By Sumaila Ogbaje
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), retired Brig.-Gen. Muhammed Marwa, said the agency has secured 3,733 convictions of drug dealers in 24 months.
Marwa who said this on Wednesday in Abuja while briefing newsmen on the activities of NDLEA during his tenure, said 26,458 drug traffickers including 34 drug barons were also arrested within the period.
He said 2,346 convictions were recorded in 2022 alone, the highest in the history of the agency and almost doubled the highest ever recorded in the 33 years of NDLEA.
He added that the agency also counselled 19,401 addicts during the period.
“In 2022, I issued a New Year appeal to them and also warned that those who refused to heed the warning will find themselves in a difficult situation.
“Already, we have 34 barons in our net and they are facing the music in court. We have secured orders for the temporary forfeiture of their assets.
“In these two years, we arrested 26, 458 drug traffickers, among them, 34 barons. In 24 months, we successfully prosecuted 3,733 offenders who were convicted and handed various jail terms in court.
“This is not happenchance but a result of professionalism, determination, commitment and hard work of our officers, men and women,” he said.
Marwa described 2022 as an epoch year, saying that the agency had taken giant leap in drug demand reduction.
He said that the inauguration of the NDLEA drug abuse call centre had broadened access to treatment and rehabilitation.
“It is a year that NDLEA has unprecedented support too, notably from the Governors’ Wives Forum which made commitments to broaden and deepen social efforts to ameliorate the consequences of drug abuse,” the chairman added.
Marwa warned that unrepentant drug barons and cartels would face tougher time in 2023, promising to ensure that they spend long time in prison and lose their wealth and assets.
“The signs are clear: we have already in the first two weeks of this year taken down three major drug cartels, one of which has built extensive networks across the world while at least six of their kingpins are in our custody as I speak.
“The details you will get to know in the coming days.
“We also had support from our international partners, chiefly the UNODC, counterparts and governments of the United States, France, Germany, United Kingdom, India, and South Korea.
“The support came in the form of donations of equipment, training, intelligence and other logistics’’, he added.
The NDLEA boss assured Nigerians that the agency was firmly on the task of making Nigeria safe from illicit substances, adding that it was achievable.
He said that NDLEA would sustain its offensive action and shut down the drug route from other countries into Nigeria.
The chairman pledged that the agency would broaden access to treatment and rehabilitation, and carry Nigerians along on the journey to curb trafficking and abuse of substances in the country.
Marwa warned citizens to be wary in their dealings with people of questionable wealth, saying that the anticipated amendment of the NDLEA Act would strengthen the arm of the agency in its drug law enforcement.
“We look forward to arresting more barons and the 34 in the net presently will know their fate in court in the weeks and months ahead.
“The Proceed of Crime Act 2022 enacted last year has given us new leverage and I will like to remind those who benefit from the proceeds of drug crimes, this time, families, friends and associates, that our investigations are thorough.
“And where we find any link between a drug baron and private citizens, we shall scrutinise their assets. The onus is now on every citizen to be honest in their financial dealings with people whose source of wealth is suspect’’, he said.
He expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and other stakeholders for their support in the total transformation of the agency. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Gregg Mmaduakolam/Maharazu Ahmed