Pubdate: Fri, 23 Apr 2004
Source: Vanguard (Nigeria)
Copyright: 2004 Vanguard.
Author: Salisu Dambatta
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Heroin)



The NDLEA Has Joined the List of Government Institutions Making Waves 
Internationally. ....

Nigerians are justifiably happy and proud of the impact of some government 
institutions that have done what they are meant to do, that is, rendering 
services to the society, thereby positively touching our lives, 
individually and collectively.

The most celebrated of these institutions in Nigeria today is the National 
Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), under the 
effective leadership of Dr. Dora Akunyili, a lady who really deserves all 
the honour and kudos she is getting for a job well done in the promotion 
and protection of the public good. This is in the spirit of the service 
delivery vision and focus of the Federal Government. Under the government 
of President Olusegun Obasanjo, several other national institutions are 
equally performing or doing a good job for this country. And their success 
stories ought to be acknowledged and celebrated by Nigerians. Take the 
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) led by Alhaji Nuhu Ribadu, 
an Assistant Commissioner of Police, for instance. The body has busted 
several syndicates of big time swindlers who contributed in smearing the 
good name of this country, the biggest and most discomforting being the 
US$242 million scam. The newly established Federal Road Maintenance Agency 
(FERMA) is also successfully smoothing Nigerian roads.

But the main focus of this write-up is the National Drug Law Enforcement 
Agency (NDLEA), the 15-year old government parastatal assigned the 
responsibility of checking drug abuse, drug trade and other dirty 
activities in the narcotics underground economy that devastate our image 
and reputation as a nation-state and as a human society. The Agency came 
into being when Nigeria was increasingly earning notoriety as a major 
transit centre for international drug barons, who were bold enough to 
induce and employ some Nigerians as drug couriers or traffickers, to our 
national dismay.

Although Nigeria started its drug war through the law in 1935, or in the 
colonial era, the drug problem persisted and became so pervasive that one 
of the pilots of our national airline was on one occasion involved in the 
trafficking of hard drugs. There was a dark spot in the history of this 
country when Nigerians were regularly caught in some European, Asian and 
American international airports with hard drugs. A former Senator of the 
Federal Republic was arrested with drugs in a foreign country, to the 
embarrassment of our fatherland.

A military government was so concerned with the damage trafficking in hard 
drugs and other narcotics-related activities were doing to this country 
that it enacted a strong law, via Decree 20 of 1984, just as the case 
elsewhere in the world, making the offences punishable by death. Although 
the death penalty as a deterrent against drug trafficking was removed after 
severe criticisms by the media and the human rights community in the 
country, this has not made the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) 
to relent in discharging its mandate in the interest of this country. And 
in doing that, it has recorded successes, worthy of celebrating by Nigerians.

New leadership

Currently under the leadership of Alhaji Bello Lafiaji, an experienced and 
skilful security administrator, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency 
has earned the country several pats on the back for its efforts, most 
visibly certification by the United States Government for three years in a 
row, that was in 2001, 2002 and 2003.It is our fervent hope that the 
leadership of the NDLEA would do it again for Nigeria this year to save our 
country from certain penalties, and Nigerians from embarrassing searches in 
foreign airports, especially against the citizens of countries not 
certificated as adequately fighting international drug or narcotics 

It is equally important for Nigerians to know that the NDLEA earned 
recognition and commendation for Nigeria in the year 2002 from the 
Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crimes (UNODC) 
for its work to take Nigeria off the list of drug trafficking nations. 
Nigeria is a model in this. As a result of the successful efforts of the 
NDLEA in fighting the drug and narcotics crimes, Nigeria was re-admitted 
into the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (UNCND) after being 
suspended for four years, and the country rejoined the United Nations 
Economic and Social Commission (UNESCO), also after a four-year suspension, 
thus contributing to end our much talked-about pariah status in the comity 
of nations.

It is on record that the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations 
(FBI) has commended the NDLEA for its excellence in investigation and the 
ability to detect lawbreakers.

Indeed, information from the NDLEA indicate that Nigeria is currently the 
secretary of the European Working Group of International Drug Enforcement 
Conference, while Brazil, Argentina and South Africa have requested Nigeria 
to assist them in dismantling drug syndicates operating in their 
territories. Similarly, there is a 'scramble' by West African and other 
African countries to be availed of the opportunity of training at the NDLEA 
Academy. The First International Course takes off this month (April 2004)," 
an informational document from the NDLEA said.

Our neighbours were impressed by the West Africa Joint Operation (WAJO) 
introduced by Nigeria and the United States Drug Enforcement Agency "to 
facilitate exchange of intelligence and cross border operations in the 
sub-region." They fully subscribed to the idea and it is working for 
Nigeria and the sub-region. Sustaining the current routine training of 
personnel is essential, and the introduction of a reward system for 
dedicated staff and the posting of some NDLEA officers to some of our 
embassies in the sub-region for on the spot monitoring and sharing of 
information on the activities of drug barons there, may be explored.

"One of the yardsticks for assessing performance in the counter-narcotics 
enterprise is the frequency of interdictions. Since October 2000, the 
figures have been most impressive," says the NDLEA in a prelude to giving 
the breakdown of drugs seizures, arrests of suspects, successful 
prosecutions and the number of hectres of cannabis destroyed in the country 
in the years 2001, 2002 and 2003.

NDLEA's arrests

The NDLEA said that it arrested 2,855 suspects with drug-related offences 
in 2001. The figure for 2002 was 2,657 and a slightly lower 2,490 in 2003. 
Of the 2,855 suspects arrested in 2001, 1,172 of them were successfully 
prosecuted. In 2002, 870 suspects out of the 2, 657 arrested were 
convicted. The number of convicts in 2003 was 815 out of 2,490 suspects in 
the NDLEA net.

In terms of hectres of cannabis destroyed, the NDLEA reports that 497 
hectres of the grass were burnt in 2001. In the year 2002, the Agency 
detected and destroyed 502.30 hectres of the weed. In 2003, a total of 
455.5 hectres of wiwi or marijuana were destroyed before harvest and 
unleashing onto the Nigerian and foreign markets. More needs to be done 
here as "cannabis production and export has increased," the report says.

As for Cocaine and Heroine, the more notorious drugs that attract extra 
interest from the international community, which are luckily not produced 
in this country, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency reported 
detecting and the seizure of 89.2735 kilogrammes of cocaine in 2001, 
35.3471 kilogrammes in 2002 and an astonishing 134.7427 kilogrammes in 
2002. The figures for seizures of heroine were 34.9506 kilogrammes for 
2001, 55.6264 kilogrammes for 2002 and 89.5795 kilogrammes for 2003. The 
seizures saved a lot of damage to potential consumers. One important fact 
regarding the NDLEA, as indicated in a document supplied to this writer by 
the Agency, is that a number of its operatives have spurned offers of bribe 
by apprehended drug barons, "including the rejection of a bribe of N50 
million to compromise an arrest of 60 kilogrammes of cocaine worth N1 
billion on the streets."

The success recorded so far by the NDLEA under Dr. Bello Lafiaji could be 
attributed to his re-engineering of the organisation, which in turn 
produced higher staff morale, the fair funding it receives from the Federal 
Government, the massive material contributions by many state governments, 
collaboration with its counter-part agencies abroad, the support of the 
Nigerian media and a general determination on the part of Nigeria to see 
that drug-related crimes are reduced to the barest minimum.
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