The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has disclosed that between January and October 2023, a staggering 196,336.99 kilograms of various narcotics were intercepted at Nigerian seaports.
This is according to the Director of Media and Advocacy, Mr Femi Babafemi, raising significant concerns about the magnitude of the illicit drug trade within the country.
Babafemi, shedding light on the severity of the issue, in a chat with our correspondent disclosed that a total of 167 individuals were arrested in connection with the smuggling of these illicit substances under the Directorate of Seaports Operations.
While the director did not specify the overall value of the seized drugs, our correspondent recalls that during an exclusive interview with him in May 2023, Babafemi provided specific details of the seizures for the first quarter of 2023 at key seaports. At Apapa port alone, he had informed that the total street value of the Tramadol seized at the Lagos port is worth over N15.84 billion, explaining that the cost of a carton of Tramadol is about N22 million.
He said 720 cartons of Tramadol, equivalent to a staggering 143.8 million pills (10,386kg), were confiscated. The estimated street value of the Tramadol alone surpassed N15.84 billion, with each carton valued at approximately N22 million.
The Tin Can port reported seizures of 2,370kg of Cannabis Sativa and 434.95kg of Cannabis Indica For the first quarter of 2023, while specific values for these seizures weren’t confirmed by Babafemi, our correspondent’s checks suggest an approximate street worth of N2 billion, drawing on insights from the Nigeria Customs Service.
Babafemi emphasized that the NDLEA refrains from putting a monetary value on these seizures to avoid inadvertently encouraging others to delve into the desperate world of drug trafficking. He stated, “We do not put a value on the seizure to avoid glorifying criminal activities or motivating others into desperation.”
Despite this official stance, our correspondent’s investigations into the matter revealed that the street value of the seized narcotics is indeed worth billions of Naira, underscoring the economic impact of these colossal seizures.
Checks by our correspondent revealed that these developments have elevated the ports of Lagos, particularly Apapa and Tincan Island, into prime targets for drug cartels, notably those trafficking Tramadol. Despite the installation of advanced scanners, the ports remain attractive to criminals, posing a significant challenge for law enforcement agencies.
Babafemi however said the NDLEA’s unwavering commitment to curbing drug trafficking at seaports underscores the urgency for enhanced security measures and international cooperation to address this pervasive issue while adding that the economic implications of these seized narcotics further emphasize the need for a concerted effort to stem the tide of illicit drug trade in the region.