The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has revealed that it arrested about 26,458 suspects, 34 of whom were drug barons, and secured the conviction of 3,733 drug peddlers within the last two years.
The anti-narcotics agency also said it counselled and rehabilitated 19,401 drug abuse victims within 24 months.
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, the NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.), made the revelation at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, in commemoration of his second-year anniversary as the head of the anti-narcotics agency.
Marwa said, “Already, we have 34 barons in our net and they are facing the music in court, and we have secured orders for the temporary forfeiture of their assets. With our prosecution being topnotch, they can look forward to a long term in prison and final forfeiture of their wealth and assets.
“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.
“Of the conviction figure, 2,346 were recorded in 2022 alone, which is the highest in the history of the agency and almost doubled the highest ever recorded in the 33 years of the NDLEA. This is not happenstance but a result of professionalism, determination, commitment, and hard work of our officers, men and women.”
He further noted that the NDLEA had taken down three major drug cartels, one of which had built extensive networks across the world, while at least six of their kingpins were in custody, within the first two weeks of January, 2023.
This was as he warned that unrepentant drug barons and cartels would face tougher times in 2023, if they failed to back out of the illicit drug business.
He said, “Last year, 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.
“We took a giant leap in drug demand reduction with the establishment and commissioning of the NDLEA drug abuse call centre which broadened access to treatment and rehabilitation. It was a year we had 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.
“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.
“At our end, we will sustain our offensive action and shut down the pipeline from other countries into Nigeria. We shall broaden access to treatment and rehabilitation, and we will continue to carry Nigerians along on this journey to curb the trafficking and abuse of substances in Nigeria.”
Marwa further warned citizens to be wary in their dealings with people of questionable wealth, adding that the anticipated amendment of the NDLEA Act would strengthen the arm of the agency in its drug law enforcement.
He added, “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.
PUNCH Nigeria Ltd