475 jailed in 3 months
The global outcry against usage and trafficking of cocaine, heroin and other illicit drugs led the federal government to take series of measures to stem the menace, including the setting up of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in 1990 by the Military President, Gen Ibrahim Babangida.
Since then, the nation has been in games of wit with illicit drug users and traffickers with local and international networks and dimensions.
In the past year under Brig Gen Mohamed Buba Marwa (Rtd) as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA the agency has made some mind-bugling arrests and seizures.
N50bn illicit drugs burnt in Abuja
In one of the major operations of NDLEA, assorted illicit drugs worth over N50bn were on Tuesday destroyed in Abuja.
Speaking at the event, Gen Marwa said the public destruction and burning of the 20 tons or 19,598kg illicit drugs was a further affirmation of the anti-narcotics agency’s resolve to wage total war against drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking in Nigeria.
“We may recall that when President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) campaign of the NDLEA on June 26, 2021, he declared that, ‘WADA should not just be a slogan, but a call to civil action by all Nigerians.’
“Today’s (Tuesday) public destruction of 20 tons of illicit drugs and substances further buttresses that call to action,” Marwa said.
N120bn drugs seized in 1 year
Speaking to Daily Trust on Sunday, spokesman of NDLEA, Mr Femi Babafemi, said 10,355 suspects were arrested this year alone; comprising 8,635 males; 1,720 females, and 3.1m kg of illicit drugs seized across the country.
He also said that cash and drugs jointly valued at over N120bn were seized.
On prosecution and conviction of illicit drug traffickers, Babafemi said over 1,000 were serving jail terms while some were on bail; with over 3,232 court cases instituted by the agency; and adding that clients counselled and rehabilitated stood at 5,579.
When asked what happens to seized drugs, the NDLEA spokesman said that seized drugs were usually warehoused until cases linked to them were disposed off in courts, and a court order obtained to destroy them just as was recently done by the FCT command of the agency.
Some cocaine, heroin seizures since January
In the first of such seizures under the administration of Marwa, operatives of the NDLEA at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) Command, Abuja, on January 18, intercepted 21.9kg of cocaine.
The then spokesman of the agency, Mr Jonah Achema, said that the illicit substance concealed in two suite cases was the largest single seizure by the command.
He said the two unaccompanied and unclaimed suit cases were discovered after the arrival of Ethiopian Airline ET 910 in Abuja from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
On January 27, a parcel weighing 26.840kg of cocaine considered as “the biggest single seized from an individual in the past 15 years” was intercepted.
A female passenger named Onyejegbu Ifesinachi Jennifer (33) who arrived Nigeria from Sao Paulo, Brazil, via Addis Ababa was intercepted by NDLEA operatives.
Officials of the agency said that as a standard operating procedure, all passengers to and from high-risk countries were always profiled using passenger manifest and that it happened that the above-named suspect was targeted.
Field test was conducted on the recovered substances and they proved positive for cocaine and weighed 26.850kg.
The suspect, who is a hair stylist and based in Brazil was interviewed and she confessed to have agreed to smuggle the hard drug for the sum of N2m.
Two days earlier, on January 25, at the same airport, a red left-over luggage was declared to the NDLEA operatives as a left over at the e-arrival hall after the inward clearance of passengers on an Ethiopian airline.
Based on information on the luggage tag, the luggage arrived Nigeria from Sao Paulo, Brazil, a destination classified as high-risk country going by records and trends of arrest and seizures.
Subsequently, the bag was transferred to the NDLEA “Legal Seat” being the administrative office at the passenger terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport.
The NDLEA Commander at the MMIA, Ahmadu Garba, received intelligence report of a purported plan to clear a consignment containing hard drugs through the Lagos airport. Coincidentally, the details sent matched the bag earlier detained by the operatives.
Another NDLEA official explained how an undercover agent was contacted by one Abubakar Aliyu. The undercover agent successfully lured the said Abubakar Aliyu into the cargo terminal of the airport where he was arrested.
The suspect revealed to NDLEA operatives that another person was on his way to receive the bag based on the instruction of his sender whose name he gave as Ikechukwu Eze.
As a result, one Emmanuel Iyke Aniebonam, who was to receive the bag was also arrested at NAHCO.
During a preliminary interview by a team of investigators, Emmanuel confessed that he was instructed by one Ikechukwu to receive the consignment.
Emmanuel was again set up to lure in Ikechukwu Eze but rather than showing up to get the consignment from Emmanuel, he sent another who said he was mandated to receive the consignment from him, and they agreed to meet at Ibis Royal Hotel, a few miles away from the airport.
On January 24, at about 1200 hours, one Edosa Christopher was arrested at the screening point of the MMIA, Lagos, and subjected to body scan, which proved positive for hard drugs ingestion.
The suspect was transferred to NDLEA/JBTF office and placed on excretion observation. Subsequently, he excreted a total of 68 wraps of a substance, which were tested and proved positive to heroin weighing 950g.
During an interview, Edosa Christopher confessed to have bought the illicit substance at the cost of N800,000 from someone he referred to as “Paddy”.
On February 1, another cocaine cartel was busted at the MMIA when one Bright Onyekachi was nabbed with 3.30kg of the drug.
The drug dealer reportedly arrived Nigeria aboard an airline from Sao Paulo, Brazil, also via Addis Ababa.
Although the hard drug was concealed in T-shirt stickers, they were still discovered by NDLEA detectives.
Also, the agency’s officials intercepted 40 parcels of cocaine weighing 43.1kg and valued at over N32bn at the Tin Can Port in Lagos.
The spokesman of NDLEA, Mr Femi Babafemi, on February 24, said NDLEA officials in a raid in parts of Lagos intercepted 0.183kg of cocaine and 0.003kg of heroine, with 90 suspects, including an Indian, arrested.
Recent arrests, seizures
NDLEA operatives arrested a businesswoman heading to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for Umrah (Lesser Hajj) at the NAIA, Abuja, for ingesting 80 pellets of cocaine.
The 46-year-old Mrs Adisa Afusat Olayinka who lives in Ibafo, Ogun State, hails from Ilorin, in Ilorin East Local Government Area of Kwara State.
She was arrested on Wednesday, November 24, at the boarding screening area of the airport during an outward clearance of Qatar Airways flight 1418.
She was subsequently taken into custody where she excreted 80 pellets of the illicit drug between Wednesday and Saturday.
She claimed during interviews that she saved N2.5m over a period of one year to buy the drugs in bits from six different people at Akala, Mushin area of Lagos.
Few days before Mrs Olayinka’s arrest, operatives of the NDLEA arrested a 32-year-old drug trafficker based in Liberia, Maduabuchi Chinedu, at the NAIA, with 9.30kgs of cocaine worth over N2.7bn in street value.
The suspect who hails from Obaha Okigwe village, Okigwe Local Government Area of Imo state, lives in Liberia where he works as a miner.
Also, NDLEA officials arrested a Brazil-based drug dealer, Okafor Okwudili Moses, over a 2.55kg of cocaine recovered from a toilet at the e-arrival hall of MMIA, Ikeja, Lagos.
The drug was discovered in the toilet of the airport on Friday, November 12, after it was dumped there by a trafficker who was obviously scared.
The following day, Saturday, November 13, the owner of the consignment, Okafor, arrived the airport from Brazil via an Ethiopian Airline flight and was arrested.
In another vein, NDLEA officers arrested a notorious drug dealer, Okoli Collins Ikenna, who is the mastermind of recent multiple attempts to export illicit drugs to London through MMIA. State.
Okoli has been on court bail following his arrest in November, 2020, and subsequent arraignment before a Lagos Federal High Court for attempting to export 15.700kg of methamphetamine to Australia.
Nursing mother on bail arrested for another drug crime
A nursing mother who claims to be a part-time 400-level student of International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of Benin, Mariam Adetilewa Dirisu, was in October arrested for trafficking in 5kg skunk and 8.1g of molly.
Mariam’s arrest came barely one week after she was arrested and granted bail for attempting to smuggle drugs concealed in cassava flour called “akpu” into an NDLEA cell to a suspect in custody.
The 35-year-old mother of a two-month-old-baby was first arrested on October 21, by the Edo State Command of the agency.
Gen Marwa had same day directed that she be counselled and released immediately because of the baby she was carrying.
Curiously, a controlled delivery operation carried out by operatives of the Delta State Command of the agency on Saturday, October 30, again led to the arrest of Mariam who had ordered for the drugs from Lagos even while still on bail for an earlier offence.
475 traffickers jailed for drug offences in 3 months
The agency revealed that over 475 persons were convicted and sentenced to various jail terms between September and November, 2021, following charges filed against them by the agency, at Federal High Courts across the country.
Spokesman of the agency, Femi Babafemi, said in Abuja that the figure represents a portion of the over 1,000 traffickers that were jailed between January and November.