By Augustine Ehikioya
The Nigerian Navy has intercepted a ship carrying 32.9 kg cocaine into Nigeria.
The interception was said to be made possible as a result of collaborative efforts between the Nigerian Navy and other Law Enforcement agencies including the INTERPOL, the Nigeria Custom Services, Nigerian Port Authority and the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
This was disclosed in a briefing by Commander, NNS BEECROFT, Bashir Mohammed, as monitored by Security Watch Africa (SWA) on Thursday.
He said “This brief is aimed at informing you on a development within the Nation’s Maritime environment that concerns a recent sting operation conducted through collaborative efforts.
“Acting on credible intelligence from Interpol, the Nigerian Navy, commenced tracking of a vessel, MV CHAYANEE NAREE, suspected of attempting to smuggle narcotics into Nigeria.
“Using the Nigerian Navy Falcon Eye Maritime Domain Awareness System, the Navy monitored the vessel and discovered that the vessel departed Santos, Brazil on 19 September, 2021 and drifted for a week at a position about 250nm (approximately 500 kilometres) off the coast of Benin Republic from 1 to 8 October before setting sail and arriving Nigeria on 8 October, 2021” he said.
The Commander went on “Upon entering Nigerian waters, the vessel was intercepted by Nigerian Navy Ship EKULU and escorted to NPA Port where she was directed to berth on 9 October, 2021 and taken into custody by the Navy.
“Thereafter, other agencies were invited to conduct an extensive and comprehensive search of the vessel for narcotics and other contraband items.
“The suspected vessel was thoroughly searched by a combined team of Nigerian Navy, INTERPOL Nigeria, Nigeria Custom Service and Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency. The Search began on 9 October, 2021 and at about 1800 hours (6pm) on 13 October, 2021, efforts of the search team was rewarded when a bag was found in the Vessel’s Cargo Compartment One.
“Tests conducted on the contents of the bag by the NDLEA confirmed the substance to be cocaine wrapped in 30 slabs weighing 32.9 k” he said.
“Accordingly, the substance was handed over to the NDLEA while further search and investigation have continued on every nook and cranny of the vessel.”
The statement added “It is gratifying to point out that, the success of this particular operation is as a result of the excellent synergy and collaborative efforts between the NN, INTERPOL Nigeria, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and the Nigeria Customs Service.
“Accordingly, as we jointly continue this investigation and search of the Vessel, additional information will be released to the Press on the case,” he added.
According to him, the desired end state by all parties involved is the prosecution of all those involved in the nefarious act according to the laws of the land.
He also assured Nigerians that the Nigerian Navy under the leadership of the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, will continue to support other government and non-governmental agencies in all collaborative efforts to deny the use of the Nation’s sea lanes for all forms of criminality that can negatively affect the wealth, peace and prosperity of Nigeria.
“The Navy will thus continue to work assiduously for a safe and secured Nigerian Maritime space. On behalf of the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral BJ Gbassa I want to once again thank all our partners standing here with me,” he said.