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Newly refurbished forensic lab will enhance NDLEA’s performance – Marwa

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Newly refurbished forensic lab will enhance NDLEA’s performance – Marwa

By: Michael Mike

Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Retd) has said that the upgrade of the forensic laboratory of the agency by the United States Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) will enhance operational standard and optimal performance of the anti-narcotics agency in its renewed fight against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in Nigeria.

Marwa who stated this at the commissioning of the agency’s newly refurbished forensic laboratory in Lagos on Wednesday, said “With this facility, we are now anticipating the provision of state-of-the-art analytical equipment, which will enhance optimal performance in line with standard operational laboratory procedures and best practices, which in turn will enhance evidence-based analytical processes in our forensic analysis.”

The project was facilitated by INL and implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC.

The NDLEA boss who was represented at the event by the agency’s Director of Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi emphasized the importance of modern forensic laboratories to the successful fight against illicit drugs in the country.

According to him: “Everyone who knows how pivotal a forensic laboratory is to drug investigations will share my sentiment. The forensic laboratory plays a critical role in the identification of drug exhibits, in the investigation of illicit drug manufacturing and the dismantling of clandestine laboratories. Ultimately, it reinforces the criminal justice system.

“Given the current situation of illicit drugs in Nigeria, a forensic laboratory is sine qua non for any meaningful effort to stymie the problem. The reason is obvious. In three decades, Nigeria has grown from a transit country to a country that produces a farrago of new psychoactive substances, NPS, and a place where there is proliferation of clandestine laboratories, of which we have discovered and dismantled over 23.

“Over the last three years that I have been Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, there have been seizures of record quantities of illicit drugs, approximately 7, 590 tons. What is remarkable about these seizures is that they include not only substances already under national and international control but also an unexpectedly high number of new psychoactive substances and combinations of illicit drugs prepared by chemists working in clandestine laboratories. These substances, constituting over 10,000 exhibits, found their way to the forensic laboratory for confirmatory analysis and identification.
“The poor infrastructure of our forensic laboratory translated into inadequacy to cope with the volume of work on ground. It is against this backdrop that INL intervened to sponsor the upgrading of the laboratory to a global standard and expand its capacity to cope with the challenging dynamics inherent in the analysis of new psychoactive substances, amphetamine-type stimulants, synthetic cannabinoids, and fentanyl opioids.”

Marwa expressed appreciation to the US government for approving funding for the project, which encompasses: strengthening the forensic and chemical analysis capacity of NDLEA; upgrading the interrogation room and provision of an e-library for prosecution. He equally commended the UNODC for painstaking implementation of the project.

He said some other benefits of the project so far include: the training of 20 NDLEA forensic analysts on drug identification and safe handling of synthetic opioids; provision of safety bags consisting of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); supply of 20 test kits for drugs and precursor chemicals for field identification; supply of laptops, desktop computer, and other ICT accessories among others.
Speaking at the event, U.S. Consul General Will Stevens highlighted the ongoing security cooperation between the United States and Nigeria.

He said: “The global opioid crisis calls for a coordinated, comprehensive, and multidisciplinary global response. The U.S. Mission in Nigeria has partnered with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency to modernize this chemical forensic laboratory in Lagos. This $500,000 investment will ensure our Nigerian partners have the state-of-the-art equipment and training needed to identify and analyze suspicious substances and evidence collected from crime scenes and suspects. We appreciate Nigeria’s strong regional leadership and commitment to work with us to combat this growing threat.”

In his remarks, the UNODC Deputy Country Representative, Danilo Campisi, commended the partnership with the United States INL and NDLEA, which he said “continues to demonstrate the effectiveness of these types of interventions, implemented by organisations like UNODC.”

“In the course of the past 12 months of implementing the first phase of this project, which primarily consisted of the provision of technical assistance, equipment and capacity building”, he stated adding that the next phase of the project, which will be implemented over the course of the next 12 months “is an opportunity to consolidate the interventions which will commenced in the first phase and we look forward to continuing the tripartite partnership between UNODC, the US Government and NDLEA ensuring that criminal drug trafficking networks are dismantled and brought to justice.”

Newly refurbished forensic lab will enhance NDLEA’s performance – Marwa

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Hardship: Zulum addresses IDPs threatening to go to bush, says I can’t do more

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Hardship: Zulum addresses IDPs threatening to go to bush, says I can’t do more

By: Our Reporter

Borno State Governor, Babagana Umara Zulum, on Sunday, said his administration cannot do more regarding distributing food items to internally displaced persons and vulnerable residents.

