By Michael Olugbode
The United States and United Kingdom Governments have expressed their readiness to offer more support for the drug war in Nigeria.
The two countries said they were impressed with the latest zeal with which the drug war is waged as shown with the successes recorded recently by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
The NDLEA, since the beginning of 2021, has witnessed great successes with the appointment of Maj. Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd) as its chairman/CEO.
The Consul-General of the US Consulate in Lagos, Claire Pierangelo, and the British Deputy High Commissioner in Nigeria, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, yesterday in Lagos during the donation of a speedboat to the NDLEA, expressed the readiness of the countries to assist in the ongoing war on drugs in Nigeria.
Pierangelo expressed satisfaction with the performance of the NDLEA helmsman in just eight weeks in the saddle, assuring him that the US Government would be willing to collaborate and give more support to the anti-drug agency in Nigeria in view of the dynamism and efficiency that have been brought into the operations of the agency.
In his remarks, the Deputy British High Commissioner, Llewellyn-Jones, said the UK Government is pleased with the series of illicit drugs seizures by the NDLEA at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, the Tincan seaport and the Apapa seaport, all in Lagos soon after Marwa came on board as the chairman of the NDLEA.
He said with the renewed vigour brought into the war against illicit drugs in Nigeria and the successes recorded between January and now, the UK would be glad to offer more support to the agency.
Llewellyn-Jones said the handing over of the patrol boat was a significant indication of that, noting that: “Since your appointment, there has been a flurry of activities. There have been huge seizures across commands. The cocaine seizure at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos was massive and for this, NDLEA must be recognised and commended. We’ll continue to give you all the necessary support. We must continue to work on our relationship to make sure that the current situation continues.”
In his response, Marwa assured the British Government that the boat would be put into good use, thanking them for their investment and support for the war against illicit drugs in the country.
He said: “I want to appreciate the American and the British Governments for the support given to the NDLEA over the years in terms of intelligence sharing, training, equipment and other logistics, and most especially since my assumption of duty as the chairman of the NDLEA.
“Let me state categorically that with the new vigour and vigilance of our men and officers at the seaports, airports and land borders, which recently resulted in huge seizures, I am aware that drug traffickers have now turned to our waterways across the borders to bring in drugs. With the donation of this boat today, I’ll like to warn that the time is up for them also on our waterways because from now on, they have the NDLEA to contend with there, and we’ll deal decisively with them if they failed to back out of the criminal trade.”
According to a statement issued by the Head of Media and Advocacy of the agency, Femi Babafemi, the NDLEA boss had earlier led his team of officials on a courtesy visit to the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, who received them with his white cap chiefs.