Aminat Isah, Abuja
The United Nations office on Drugs and Crime, (UNODC) has raised concerns over the increasing spate of illegal drugs being shipped into Nigeria and Africa via the Gulf of Guinea annually.
The Program Officer, UN office on Drugs and Crime, (UNODC) Mr. Giuseppe Sernias disclosed this to journalists at the ongoing Global Maritime Security Conference in Abuja, saying that most common among the drugs being trafficked are Tramadol and Cocaine.
According to Serbias, In 2014, the Nigerian authority seized around 8 tonnes of tramadol smuggled via the high sea, while it increased from 8tons to 150tonnes released in the data for 2018.
“There is massive increase in quantities of tramadol that are smuggled into the country and all of these seizures happen at the seaports.
“The Gulf of Guinea and the whole of West African waters is recording drugs and cocaine trafficking by sea judging by the seizures. Cape Verde, for instance, recently seized 10 tonnes of cocaine, which is a huge amount in the market.”
He further said Countries need to be able to apply the Vienna convention on Narcotics Substances, which articles 17 provides for proceeding to board a vessel of foreign flags. So that coastal countries could board a vessel of another, this can be put in national legal framework.
Similarly speaking, UNODC country representative said Oliver Stolpe, said Nigerian government have done few things right by signing into law, as the Suppression of Piracy and other Offences Act, which for the first time gives comprehensive framework to tackle the issue of piracy and other maritime crimes.
According to him, Nigeria is on good part but the big issue is specific follow up with prosecutions because that has been lacking.
“One of the challenges in the Gulf of Guinea countries is basically extremely fragment when looked at all the countries.
“So, we have regional, international and sub regional like the ECOWAS level of frameworks but there is a gap between countries having signed on to these different legal framework to actually be able to put them into domestic legislation or policies. At the moment, that is a crucial gap”, he said.
He averred that the UNODC is working extensive with Nigerian government and government of other countries in the region to assist them in legal reforms in terms of capacity building for judges, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies.
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