The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, has said that it has seized no fewer than 286 assets and 600 bank accounts of drug barons between January 2021 and August 2022.
NDLEA spokesman, Femi Babafemi, who disclosed this in a document Tuesday, said the assets consisted of 249 exotic cars and 37 mansions scattered all across the country.
TheFact Daily gathers that the agency’s seizures came against the backdrop of the categorisation of Nigeria by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as the transit point for “heroin and cocaine intended for European, East Asian, and North American markets.”
According to the UN agency, since 2004 “drug traffickers have been increasingly using West African countries, including Nigeria for smuggling large amounts of cocaine from South America into Europe and North America. The country has a relatively high rate of drug abuse due to the continued availability of illicitly manufactured and diverted pharmaceutical products containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.”
The NDLEA, in the document said it was faced with the “overwhelming task of drug control in a country with an exceptionally high prevalence of drug use of 14.4 per cent.”
The anti-narcotics agency also indicated that it seized N871.53m worth of illegal drug funds between January 2021 and August 2022. If that amount, N619.12m was recorded as final illegal drug funds forfeiture while N252.41m was recorded as interim forfeiture. The agency grouped this under its drug supply reduction effort where it revealed that it arrested 18,940 suspected drug traffickers from January 2021 to July 2022. This number comprises of 17,444 males and 1,496 females including 12 barons.
During the period under review, the agency saw the conviction of 2,904 offenders to various jail terms in court; seizure of 3. 6 million kilograms of narcotic and psychotropic substances and detection and destruction of 691 hectares of cannabis farms across six states.
Under its drug supply reduction efforts, it stated, “Assets and financial investigation: Illicit drug funds that were investigated and seized include Final Forfeiture―(i.) One million, three hundred and nineteen thousand, four hundred dollars ($1,319,400) (ii.) One hundred and two thousand pounds (£102,000) (iii.) Fourteen million CFA Francs (CFA 14, 000, 000) ― and Interim forfeiture―Two hundred and fifty-two million, forty hundred and seven thousand, seven hundred and twenty-six-naira, twenty Kobo, (N252,407,726.20).”
The currencies were converted at the Central Bank of Nigeria’s official rate of September 2, 2022. At the time, one dollar was N424.55; one pound was N490.78, and one CFA was N0.64.
It revealed that it dismantled clandestine meth laboratories following the outbreak of abuse of crystal methamphetamine, popularly called Mkpuru Mmiri in 2021.
It also disclosed that its operational assets were able to locate and dismantle illicit meth laboratories across the country with recent discoveries in Victoria Garden City, Ajah, Lagos and Nise Community, Anambra State.
According to the agency, 12,326 drug-dependent people had been counselled, treated, and rehabilitated in its facilities.
The NDLEA also disclosed that it has secured an interim seizure of 25 properties belonging to billionaire businessman, Mallinson Ukatu, who is on trial for allegedly importing tramadol valued at N3bn into the country.
The agency has also warned politicians and their supporters against the use of drugs in the campaigns for the 2023 elections, which would begin on September 28, adding that it would work with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and other stakeholders to prevent the use of drugs at campaign rallies.
“More officers and assets have been deployed on the roads and other strategic locations to make the movement of these illicit drugs difficult and our recent arrests and seizures attest to this.
“Anyone found in possession of illicit drugs violates the law and definitely risks arrest for investigation and possible prosecution”, Babafemi said.
Advising candidates against buying drugs for youths, he stated, “They need to have a rethink because such has adverse effects not only for the thugs and the youths but their families, communities, the process and the country. The politicians doing this may end up being victims themselves.
“The agency works with an enabling Act and the provisions are clear on possession, production, distribution and peddling of illicit substances”, the statement warned.
Credit: Punch Newspapers