By Eguono Odjegba
INDUSTRY players and analysts have advised the leadership and management of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, to stick with the Standard Operating Procedure, SOP, in its operations at the nation’s ports and maintain synergy with sister government agencies in order to promote harmony, focus and acceptable corporate behaviour.
The admonition is coming on the heels of the alleged breach of protocol in which the NDLEA claimed responsibility for the arrest of the offensive drugs, describing the action as disturbing and capable of sending wrong signals.
National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Iju Tony Nwabunike, said the development may not be unconnected with the new leadership of NDLEA who, he believes, is still learning the ropes. He, however, urged operatives and commanders of the agency to respect the rules of engagement and help the agency achieve its mandate.
He said: “I think it is a sort of official conflict, but these have drastically reduced. Another thing I think is that maybe, it is because the new Chairman NDLEA, Gen. Buba Marwa, is new in the saddle. You know how it is with some subordinates, they want to impress him. I am sure that if they had informed him of the procedures of exchange and rules guiding synergy of operations and seized items, he wouldn’t have approved that announcement.
“What the Chairman NDLEA needs to do now is to get more briefing in other to avoid this sort of embarrassment in the future. There was a time the agencies were involved in exchange protocol, like in this situation, Customs will hand over seized items outside its purview to the agency involved.
“I understand the current Customs leadership pulled the Customs out of such arrangement because there were suspicions that seized items handed over to concerned agencies were not properly managed. I think what Customs does now is to invite the concerned agency to witness the seizure and its destruction.”
Also speaking on the development, President of All Ports Unified Freight Forwarding Practitioner, Chief Mike Okorie, faulted NDLEA for working outside the schedule of prescribed system, noting that rivalry amongst government agencies is the most destructive element in achieving government goals.
He stated: “The port is the Customs port. If the Customs makes seizures of items under the regulatory control of other agencies, they hand over such seizures. I think that it is a breach of protocol for NDLEA to make news of the seizure when the Customs have not handed over to it.
“I must tell you that this kind of behaviours and official infighting and rivalry cannot promote the objectives of government. The hurry to announce something you didn’t seize promotes unhealthy official relationship.
“The NDLEA boss should put his house in order and warn against jumping the gun. Importation monitoring is not politics, they should remove politics from the industry and work in concert.”
Also commenting, media consultant, social commentator and maritime resource person, Mr. Ismail Aniemu, said the matter may have been one of a slip not intended to cause disharmony. He said, “At this stage, it is difficult to drag the Chairman of NDLEA or his management into the court of public criticism.
“In this job of information management, I know there could be some slip. It is not my place to attribute this to a slip, but I am just giving a general overview.
“I also believe that both the Customs Service and NDLEA are united in driving their specific and general mandate, I know this little misunderstanding will be sorted out. The two agencies of the government and their leadership have everything to promote government cause, and for me, that is the most important thing. Customs has fulfilled all righteousness by inviting NDLEA and other relevant agencies for the joint physical examination.”