The Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Ahmadu Giade has revealed how 197 convicted drug traffickers manipulated their way out of lawful custody. Giade made the disclosure during the public destruction of 18,791.5953kg of illicit drugs at Bereko, Badagry Lagos.
“The plot was uncovered by the NDLEA when a drug convict who ought to be in prison was re-arrested while attempting to smuggle drugs at the Kano airport. That was how a cartel that aided 197 convicted drug traffickers to evade serving their sentences was detected by the NDLEA. The Police investigated the case and confirmed my findings that 197 drug convicts were left off the hook with the connivance of some court clerks and prison warders” Giade stated.
Giade explained that “statutorily, NDLEA has no business taking care of an accused once the person had been arraigned and remanded in prison custody. The Agency discovered that the criminal act took place between the court and the prison after an accused had been sentenced. This is a wake-up call for stakeholders to remain sensitive and prevent any act capable of undermining the criminal justice system. We must continue to discharge our responsibilities without compromise from the time a case is reported to when a convict completes serving the prescribed punishment by the court”.
The destroyed drugs weighing 18,791.5953kg were seized by the NDLEA Lagos State Command, Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) Command, Seme Border Special Area Command and the National Headquarters. All cases relating to the destroyed drugs have been heard and disposed by the Federal High Court. The drugs include 18,420.71kg of cannabis, 268.9533kg of cocaine/heroin and 101.932kg of methamphetamine/ephedrine.
Drug trafficking according to the NDLEA boss is a crime that must be fought by all. “Drug trafficking is a transnational organised crime capable of undermining global security. This has degenerated in some regions of the world into political and social instability with negative impact on the rule of law, human rights and economic development. In some cases, illicit proceeds of opium and cocaine smuggling are used in funding acts of terrorism and insurgency. Drug control must therefore be given priority attention by all countries” Giade stated.
Nigeria has maintained an enviable scorecard in her counter-narcotic efforts by dislodging many drug trafficking syndicates. In addition to the prosecution of drug barons, the Agency also confiscates illicit drug proceeds. This helps to take away the pecuniary attraction from the criminal act and deter others who are planning to smuggle drugs.
The NDLEA is enforcing strict compliance with the rules of engagement. Internal anti-corruption policy has assisted in promoting discipline and good conduct among staff. This is a war that must be fought and won both internally and externally. Officers that contravened the regulations had been appropriately sanctioned. There are no exceptions to the rule. In serious cases of compromise, erring staff had been dismissed and in addition made to face court trial.
The NDLEA boss said that drug barons shall have no place to hide in Nigeria. While assuring that the Agency will continue to trace them to their hideouts, arrest and prosecute them; he urged parents and members of the public to be wary of the antics of drug cartels. Some of the antics employed by drug barons include promise of white collar jobs to youths abroad, financial assistance and assurance of protection.
In his words, “this must stop. I urge parents to be vigilant and report suspected drug dealers to the nearest NDLEA office. They must not abdicate their responsibility of monitoring their wards and children. The Agency will continue to mitigate the problem of drug addiction through effective drug supply control and demand reduction strategies. Immediate medical help should be sought for persons addicted to drugs”.
The Chairman commended the officers that seized the drugs and promised to improve on staff welfare. The event was attended by UNODC representative from Dakar Mr. Daouda Gadiaga; Head Analysis Unit Milan Airport, Mr. Cristian Fanelli; Commanding Officer Ibereko Barracks Colonel Isa T.; Commanding Officer Topo Barracks Lt. Colonel Enemchukwu; His Royal Highness Alachipa of Achipa land, Alhaji Shehu Usman Ayeni; Comptroller Immigration Domyil Barko; Sector Commander FRSC, S. U. Galadumchi; Navy Commander, S. O. Ebi; Badagry Local Government Chairman Honourable Kappo Elizabeth and other dignitaries.