THE National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA has stated that it has in its custody 12 dockworkers with significant links to the importation of 32.9 kg of cocaine with a street value of over N9.5 billion.
In a statement released on Saturday, the NDLEA pointed out that the clarification became necessary following claims by the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria that some of its members are being detained unlawfully by the Agency.
According to the anti-narcotic agency, 18 dock workers werw initially interviewed by its operatives, six were however, released as there were no sufficient evidence linking them to the crime. The rest 12 others with significant links are cooperating with ongoing investigation.
The NDLEA also disclosed that in the view of credible 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.
It would be recalled that a Federal High Court in Lagos granted an application by the Agency for the interim attachment of MV Chayanee Naree, a vessel used to import the 32.9 kg of cocaine into Nigeria through the Apapa seaport.
Beside 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, Customs, 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, October 28, was granted the following day Friday October 29, by Hon. Justice A.O. Awogboro.
An application to renew the remand order was also filed on Friday November 12, in view of the volume of evidence coming out with the cooperation of the suspects in custody.
In the case of 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.