A 32-year-old woman, Stella Ezinwoke Chizoba, has said that operatives of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos were wrong to have arrested her with 3.75 kilogram of cannabis otherwise known as Indian hemp. Stella told newsmen that there was no need for the operatives to arrest her with the Indian hemp since she was on her way to New Delhi in India, the supposed home of Indian hemp. The suspect, who was of the opinion that Indian hemp that got its name from India can always be carried freely by people to that country, said the narcotic agents that arrested her had erred.
“Why should they arrest me with Indian hemp when I was on my way to India with their hemp? My arrest was wrong. If hemp is being taken to India, it’s like you are bringing Garri (course cassava flour) to Nigeria. Yes, my arrest could have been proper if they had arrested me on my way to another country where Indian hemp is foreign to them. Again, the arrest could have been proper if they had found me with cocaine or heroin and not Indian hemp on my way to India. Help me beg them to please release me. Let them show you my passport and ticket, it was India I was going to,” she said.
Stella who’s a holder of Nigerian international passport number A01213239 said she was a food vendor at Grill’, Lagos before her arrest. She was to board an Ethiopian Airline flight to Delhi in India when narcotics agents at the airport swooped down on her. She was found with 12 large wraps of Indian hemp in her luggage during the screening of passengers. She declared the contents as foodstuff at first, but during the search, 12 wraps of dry weeds in polythene bags found to be cannabis were recovered in her luggage that contained bitter leaf vegetables, dried fish, melon, crayfish and other food ingredients.
Stella, who also told newsmen that she carried the bitter leaf and other food items to conceal the Indian hemp and to avoid detection and arrest, lamented that her trick was not good enough to beat security checks at the airport. In a frantic effort to drag in the person that assisted her to procure the drugs in Lagos, Stella said she gave a young man living around her compound the sum of N15,000 to buy the drugs for her but the man allegedly bought Nl0,000 worth, saying she was going to make a very large gain from it.
Lamenting the alleged fraudulent deal by the person she sent to buy the drug for her, the suspect requested that he should also be arrested for Conspiracy.
“I gave the man in my neighbourhood N15,000 to buy the Indian hemp for me, but he bought only N10,000 worth and disappeared with my balance. I am still searching for him to collect my money. I was told that if I can smuggle the drug to India, there is much profit in it. If I had known I would be caught, I would have concentrated only on my foodstuff business. It was the high profit that made me to give it a trial. I actually underrated the security and the implication. If only they would let me go, I promise I will not involve myself in this deal again,” Stella stated.
She lamented that as a food vendor, she was an employer of labour with some boys and girls working under her. She said with her arrest, detention and possible prosecution, she may not recover and reintegrate into the society again. She said she does not consume drugs and has never traded in it before her arrest. She said her neighbourhood and the members of her church may be wondering about her involvement and sincerity, adding, “it is the work of the devil. I have never taken drugs in my life. Everybody should pray for me.”
But the Commander of NDLEA at the airport, Alhaji Hamza Umar, said ignorance of the law is never an excuse to the committal of any crime. The possession, consumption, cultivation, trading and even transportation of illicit drugs within the country or to any other country are offences before the law. He said that the Command is prepared to uncover any form of drug concealment at the airport, warning that the mere knowledge that someone is handling illicit drugs in any form constitutes an offence unless it is reported to the appropriate authority.
“We are prepared to frustrate drug traffickers by detecting their drugs, arrest and prosecute them accordingly. Others hoping to smuggle drugs through the airport now have the opportunity to shun the evil act. If they insist on drug trafficking, they are only risking detention, prosecution and possible conviction because we shall surely arrest them. The drug barons are aware that it is not possible for anyone to traffic in drugs across this airport. They all know that we have the best and most modern screening machines at this airport. Our machines don’t fail in detecting any form of drugs concealment. They are tested and trusted.
“When the barons realised they could no longer succeed in trafficking in drugs through this airport, they decided to be recruiting unsuspecting young men and women that they give fake assurances and push them only for those to be arrested and prosecuted. They are only wasting the future of such youths. And when they are recruiting and sending them on the errand, they do not allow them to know their names, phone numbers or addresses, so that when the couriers are arrested, they cannot trace them. However, we are doing everything possible to educate members of the public to avoid them and their juicy offers,” Hamza warned.
He said Stella, a single mother of a child and hails from Anambra State, will be charged to court as soon as investigations into her case are completed. He expressed concern over the continued involvement of women and youths in illicit drugs trafficking in Nigeria.
GoG: Nigerian, Ghanaian Navies Meet On Joint Operations
Against the backdrop of renewed piracy and hostage-taking incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and his Ghanaian counterpart, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, have commenced a security engagement aimed at joint security initiatives to tackle the situation.
Speaking during the meeting held at Naval headquarters, Abuja, Vice Admiral Gambo said, “The Gulf of Guinea is currently bedevilled by the activities of criminal elements who take advantage of limited capability of the navies in the region to adequately secure the area.
“The threat posed by the activities of these criminal elements constitute a major challenge not only to the littoral states but equally undermines regional development and global trade.
“Notably, the trans-boundary and trans-national nature of maritime crime makes the security of the maritime domain a task beyond the capacity of any country acting alone.
“It is against this backdrop that this bilateral engagement was convened at the instance of the Heads of Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Republic of Ghana towards addressing the maritime security challenges within the region”.
