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Drug trafficking: NDLEA arrests ex-Boko Haram fighter, monarch, others

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.As NAFDAC, Customs, Agency partner on narcotics, drug abuse menace among youths

 

A rehabilitated ex-fighter of the Boko Haram terror group, Alayi Madu, and the traditional ruler of Kajola, a border community between Ondo and Edo states, Baale Akinola Adebayo, are among 37 persons arrested over 2.2 tons of illicit drugs seized by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA.

 

They were arrested at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA Ikeja, Lagos and in raids across 12 states in the past week, according to the spokesman of the agency, Mr. Femi Babafemi.

 

He said as part of ongoing operations to mop up illicit drugs across the country ahead of the next round of elections, NDLEA officers in the early hours of Friday March 10, stormed Kajola forest in Kajola community, a border town between Edo and Ondo states where they destroyed three cannabis farms measuring 39.801546 hectares.

 

The owner of the farms who claims to be the Baale of Kajola, Akinola Adebayo, 35, was arrested on the farm at 2:30am, while two other suspects believed to be his workers: – Arikuyeri Abdulrahman, 23 and Habibu Ologun, 25 – were also nabbed in a hut near the farms.

 

In the same vein, a 26-year-old Alayi Madu, who was a Boko Haram fighter for 15 years before he surrendered to the Nigerian military in 2021 was intercepted by NDLEA operatives on Thursday, March 9, along Abuja-Kaduna Expressway with 10 kilograms of skunk, which he said he bought in Ibadan, Oyo State and was taking the consignment concealed in a sack to Maiduguri, Borno State.

 

In his statement, Madu said he was from Banki town, Borno State and joined the notorious terrorist organisation, in 2006 when he was nine years old.

 

He said he repented and surrendered to the military in 2021, after which he underwent rehabilitation and de-radicalisation processes at Umaru Shehu rehabilitation centre, Maiduguri and Malam Sidi de-radicalization centre, Gombe before he was discharged after spending six months.

 

Thereafter, he travelled to Ibadan, Oyo State where he worked as commercial motorcycle rider (Okada rider) before going into drug trafficking and his eventual arrest along Abuja-Kaduna Expressway.

 

At the Lagos airport in Ikeja, operatives acting on intelligence intercepted a consignment of 11.90 kilograms of heroin and 500grams of skunk concealed in deep freezers, which were part of a cargo that arrived from South Africa on Tuesday, March 7, onboard Ethiopian airline via Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

 

The Agency’s sniffer dogs were deployed to locate where the illicit drugs were hidden in the cargo and in no time, they identified the cartons packed in the deep freezers.

 

A total of four suspects that played active roles in the movement of the drugs and a truck driver have been arrested so far in connection with the seizure.

 

They include: Dairo Quam; Oluwaseun Ogunmene; Adeleke Abdulrasaq; Bamidele Adewale and Oluwafemi Ogunmeru.

 

Meanwhile, NDLEA operatives attached to the Gate C departure hall of the MMIA on Thursday, March 9, intercepted a passenger, Aigbedion Philomena, heading to Italy via Addis Ababa on an Ethiopian Airline flight.

 

When her bags containing body cream, hair attachments, drinks, and some food items were searched, a total of 1.20kg tramadol capsules concealed inside gift wrapping sheet and covered with old daily newspapers were discovered.

 

At the Idiroko land border, NDLEA operatives acting on intelligence on Thursday, March 9, intercepted a commercial Toyota Camry Salon Car with registration number JJJ 756 HB (Lagos) along Ilase-Akoko road, Idiroko, with 34 compressed jumbo size wraps of imported skunk weighing 17kg and concealed in two cooking gas cylinders.

 

Two suspects in the car, Benjamin Ajose, 48 and Oluwatobiloba Ajayi, 37, were arrested.

 

In Akwa Ibom State, Mrs. Hope Iniobong David, 42, was arrested with bags of cannabis sativa weighing 1,112kg (1.1 tons) in her house at Ediene Abak in Abak local government area, while operatives in Kogi State on Thursday, March 9, recovered 25 cartons, containing 50,000 ampoules of pentazocine injection weighing 200kg in a Toyota Hiace bus marked LAM 652 LG, Kogi, travelling from Lagos to Abuja.

 

Also, in Ogun State, operatives arrested a female drug dealer, Bola Egbebi in Ota local government, with different quantities of Cannabis Sativa, Methamphetamine, Tramadol 225, Skuchies, Molly and Codeine cough syrup, while in Gombe State, another female drug dealer, Fatima Hassan (a.k.a Boss) was arrested on Saturday, March 11, in her house at New Mile 3 area of Akko local government area with three and half blocks of skunk weighing 3.245kg.

 

Two other female drug dealers – Folake Ladipo and Adeola Babatunde – were arrested with 49.5kg skunk on Friday, March 10, in Mushin area of Lagos State.

 

In Kwara, operatives on patrol along Ilorin-Jebba highway on Tuesday, March 7, arrested two suspects – Ismaila Saidu and Dahiru Abdullahi – with 50 bags of cannabis sativa weighing 578 kilograms, while in the FCT Abuja, 15 suspects were transferred by the Nigerian Army with 35 bags of cannabis weighing 384.3kg.

 

A 56-year-old suspect, Shinayemà Kelenku, was arrested at Tse-kelenku Village, Logo local government area, Benue State, with 36.7kg skunk, while in Delta State, operatives intercepted a suspect, Chimeze Ndukaire, 56, conveying psychotropic substances worth over N30 million in a white Toyota Hiace bus with registration number Lagos FST 279 XS coming from Onitsha to Warri.

 

The vehicle was intercepted on Friday, March 10, at G.S.M junction, Asaba based on a tip-off.

 

Recovered from the bus include 267.3 litres of codeine (2,673 bottles); 25,110 pills of tramadol and other opioids.

 

In Kano State, NDLEA operatives on Saturday, March 11, raided the Sabon-gari area of Kano where they arrested a suspect, Chukwuebuka Christopher, and recovered from him 7,740 bottles of Codeine based syrup, measuring 774 litres, concealed inside 43 sacks of garlic.

 

Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) commended the officers, men and women of MMIA, Idiroko, Edo, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Kogi, Ogun, Gombe, Lagos, Kwara, FCT, Benue, Delta and Kano commands of the agency for their diligence and commitment to work.

 

He charged them and their compatriots across other commands not to rest on their oars.

Also, The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigeria Customs Service and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), have partnered to fight menace of narcotics and drug abuse among youths.

A statement by NAFDAC Resident Media Consultant, Mr Olusayo Akintola in Abuja on Sunday, stated that they all promised to collaborate to fight illicit drug production, trafficking and use, and to curb related organised crime.

The statement disclosed that the pledge

was made on Thursday in Lagos at the launch and dissemination of the 2022 Annual Report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and Precursors Report 2022.

The statement stated that NAFDAC   Director-General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, described narcotics and psychotropic substances as indispensable for the relief of pain and suffering.

She said that they were controlled within the framework of the three international conventions as they possessed abuse liability and produced dependence in users.

Adeyeye said that they were classified, not on chemical nature, but on the potential for abuse and the need for medical use of the substance.

She added that one of the control objectives was to ensure availability solely for medical and scientific uses while minimising the possibility of diversion to illicit channels and abuse.

According to her, the policy NAFDAC is to ensure availability, access and rational use as well as preventing illicit use and abuse.

“The international drug control conventions are thus interpreted to mean improved access to controlled medicines to enable countries to meet their drug needs.

She said that in order to ensure adequate availability of controlled medicines, the agency, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Health, carried out two quantifications of narcotics and estimation of psychotropic substances and precursors in 2017 and 2019.

Adeyeye said that the results of these surveys provide the evidenced-based estimation of our national annual requirements of these substances and enable the country to develop measures to achieve that delicate balance between access and control.

‘’According to the 2018 National Drug Use Survey, the prevalence of any drug use was 14.4 per cent or 14.3 million people between the age of 15 and 64 years.

“This is comparatively high, compared with the 2016 global annual prevalence of 5.6 per cent among adult population.

“The challenges arising from drug supply and consumption are not restricted to people who use drugs but have wider health, social and economic consequences on the family, community, and country.

“The report revealed that Cannabis is the most commonly used drug, an estimated 10.8 per cent of the population or 10.6 million people had used cannabis in the past year with the average age of initiation of cannabis used among the general population put at 19 years.

‘’Cannabis use was seven times higher among men (18.8 per cent among men against 2.6 per cent of women). The gender gap in the non-medical use of pharmaceutical opioids (such as tramadol) was less marked,” she stressed.

Adeyeye, however, said that Nigeria would not support the trend of legalisation of cannabis for non-medical use, as Nigeria lacked the financial capacity to fight cultivation, production and illegal use of the substance.

According to her, the non-medical use of Cannabis contravenes the United Nations Single Convention of 1961, which classifies cannabis as a highly addictive substance.

She disclosed that the Nigeria Indian Hemp Act as well as the NDLEA Act prohibited the cultivation, production, distribution, sales and use of cannabis and its extracts or derivatives for medical or non-medical purposes.

The D-G commended the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) for the assistance and support to the country in the fight against illicit drug production, trafficking and use, and in curbing related organised crime.

She also appreciated INCB for the support to NAFDAC towards enhanced regulatory control of narcotics and psychotropic substances.

The statement reported Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa, the Executive Chairman of NDLEA, as decrying the upsurge abuse of cannabis.

He decried an upsurge in abuse of cannabis amongst the Nigerian youths with its attendant negative effects on the society.

Marwa disclosed that the NDLEA, in a bid to address the problem, conceptualised the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) launched by President Mohammadu Buhari on June 26, 2021.

The statement said that Marwa was represented by one Mrs Victoria Ekase, and he noted that NAFDAC had been ensuring that controlled drug essential for human survival were provided for use where necessary in line with the requirements of INCB.

He said that NDLEA on its own part, collaborated with NAFDAC in ensuring that the measures put in place to prevent diversion of such medicines and substances to illicit use were adhered to.

According to him, NDLEA has arrested and prosecuted some traffickers of controlled and narcotics substances intended to be diverted to illicit uses.

He noted with dismay that It was quite worrisome that chemicals intended for research and industrial purposes were finding their ways into illicit drug manufacture.

‘’This is the area that NAFDAC and NDLEA need to deepen collaboration to ensure that such unwholesome acts are completely eliminated; the launch of the precursor report will go a long way to complement national efforts in this regard.

Marwa pledged that NAFDAC and NDLEA would continue to collaborate with major stakeholders at all levels to develop an efficient value-chain.

He said that they would continue to collaborate and support system that would ensure access to narcotics and controlled substances for medical and strategic purposes and preventing diversion for illicit use.

‘’I sincerely hope that the global launch of the report will enhance the integration and cooperation amongst stakeholders in ensuring effective implementation for the overall benefit of the society,” he said.

The statement also reported retired Col. