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U.S. Consul General Will Stevens’ Remarks At the Official Handover of the NDLEA Forensics Lab and Offices
Wednesday, January 10, 2024 – Ikoyi, Lagos
January 10, 2024

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and distinguished guests.  I would like to express my appreciation to everyone that has worked to make today’s event a reality.  I would like to extend a special thanks to the Chairman and Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Brigadier General Mohammed Buba Marwa and his team; and the Country Representative and team of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Nigeria.  It is a pleasure to be here with you.

We are gathered here today because we are faced with a common threat of illegal drugs and drug trafficking.  Illicit drug production, trafficking, and consumption are linked to organized crime, illegal financial flows, corruption, and increasingly terrorist financing.  There is also an individual impact of illegal drugs, for those who struggle with drug abuse and their families and friends.  According to the CDC, in the United States, more than 100,000 individuals were estimated to have died from drug overdose in the last year.  This is a challenge that is global in nature and does not respect international borders.

We all need to work together to fight this transnational crime because it endangers us all.  Criminal organizations in Nigeria and other parts of Africa have learned simplified but effective production methods to convert uncontrolled precursor chemicals into methamphetamine, making Nigeria a growing methamphetamine producer and supplier.  These organizations have formed alliances with other criminal organizations across the world.  This increasing flow of drugs is a threat to African countries, the United States, and the world.  The same people who can move drugs can also move weapons, people, wildlife goods, and other illicit products.  This threatens the security of not just one nation or people, but the international community.  We appreciate Nigeria’s strong regional leadership to combat these threats, its committed efforts to stops these criminal activities within the borders of Nigeria, and its partnership with the United States.

The global opioid crisis calls for a coordinated, comprehensive, and multidisciplinary global response.  The synthetic drugs market is increasingly diverse, posing challenges for detecting, identifying, and monitoring as well as controlling these substances.

It is with pride that U.S. Mission in Nigeria has partnered with the NDLEA to renovate and modernize this chemical forensic laboratory in Lagos.  This $500,000 investment will ensure our partners have the state-of-the-art equipment needed to analyze suspicious substances and evidence collected from crime scenes and suspects.

Experts working at this Forensic laboratory play an important role in detecting and identifying both known and new chemical substances as they change in the drugs markets.  To ensure they and their colleagues around the country are best equipped to meet the evolving trends in the illegal drug market, the U.S. government has committed to sending Nigerian laboratory technicians on professional exchanges in the United States to allow them to learn best practices in the field.

On this note, I call on the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, especially the scientists at the forensic lab to carry out their duties to the best of their abilities, making optimal use of this upgraded laboratory equipment that is being handed over to them today We look forward to continued collaboration with the Nigerian Government through our partner agencies to combat narcotics and disrupt the global spread of illegal drugs, especially synthetic drugs, affecting both of our societies.  Thank you very much.