NDLEA trains 6 West African countries on dismantling clandestine labs
In order to strengthen regional action against drug cartels, Nigeria’s National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) organized a regional training on how to shut down clandestine laboratories for six West African nations.
The training was part of the ECOWAS project “Organised Crime: West African Response to Trafficking” (OCWART), which was co-funded by the European Union (EU) and German Federal Foreign Office and was primarily carried out by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) from March 27 to 29, and involved six other West African nations (Republic of Benin, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Cote D’Ivoire, and Nigeria).
NDLEA spokesperson Femi Babafemi stated that as the leading organization at the workshop, NDLEA drew from its practical knowledge gained from dismantling the 21 illegal laboratories discovered in Nigeria since 2011 to impart to other West African nations.
A team of NDLEA facilitators, including Joseph Nbona Sunday (Director, Prosecutions and Legal Services), Margaret Ogundipe (Director, Forensic and Chemical Monitoring), Adebowale Rahman (Digital Intelligence specialist), Anebi Ajilima (Forensic and crime lab expert), and Felix Tagbo, delivered a total of eight topical lectures, practicals, and Q&A sessions over the course of two days (Operation specialist).
The first two days of the workshop focused on a variety of angles on the subject, including the anatomy of a clandestine lab, fundamental investigation techniques for clandestine labs, intelligence gathering, operational safety, and guidelines for dismantling clandestine labs, clean-up and decontamination of illicit labs and sites, the fundamentals of controlled delivery, and prosecuting cases of clandestine laboratories.
The Nigerian contingent set up a mock clandestine laboratory at the Abidjan Police Academy, where the participants, divided into teams, took turns to dismantle and decontaminate it, to conclude the workshop on the third day.
The Serious Organized Crime and Counter Terrorism Coordination Directorate of Sierra Leone, the Drug Law Enforcement Agency of the Gambia (DLEAG), the Transnational Crime Unit of Liberia, and INTERPOL were among the organizations that the workshop’s seven participating countries sent representatives from.
The Organized Crime Fighting Unit (CELCO), Customs, and Narcotics Office (OCERTID) were on hand to represent the Republic of Benin, while the Joint Airport Interdiction Task Force (JAITF) and the Narcotics Squad from the Judicial Police (DPSD) were present from the host country, Côte d’Ivoire.
Ishaqu Suman Toure, a UNODC senior adviser for law enforcement in West and East Africa, gave this description of the workshop’s scope during the opening ceremony: “It is both enforcement and judicial capacity building. The project facilitates discussion of joint operations among member nations and provides technical and equipment support.
Toure continued, “We need regional cooperation to break the network of transnational criminal organizations,” noting that since 2014, South-South cooperation among ECOWAS member states has contributed to the eradication of transnational criminal activities.