The Nation

NDLEA detains 12 dockworkers over N9.5bn cocaine shipment

Bolanle Olabimtan

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) says 12 dockworkers at the Apapa Seaport, Lagos have been detained over the importation of N9.5 billion worth of cocaine.

TheCable had reported that the Nigerian Navy, on October 13, arrested seafarers — made up of 22 Thai nationals — following an intelligence report from the United Kingdom border force.

Buba Marwa, NDLEA chairman, had on October 26 directed that an application be filed in court to confiscate the ship and detain the suspects for two weeks, pending the conclusion of investigation and filing of criminal charges.

Consequently, the agency secured an interim order from a federal high court in Lagos for the seizure of MV Chayanee Naree(pictured), a vessel allegedly used to import 32.9 kilograms of cocaine into Nigeria.


The court had also granted a request to detain Tanahan Krilerk, the master of the ship, 21 foreign crewmembers, and some other Nigerian dockworkers.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Femi Babafemi, NDLEA spokesman, said the agency also filed another application on Friday, November 12, seeking to renew the remand order.

Bababfemi said NDLEA’s clarification became necessary following claims by the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria that some of its members were being illegally detained.


He explained that six of the 18 dockworkers who were initially arrested have been released after investigations found nothing against them.

He said the remaining 12 with significant links were cooperating in the ongoing investigation.

“In line with the intelligence available, there is a syndicate of dockworkers, crew members with apparent international conspirators who work in synergy to traffic in illicit substances,” he said.

“In the case of a criminal investigation of this magnitude, it is lawful and expedient to investigate those within the purview of the agency’s reasonable suspicion.

“Already, two dockworkers are now on the run after absconding from their place of work, since the beginning of the investigation.

“All the agency’s actions are guided by international best practices and in line with global maritime standard operational procedure on arrest, seizure and detention of vessels and crew members.”

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