NDLEA Trains W’African Countries on Techniques to Dismantle Clandestine Drug Laboratories

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

In order to combat the threat of drug trafficking and abuse in West Africa, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has conducted training for six countries in the sub-region on how to dismantle clandestine laboratories.

According to a statement issued yesterday by the spokesman of the anti-narcotics agency, Femi Babafemi, the training took place in Abidjan, Côte D’Ivoire, from March 27 to 29, with six West African countries of Republic of Benin, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Cote D’Ivoire and those from Nigeria participating in the project which was organised by ECOWAS.

The project known as ‘Organised Crime: West African Response to Trafficking (OCWART)’, and co-funded by the European Union (EU) and German Federal Foreign Office, was executed primarily by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Babafemi said as the lead agency at the workshop, NDLEA drew from its experiential knowledge acquired from the dismantling of 21 clandestine laboratories found in Nigeria since 2011 to teach other West African countries the practical know-how of handling illicit laboratories.

He disclosed that a total of eight topical lectures, practical and Q&A sessions were delivered in two days by a team of NDLEA facilitators that included Joseph Sunday (Director, Prosecutions and Legal Services); Margaret Ogundipe (Director, Forensic and Chemical Monitoring); Adebowale Rahman (Digital Intelligence

Specialist); Anebi Ajilima (Forensic and Crime Lab Expert), and Felix Tagbo (Operation Specialist).

He said the first two days of the workshop dwelt on various perspectives on the subject matter, including the anatomy of a clandestine laboratory, basic clandestine lab investigation techniques, intelligence gathering, operations safety and guidelines for dismantling clandestine laboratories, clean-up and decontamination of illicit labs and sites, basics of controlled delivery and prosecuting cases of clandestine laboratories.

Babafemi further revealed that the workshop was wrapped up on the third day with a practical exercise on the dismantling of a mock clandestine laboratory at the Abidjan Police Academy, which the Nigerian contingent set up, and the participants, divided into teams, took turns to dismantle and decontaminate.

He said the workshop’s seven participating countries sent in representatives from relevant organisations, including Ghana’s Narcotics Control Commission; Sierra Leone’ Serious Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Coordination Directorate; Drug Law Enforcement Agency of the Gambia (DLEAG); Transnational Crime Unit of Liberia and the INTERPOL.

The Republic of Benin was represented by the Organised Crime Fighting Unit (CELCO), Customs and Narcotics Office (OCERTID), while the host, Côte D’Ivoire, had representatives from Narcotics Squad from Judicial Police (DPSD), Customs, National Gendarmerie, Transnational Crime Unit (TCU), Forensic Police Laboratory and Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF).

Babafemi said at the opening ceremony, UNODC Country Representative and its Senior Adviser, Law Enforcement, West and East Africa, Ishaqu Toure, described the latitude of the workshop thus: “It is both enforcement and judicial capacity building. The project offers technical and equipment support, as well as facilitates discussion of joint operations among member countries.”

Toure, was quoted to have said: “We need regional cooperation to disrupt the transnational criminal organisations’ network,” noting that the South-south cooperation that exists among ECOWAS member states since 2014 has helped to disrupt transnational criminal activities over the years.

Also, the Secretary-General of the Inter-ministerial Committee for the Fight against Drugs, who represented the Minister of Interior and Security for Côte d’Ivoire (General Vagondo Diomande), Mr. Kouma Yao Ronsard, said: “This workshop will ensure that law enforcement agencies across the region are equipped with the modern knowledge and equipment to fight transnational organised crime.”

He also underscored the need for cooperation among law enforcement agencies in West Africa, noting that: “We need cooperation, especially bilateral cooperation. The new law in Cote D’Ivoire gave it the power to cooperate with states in the fight against drug and human trafficking. We need cooperation to break this chain.

“Cote D’Ivoire has cooperation with Nigeria. No one country can say there is no drug in my country, the reality is, we haven’t seen them and or don’t know yet of the techniques of the criminals.”

UNODC Regional Representative for West and Central Africa, Dr. Amado de Andrés, in his speech before presenting certificates to the participants, said: “All countries in the West Africa region need to cooperate. And we need Nigeria more in the participation of conventions against organised crime.”

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