The National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) has charged the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to endavour to ensure more discipline among the rank and file of its officers as a paramilitary organisation.
NAGAFF made this charge in its goodwill message to NDLEA which turned 30 years recently, saying that though indiscipline is not at an alarming rate, but a “stitch in time saves nine.”
The Association in a Statement endorsed by its National General Secretary General, Dipo Olayokun believed that NDLEA’s operations at the Ports should be intelligence-driven to avoid distressing compliant importers,noting that the NDLEA has achieved many feats that stemmed drug abuse and trafficking in the Country.
NAGAFF however, advised that the Agency intensifies effort towards currying the support of the Nigerian people it has committed itself to serve while improving its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as well as set up a Human Rights Desk so that issues of violations of human rights can be addressed once and for all as this would curb the prolonged detention of suspects.
It also charged NDLEA to endeavour to protect its ‘territory’ according to the power given it, especially in the fight against psychotropic substances, citing the example of 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 mobilise stakeholders towards fine tuning the law to protect its powers in the regulation of such substances,” it said.
“It must get closer to the people, and be friendlier. 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
“It is trite that NDLEA is a creation of the National Assembly by virtue of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act, LFN 2004. As we observed earlier, the agency has effectively risen to the challenges of stemming the tides of illegal use of drugs, drug trafficking and related matters. NDLEA has been a beacon of hope for the nation by bringing offenders of its laws to justice, but there is need to critically examine the overzealousness of some of its officers particularly as they relate with arrestees against the tenets of fundamental human rights. 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 guidelines 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,” the message read in part.
The Freight Forwarders association expressed gratitude to the current Director, NDLEA Seaports Operations, Mrs. Omolade Faboyede, who widened the freight practitioners’ scope with regards to psychotropic substances other than cocaine/heroine, hitherto known to the public.
It implored NDLEA continue to engage the Organised Private Sector and other responsible partners with a view to achieving its core mandate, to the glory of God and mankind while pledging its continued support to NDLEA as it marches on in the service to the Country.
They acknowledging the level of industrial harmony between NAGAFF and the NDLEA officials deployed at the Ports and border locations of Nigeria where most of freight forwarders operate.
“In summation, the NDLEA deserves 30 big cheers because the past 30 years have been a catalogue of success stories 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 message further stated.