The War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) is gradually becoming a brand introduced by National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in recent years, but for those within riverine communities, the acronym make no meaning to them. Literally, the crusade has made no impact within the waterways where drug trafficking has been heightened by daredevil smugglers and drug barons. Roland Ekama, X-rays the need for government to equip the Marine Unit of NDLEA in furtherance to lead the WADA crusade to the creeks, lagoons and other brown water surroundings within riverine communities within the country.
With the 56 nautical miles from Lagos to Benin Republic , one could say that the waterways of Nigeria is poorly secured by law enforcement agencies . Collectively in Nigeria, there are about five security agencies that are present in the waterways to curb human trafficking, dangerous and contrabands Importation into the country.
Apparently failing to meet up with its responsibilities of the anti drug crusade on the waterways to curb smuggling of hard drugs into the country, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) presence at sea is poorly represented due to lack of patrol boats, technological devices gadgets and manpower to man strategic locations of the waterways.
Some law enforcement agencies in the last decade has successfully recorded tremendous seizures of Illicit drugs and other dangerous substances at sea but the NDLEA which is saddled with the core mandates of curbing this nefarious items into the country is apparently the weakling .
With a strong presence at the seaport terminals in recent time, the NDLEA can do better under the leadership of Buba Marwa , a former general of the army and former sole administrator of Lagos State to tame these drug barons with high patronize of the waterways carriage of drug and other Illicit trafficking.
Marwa no doubt has become a menace to drug barons over time with the no nonsense and radical approach to end illicit drugs Importation and its abuse but the ideology of the creeks and lagoons are unmanned by his boys due to logistics shortfalls.
As the lead agency to combat and enforce illicit drugs Importation or smuggling into the country via any of the international frontiers, there is the need for narcotic personnel to up the ante in furtherance to compete favourably with other agencies of government at sea.
The Nigeria Customs Service no doubt in the last decade and that of the Nigerian Navy on regular intervals maintained steady progression on drug seizures at sea and this have demonstrated brilliancy on their profiles against the background of the mandates ordinarily would have been spearheaded by NDLEA . However, worried about the lack of patrol boats, NDLEA continues to take the back seat and wait for handing over of the seized drugs to them by other sister agencies at sea.
Aside the outstanding performances by other security agencies at sea, e.g Navy and Customs, NDLEA stand a chance to dictate the pace at sea if well motivated with the right equipment because of the acumen training on how to curb the Illicit Importation of drug via the waterways.
Despite numerous interception of hard drugs by personnel of various security agencies , reports suggest that smuggling of dangerous drug via the waterways have continued to soar in the last 10years and such items are conveyed into the country from neighbouring Benin, Ghana and other West African nations along the coast.
Primarily, the NDLEA leadership should engage the federal government for the procurement of watercrafts and other equipment to stand and remain afloat against the backdrop of WADA campaign at the sea.
With the vast coastal network within the sub region, there is no doubt about the fact that items like tramadol , cannabis sativa and colorado etc are commonly ferried into the country through the creeks and lagoons in bits and pieces due to the eye opener of NDLEA officials at the port terminals in Lagos.
However, the WADA crusade should also beam its searchlight to the eastern flanks of the country as the Onne , Port Harcourt, Warri and Calabar ports are no saints in the Importation of illicit drug.
The NDLEA fight against Illicit narcotic Importation at the port terminals in Lagos appears to be on sagging mode unlike three years ago when it was the talk of the industry.
For effective policing and efficiency in the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA), the Marwa led boys have what it takes to do more by aggressively championing such campaign to the creeks, lakes and lagoons where smuggling of drugs are on the increase.
The Marine Unit of NDLEA apparently is handicap and has been described as a toothless bulldog in waterways operation to curb drug trafficking and due to the dearth of watercrafts to man by personnel, the psyche of personnel have been downtrodden in the eyes of sister agencies at sea.
Even on the lips of personnel of the Nigerian Security Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) Marine Unit with virtually one or two patrol boats are ahead of the narcotic personnel in drug seizures along the waterways.
In the eyes of the masses, the NDLEA remains committed to do more in the area of drug trafficking but WADA campaign should also support the Marine Unit which is the goalkeeping division of 11-man squad of every soccer game .
There is no magic on how to improve and boost the morale of personnel of NDLEA Marine Unit but to invest on training and retraining of officers and men under this formation and above all acquisition of modern day patrol boats.
With the rising cases whereby such drugs are ferried with boats to the Eko Atlantic Beach, Victoria Island for onward distribution to hotspots such as Island, Peti Alagba, and others across Lagos and other states, NDLEA personnel should deploy more patrol boats to such spots and increase surveillance on inbound boats suspected to be laden with dangerous drugs that are inimical to the society.
Riverine communities along the waterways should also be the focal point for WADA crusade in furtherance to discourage the locals from abetting criminals of drug trafficking. In Lagos State riverine communities like Snake Island , Ilashe, Takwa Bay, Ogogoro Village, and other smaller unpopular surrounding along the coastline are areas to be visited by the narcotic team for sensitization purposes thus watercrafts equipment should also be deployed to those aforementioned locations as surveillance points.
Drug trafficking business thrive within these communities due to little or no presence of law enforcement agencies in tackling Importation of dangerous substances into the country.
Similarly in other parts of the country where drug trafficking thrive across riverine communities in the Niger Delta region, the WADA crusade should come to bare in a bid to nip drug trafficking in the bud.