At least 12 dockworkers at the Apapa seaport in Lagos have been detained by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) over alleged links to the importation of 32.9 kilograms of cocaine worth over N9.5 billion into the country.
According to NDLEA’s Director, Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, “a Federal High Court in Lagos had granted an application by the agency for the interim attachment of a vessel MV Chayanee Naree used to import the 32.9 kilograms of cocaine into Nigeria through the Apapa seaport.
“Besides the attachment order, the court also granted NDLEA’s request to detain the Master of the ship, Mr Tanahan Krilerk and 21 foreign crew members as well as the dockworkers arrested in connection to the case.”
He noted that “the anti-narcotic agency had on October 13 intercepted the ship at the Apapa seaport following intelligence from international partners and support from other security forces such as the Nigerian Navy, Customs, DSS and the police. A thorough search of the ship led to the recovery of 30 parcels containing cocaine, which weighed 32.9kg.
“The application in suit no: FHC/L/CS/1518/2021, which was filed by the agency’s Director of Prosecution and Legal Services, Joseph, Nbone Sunday, on Thursday, October 28, was granted the following day Friday, October 29, by Hon. Justice A.O. Awogboro. An application to renew the remand order was also filed on Friday, November 12, because of the volume of evidence coming out from the cooperation of the suspects in custody.”
Bababfemi said NDLEA’s clarification became necessary following claims by the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria that some of its members were being illegally detained.
He explained that six of the 18 dockworkers who were initially arrested have been released after investigations found nothing against them.
He said the remaining 12 with significant links were cooperating in the ongoing investigation.
“In line with the intelligence available, there is a syndicate of dockworkers, crew members with apparent international conspirators who work in synergy to traffic in illicit substances.
“In the case of a criminal investigation of this magnitude, it is lawful and expedient to investigate those within the purview of the agency’s reasonable suspicion.
“Already, two dockworkers are now on the run after absconding from their place of work, since the beginning of the investigation.
“All the agency’s actions are guided by international best practices and in line with the global maritime standard operational procedure on arrest, seizure and detention of vessels and crew members”, he said.