As part of efforts to curb drug abuse and trafficking at Lagos airport, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in collaboration with the African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON) organized a one-day sensitization programme for freight forwarders, yesterday.
The sensitization programme themed; “War Against Drug Abuse and Trafficking: The Role of Freight Forwarders” held at the Hajj Camp Operations Hall with a large turnout of freight forwarders.
Speaking at the event, Usman Ali, Commander of Narcotics, Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos urged the freight forwarders to always endeavour to know their importers and exporters through KYC (Know Your Customers)
According to him, this is necessary to have a trail to follow to catch the real culprits fond of exploiting freight forwarders in cases of drug trafficking.
Commander Ali also disclosed that in year 2022, the NDLEA has prosecuted 29 people at the MMIA airport alone, and that it has arrested over 50 suspects, lamenting that over 14million Nigerians are hooked on drugs abuse, going by the United Nations statistics report.
His words: “If something urgent is not done, the future generation yearning for might not be there. We have to ensure that all hands are on deck to ensure that we stem the tide. The process of importation and exportation Involves several legalities and that is where freight forwarders, regulatory institutions and law enforcements interface.”
“It is in this regard that the NDLEA law is very explicit in that once you present a cargo for examination and illicit substances are discovered inside, the presenter of such a cargo stands liable to be charged for possession unless proven otherwise, which is why you must endeavour to do your KYC so that there can be a trail to follow to catch the real culprits that are fond of exploiting your members.”
Also speaking, the representative of the Customs Area Controller, MMIA Command, Mr. E.A Ibok noted that freight forwarders are integral part of cargo clearance procedures, hence, he charged the practitioners to play a role in the war against drugs.
“As a freight forwarder, you are licensed to facilitate cargo clearance, you are not supposed to transact business by the road side or in a disorderly manner. When you get airway bill, ensure that you know the importer and the consignee. Do your homework very carefully,” he said.
In a paper presentation titled, “The NDLEA Enabling Act: Implications for Freight Forwarders”, Mr. Augustine Nwagu, Principal Staff Officer, Prosecution and Legal Services of NDLEA MMIA Command, stressed that part of the obligations of the agency is to detect consignments suspected of containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances coming into or out of a customs area.
He reiterated that NDLEA is working in collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service in monitoring the movement of goods and persons in any customs area, and searching cargoes, both incoming and outgoing vessels, as well as aircraft and vehicles.
Nwagu said anyone who imports, manufactures, produces, processes, plants or grows drugs is liable for life imprisonment, while those who export, transport or otherwise traffic drugs are equally liable to life imprisonment.
In his welcome address, Chairman of APFFLON at Murtala Muhammed Airport Chapter, Mr. Victor Akorede Shotayo noted that the seminar could not have come at a better time as the scourge of fake drugs and their trafficking across local and international boarders is on the increase.
“People can’t discountenance the evil effects of drugs, trafficking, the stigma bad name on our nation. There is also the frequent fracas between the law enforcement agencies and logistics’ handlers. Some of the scenarios are just too ugly and painful to recount. There is therefore, a need for a forum like this for interaction and greater understanding across board”
“This seminar is one of the deliberate efforts by NDLEA in partnership with APFFLON-MMA Ikeja, towards building the capacity of freight agents for effective and professional service and ridding the country of drug trafficking and its evil effects” the APFFLON chairman stated.