…As Union says Maritime workers continue strike until wages paid***
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said it would collaborate with the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) to stop the smuggling of Tramadol and other illicit drugs into the country.
The NDLEA’s director in charge of seaports, Omolade Faboyede, said this when she led a delegation from the agency to visit the headquarters of the NSC in Lagos on Thursday.
Faboyede said that the plan was to guarantee a healthy citizenry.
According to her, the large amount of drugs that comes through the nation’s seaports has undermined national security as well as negatively affected individuals, families and communities.
“We had a meeting in India over the issue. We agreed there that have to follow the issue of Tramadol back to the manufacturers.
“The milligrams of Tramadol allowed is between 50mg and 150mg per dosage but what is being imported into the country is 225mg per dosage.
“It is like a business now in Nigeria.
“It is as if this Tramadol is finding its way into the midst of the Boko Haram insurgents.’’
She said that the Boko Haram insurgents were the ones consuming the drug so that they would be able to commit all the alleged crimes attributed to them.
She said that there was the need for all the stakeholders operating at the seaports to collaborate and stop the importation of illicit drugs into the country.
Faboyede said that recently there was a drink called Narcot-tushy or Chapman popularly consumed by Nigerian youths.
She said that this was usually the combination of: Tramadol, Benylin, Codeine, Cannabis, Blackcurrant, Cucumber and Ethanol.
She said that when the youth consumed this mixture, it used to ravage them on daily basis.
The NDLEA boss said that unfortunately, those youths consuming the substance were supposed to be among the future leaders of the nation.
She said that the Chairman of NDLEA, retired Col. Muhammad Abdallah, nominated her as the Director of Seaports in January with the mandate of finding solutions to the importation of illegal drugs into the country.
Also, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mr Hassan Bello, in his response, commended the team for deeming it fit to visit the council, which he said is the ports’ economic regulator.
Bello represented by the Director, Legal Services of the council, Mr Samuel Vongtau, also commended the efforts of the NDLEA, especially, in the areas of arresting and prosecuting smugglers of drugs.
According to him, the creation of the seaport operation is a welcome idea and a strategic planning by the NDLEA.
He said that with the taking-off of the office, the operations of the agency would be felt more by Nigerians.
He added that the agency would be able to record more achievements through efficient service.
“We consider the NDLEA as one of our strategic partners in the improvement of the port sector now that the issue of drugs abuse is really ravaging our society.
“Some of our youths are no longer productive; a lot of them have rendered themselves useless and that is affecting the economy of the nation.
“The Nigerian Shippers’ Council is ready to collaborate with you in the course of your operations at the ports.
“We also have many areas that we can collaborate such as Port Steering Committee which is working toward bringing efficiency and transparency at out ports.
“The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) has been worked out and the NDLEA must be part of the committee.
“NSC will also collaborate with the NDLEA to carry out sensitisation at the ports,’’ he said.
Bello also said that the NSC was about to implement the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) which he said would simplify the NDLEA’s operations at the ports.
He said that when the CTN becomes operational, it would involve an open declaration of cargoes at the port of origin to ascertain their contents.
He added that the relevant government agencies would be able to ensure easy tracking of such cargoes from the port of origin up till the port of destination.
He said that the CTN would be operated electronically and guide against compromise.
He said that the system had been in operation in America as an Advanced Cargo Declaration System.
Bello assured the agency of the council’s partnership in making the nation’s ports friendlier in the interest of the nation’s economy.
In the meantime, the President, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Adeyanju Adewale, on Thursday said that workers would continue the indefinite strike embarked upon until outstanding monies of dockworkers are paid.
Adewale, who spoke with the newsmen in Lagos on contending issues that led to the nation-wide strike on Wednesday, said the union resorted to strike due to non- payment of dockworkers.
MWUN leaders had directed workers to withdraw their services, shut ports operations and begin a nationwide strike over unpaid wages among other issues.
This was after the union had on June 11, issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to compel the International Oil Companies (IOCs) to pay over a year outstanding wages.
The MWUN president said that the union resorted to strike because of non-payment of government appointed stevedores/dockworkers by the IOCs contravened Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act 2007.
He said that several efforts made for the IOCs to see reason including a stakeholders meeting organised by the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) did not yield result.
”While some of the affected dockworkers had passed on prematurely due to economic hardship, those alive had been made to become destitute.
“As a responsible union, we cannot continue to fold our arms and watch our members die untimely because of the nonchalant attitude of the IOCs management towards the welfare of workers,” the union leader said.
He said that the union earlier gave a 14-day ultimatum to government through the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation to prevail on the IOCs to pay union members.
”Ahead of the expiration of 14 days ultimatum which elapsed on June 28, the union issued a reminder letter to inform the government that if by July 2, no payment is made members shall withdraw service in all the Nation Seaports,” he said.
Adewale, however, stressed that the strike would continue until all issues in contention are resolved.