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NDLEA connects MMIA to international drug control database

By The Citizen


The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on Monday announced that the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) has been connected to the international database and communication network on drug control and other crimes in order to curb the use of the airport as transit for narcotics.

A statement by the NDLEA spokesman, Michelle Ofoyeju, said the project, dubbed Airport Communication, is supported by the Nigerian Government, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Canadian Government, European Union, United States, INTERPOL and the World Customs Organisation.

Ofoyeju said the project ensured real time transmission and exchange of intelligence concerning drug trafficking among members, thereby facilitating the interception of illicit shipment of drugs.

The Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force, a 36 member group, headed by NDLEA Commander at the Lagos Airport, Mr. Hamza Umar, is expected to be involved in the project.

Ofoyeju said the JAITF, inaugurated by the Chairman of the NDLEA, Mr. Ahmadu Giade, would have its membership drawn from NDLEA, Nigerian Customs Service, Police, Nigerian Immigration Service and State Security Service.

Giade said, 'The Federal Government entered into an agreement with the UNODC Regional Office for West and Central Africa on 13th October 2010.

'This was done to secure our airports against drug traffickers. Direct connections with vetted units in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and Latin America from the MMIA, would be available as a result of this project.'

Giade, who was represented by his Special Assistant, Mr. Suleiman Ningi, said that the project would increase drug interdiction capacity at the airport.

UNODC representative, Mr. Marc Vanhulle, also the JAITF Project coordinator, said AIRCOP was targeted at covering the entire trans-Atlantic route for trafficking drugs from Latin America to Europe through Africa.

He said, 'West Africa is recognised as a transit area for cocaine trafficking between Latin America and Europe. More recently, the area has also become a centre for methamphetamine production and has been increasing drug use locally.

'An integrated regional approach like project AIRCOP is critical in addressing the borderless threats of drugs and crime.'