Zulum stated this in Mafa while addressing a group of internally displaced persons who have protested, threatening to go to the bush where Boko Haram terrorists camped.

The governor expressed displeasure over the action, and he said, “Yesterday, I received a report that some IDPs in Dikwa have protested that they will return to the bush because we could not provide food for them. This afternoon, others in Mafa have also done the same.”

Zulum said, “In the last couple of years, we have consistently provided food to internally displaced and vulnerable people. Believe me, what we are doing is even beyond our capacity.

“In the last four years, the Government of Borno State spent nothing less than N40b to provide food and non-food items to the people of the state.”

The governor said, “No government, be it state or federal, has the capacity to provide food to everyone and let me categorically state that I cannot do more than this,”

“The hardship we are facing is not only in Borno State but all over Nigeria. There are economic crises in all parts of the world. No state in Nigeria is doing better in the distribution of palliative than Borno,” Zulum stated.

He added, “We distributed food to IDPs and vulnerable communities every quarter. However, with the improvement in the security situation, we decided to reduce the number of our distribution because people have started earning their livelihood.”

“Most of you here (more than 80%) now have access to agricultural land, and I believe you have cultivated your farmlands and harvested your farm produce.”

“Both state and federal governments spend huge amounts of money on security. We have realised substantial progress in terms of development and security. Let me be frank with you that we will not condone mischievous acts by anyone.

The governor expressed gratitude to the federal government for providing the needed support to attain substantial peace in Borno State.

Hardship: Zulum addresses IDPs threatening to go to bush, says I can’t do more

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Disputed Business and Investment Forum Now to Hold During President Tinubu’s Official Visit to Qatar- Embassy

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Disputed Business and Investment Forum Now to Hold During President Tinubu’s Official Visit to Qatar- Embassy

By: Michael Mike

The disputed Business and Investment Forum (BIF) planned during the proposed official visit of President Bola Tinubu to Qatar is now going to hold, the Embassy of Qatar in Nigeria has revealed in an official correspondence with Nigeria’s ministry of foreign affairs.

It would be recalled that a leak official correspondence between The Qatari government and Nigeria’s ministry of foreign affairs last week had said the forum would not be holding during Nigeria’s President planned visit on March 2 and 3 due to the lack of a legally binding agreement between Qatar and Nigeria for the promotion of investment.

The leaked correspondence had also said Qatar’s ministry of commerce had other commitments on the days Nigeria’s president desired to visit.

Qatar further stressed that its commerce and industry minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Qassim al-Thani “will be carrying out official missions outside the country during the upcoming visit period” which makes him unavailable to meet with the Nigerian side for business and investment purpose.

The country also added that its officials would be too busy because Qatar was hosting its own “web summit” the same time Nigeria’s president planned to visit.

“The State of Qatar will be hosting a web summit during the suggested period and the state’s authorities will be preoccupied with this event,” the letter stated.

But in the latest correspondence between the Embassy of Qatar in Nigeria and the Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that the Qatar Chamber of Commerce will host the event on 3rd March 2024, as proposed by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

In the correspondence, the Embassy said it was glad to convey the readiness of Qatar Chamber of Commerce to host the forum to the Nigerian government.

Reacting to the latest correspondence in a statement on Sunday, the Special Adviser to Amb. Yusuf Tuggar, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alkasim Abdulkadir said the clarification has become necessary to clear deliberate misinformation and misrepresentations in the media on the purported cancellation of the event.

Disputed Business and Investment Forum Now to Hold During President Tinubu’s Official Visit to Qatar- Embassy

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Council of European Union’s Africa Working Group Begins 4-day Visit to Nigeria

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Council of European Union’s Africa Working Group Begins 4-day Visit to Nigeria

By: Michael Mike

Members of the Council of European Union’s Africa Working Party (COAFR) have arrived in Abuja to begin a four-day working visit to the country.

During the visit taking place from 26-29 February 2024, the COAFR members will engage with Nigerian authorities, government agencies, civil society groups, regional and international organisations and private sector actors in Abuja and in Lagos.

According to a statement on Sunday by the European Union in Nigeria, the Africa Working Party (COAFR) is mandated with the supervision and management of EU external policy towards the 46 countries of the sub-Saharan Africa, the African Union and other sub-regional organisations, including ECOWAS.

The Africa Working Party (COAFR) is composed of representatives of all 27 EU Member States, chaired by a permanent member of the European External Action Service (EEAS), and assisted by representatives of the Commission and the General Secretariat of the Council. It works under the auspices of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council (FAC), itself composed of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense and/or development of the 27 Member States of the European Union.

