The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has partnered with Nigeria’s anti-narcotics agency, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), to provide an upgraded forensic laboratory to enhance the fight against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in Nigeria.
The new laboratory was facilitated by the United States Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and implemented by the UNODC at Ikoyi, Lagos State.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony on Wednesday, the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, General Mohamed Buba Marwa (Rtd.) said that the upgrade of the agency’s laboratory will enhance the operational standards and optimal performance of the NDLEA
“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,” Marwa said.
The project by UNODC also includes 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.
Represented by the Agency’s Director of Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, the executive officer emphasised the importance of modern forensic laboratories to the successful fight against illicit drugs in the country.
“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 in the dismantling of clandestine laboratories. Ultimately, it reinforces the criminal justice system.” He said.
Also reacting to the UNODC project, the U.S. Consul General, Will Stevens, highlighted the ongoing security cooperation between the United States and Nigeria.
“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 modernise 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 analyse 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.” Stevens said.
The UNODC Deputy Country Representative, Danilo Campisi, also 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”.
Campisi affirmed that the next phase of the project, which will be implemented over the next 12 months “is an opportunity to consolidate the interventions which we 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.”