Vice Admiral Gambo expressed belief that “the engagement would foster greater collaboration and burden sharing that is hinged on cooperative maritime security framework as envisioned in the 2013 Yaoundé Protocol to arrive at strategies that would help address the maritime insecurity for enhanced economic prosperity in the region”.
Declaring the technical session open, the CNS said, “In deliberations, please consider amongst others: maritime area of interest covering Zone E and integration of the capabilities of the countries in Zone E, emplacing a robust intelligence sharing mechanism and collaboration with international partners”.
On relations between both countries, Gambo said, “This good relation is equally manifest in the several interactions between the Nigerian Navy and Ghana Navy. I must not fail to mention the remarkable contributions of the Ghana Navy-CNS to manpower development during his tour of duty at the prestigious AFCSC, Jaji as a member of the Directing Staff. I have no doubt that this engagement would further strengthen the existing cordial bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana navies.
In his address, Chief of Naval Staff of Ghana, Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, noted that he and his delegation were in Nigeria at the behest of President Nana Akufo Ado to engage the Nigerian Navy and come out with collective strategies to tackle insecurity which is in the ascendancy in recent times in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We hope our navies will buy into this engagement to improve security in the Gulf of Guinea. We know our big brother Nigeria has bigger capacity to chart the way forward”.
He disclosed that, “Since year 2020, the situation has bot been good in the Gulf of Guinea”, noting that “Last May, two Ghanian vessels were attacked and 10 persons were abducted with investigations still ongoing”.
Consequently, the Ghanian Navy Chief said, “We are proposing an ECOWAS naval task force and joint maritime security architecture to checkmate these threats, adding that this was done in the past successfully during ECOMOG operations without problems with inter-operability and doctrinal issues.
Furthermore, he proposed the setting up of a ‘transit corridors’ where ships from fellow West African countries can go to anchor for assistance and joint naval assets will conduct regular patrols especially for protection of commercial fishing vessels.
Wike Orders Destruction Of Criminal Hideouts In Rivers
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has ordered the destruction of all criminal hideouts in Ahoada, Elele, Eleme and Onne to prevent attempt to undermine security of the state.
The governor said criminals were already coming to terms with the reality that Rivers State was too hot for them to invade at will and detonate their foolish attacks on targeted security posts and personnel.
Wike, who made this assertion in a state broadcast, last Friday, disclosed that the state government has identified the hideouts, safe houses and secret places that provide both cover and comfort for the hoodlums to plan, execute and return to after operations.
“This was the reason we ordered the destruction of all the shanties and makeshift structures located along Elele to Ahoada expanse of the East–West Road to deny the criminals the opportunity to continue to undermine our security from these hideouts.
“We have equally decided to destroy all the shanties, illegal shops and mechanic sheds along the Eleme to Onne stretch of the East-West Road having discovered these places also as hideouts and operational bases for criminals and criminal activities in the state.
“Consequently, I hereby direct owners of such shanties and illegal structures along the Eleme – Onne axis of the East-West Road to vacate the area within two weeks from June 11, 2021, as the state government will go ahead to destroy these structures without any further notice.”
Wike said the government was not unmindful of the economic effect these measures would have or may have had on residents carrying out businesses in the affected areas.
He, however, stressed that government was merely discharging its constitutional responsibility to advance the collective security of all with no ethnic targets in mind or attachment to political sentiments.
He explained that the existing curfew in Rivers State will not last one day beyond necessary, and pleaded with all residents to endure the temporary inconveniences in the interest of the state and collective wellbeing of all.
“We will continue to take the war on criminality and insecurity to the den of the criminals and we will neither yield nor lower the tempo of our assault until they are comprehensively neutralized. As a matter of fact, they want us to prematurely terminate the state wide night time curfew in order for them to have the leeway to operate again and roll back the gains of the last few weeks.”
Wike said he has received reports about the excesses of the State Task Force on Illegal Trading and Parks, especially the alleged shooting of motorists, extortions and abuse of the human rights of citizens.
He assured that government would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on any member of the task force who crosses the boundaries of the law and rational behaviour.
The governor, who appealed to motorists and residents to be responsible road users by complying with the clear regulations against illegal trading, indiscriminate parking and irresponsible driving, noted that the situation where some motorists would have the effrontery to compete for traffic space with or even attempt to block his official vehicular convoy leaves much to be desired.
He has meanwhile, directed the management of the Rivers State Waste Management Authority to clear the state of filthiness within one week or be disbanded without any further notice.
Army Begins Shooting Exercises In Rivers
The Nigerian Army, 6 Division, has announced that it would commence its annual range classification exercise from yesterday to Sunday, June 27.
The division’s spokesman, Lt.-Col. Charles Ekeocha, said in a statement in Port Harcourt, that the exercise aimed at ascertaining the professional competence of troops on the use of firearms.
He said troops from the division and its affiliated formations and units would conduct the exercise at the Army Shooting Range in Igwuruta and Elele Barracks, both in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
“The shooting exercise is a routine activity in the Nigerian Army which involves the firing of various calibre live ammunitions.
“Members of the public, especially residents of Igwuruta and Elele, as well as its environs, are advised to keep away from the general shooting area,” he stated.
The Army spokesman also advised the public not to panic over the movement of troops, military hardware and sound of gunshots.
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