The statement said in Abuja, the visiting COAFR members will meet with key Federal Government ministries and agencies starting from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the National Security Adviser, the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, among others.

They will also have an interactive session with the ECOWAS Commission on regional developments and integration processes.
In Lagos, the COAFR is expected to meet with the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Consuls General of EU Member States, and the leadership of the European Business Chamber (EuroCham) Nigeria.

They will also visit several EU-funded projects in the state featuring digital and innovation, critical infrastructure and connectivity and migration. Deliberations during the meetings will centre on further boosting EU-Nigeria partnership.

The Africa Working Party’s (COAFR) visits to African countries aim at promoting direct contact, mutual information exchange and feedback between the political and foreign policy organs of the European Union and their African counterparts. They play an important role on taking stock of state and non-state actors views, perspectives, aspirations and expectations regarding their partnership with the European Union, its closest neighbour and its sister continent.

The team will commence a similar visit to the neighbouring Republic of Benin at the end of its current mission in Nigeria.

According to the statement, this is the group’s first-ever working visit to Nigeria, noting that in addition to the representatives of 17 EU Member States also officials from EU institutions, are expected to be in the team.

The statement further revealed that this year’s working visit will be the eleventh visit of the COAFR to the African continent, and the third visit to West Africa – following earlier visits to Senegal and Burkina Faso (2015) and Ivory Coast and Ghana (2019).

It said more than ever before, several top EU officials have visited Nigeria in recent years and months, underlining the importance the EU accords its partnership with the country.

Last October, the EU’s Commissioner for International Partnership, Ms. Jutta Urpilainen, her counterpart for Energy, Ms. Kadri Simson, led other top officials to participate in the EU-Nigeria Strategic Dialogue Meeting held Abuja. The Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Ms Helena Konig, and the Managing Director, Africa at the EEAS, Ms. Rita Laranjinha, were also in the country shortly before then, following the visits in 2022 of European Commission’s Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager in February 2022, EU and Member States Maritime Security Coordinators in April 2022 and senior officials of the European Commission in charge of Energy and Home Affairs.
is mandated with the supervision and management of EU external policy towards the 46 countries of the sub-Saharan Africa, the African Union and other sub-regional organisations, including ECOWAS.

The Africa Working Party (COAFR) is composed of representatives of all 27 EU Member States, chaired by a permanent member of the European External Action Service (EEAS), and assisted by representatives of the Commission and the General Secretariat of the Council. It works under the auspices of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council (FAC), itself composed of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense and/or development of the 27 Member States of the European Union.

In Abuja, the visiting COAFR members will meet with key Federal Government ministries and agencies starting from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the National Security Adviser, the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, among others. They will also have an interactive session with the ECOWAS Commission on regional developments and integration processes.

In Lagos, the COAFR is expected to meet with the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Consuls General of EU Member States, and the leadership of the European Business Chamber (EuroCham) Nigeria.

They will also visit several EU-funded projects in the state featuring digital and innovation, critical infrastructure and connectivity and migration. Deliberations during the meetings will centre on further boosting EU-Nigeria partnership.

The Africa Working Party’s (COAFR) visits to African countries aim at promoting direct contact, mutual information exchange and feedback between the political and foreign policy organs of the European Union and their African counterparts. They play an important role on taking stock of state and non-state actors views, perspectives, aspirations and expectations regarding their partnership with the European Union, its closest neighbour and its sister continent. The team will commence a similar visit to the neighbouring Republic of Benin at the end of its current mission in Nigeria.

This is the group’s first-ever working visit to Nigeria. In addition to the representatives of 17 EU Member States also officials from EU institutions, are expected to be in the team. This year’s working visit will be the eleventh visit of the COAFR to the African continent, and the third visit to West Africa – following earlier visits to Senegal and Burkina Faso (2015) and Ivory Coast and Ghana (2019).
More than ever before, several top EU officials have visited Nigeria in recent years and months, underlining the importance the EU accords its partnership with the country. Last October, the EU’s Commissioner for International Partnership, Ms. Jutta Urpilainen, her counterpart for Energy, Ms. Kadri Simson, led other top officials to participate in the EU-Nigeria Strategic Dialogue Meeting held Abuja. The Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Ms Helena Konig, and the Managing Director, Africa at the EEAS, Ms. Rita Laranjinha, were also in the country shortly before then, following the visits in 2022 of European Commission’s Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager in February 2022, EU and Member States Maritime Security Coordinators in April 2022 and senior officials of the European Commission in charge of Energy and Home Affairs.

Council of European Union’s Africa Working Group Begins 4-day Visit to Nigeria

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