being treated as if they are already convicted by the court of law. At times drug arrestees are detained beyond the statutory limits stipulated by the Constitution. This situation of prolonged detention is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience.

“We therefore suggest the setting up, of a Human Rights Desk so that issues of violations of human rights can be addressed once and for all. Furthermore, when arrestees are being arraigned in the courts, there is need to make sure that the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 are strictly adhered to particularly in the area of adjournment of cases. By virtue of the Act, adjournments must not exceed 14 days at any given time. This is important so that there can be quick dispensation of Justice, because ‘justice delayed is justice denied’.

“We are aware that the sentencing guideline for drug offenders is already in the pipeline and we want NDLEA to expedite action on it so that Judges can have a hands-on booklet with which to sentence offenders proportionate to the weight of the offence.”

Olayoku therefore advised the agency to endeavour to protect its “territory” according to the power given it, especially in the fight against psychotropic substances saying, “For example, the issue of Tramadol, which by law should be between NDLEA and NAFDAC, but which the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is also trying to be involved in. NDLEA should mobilize stakeholders towards fine tuning the law to protect its powers in the regulation of such substances.”

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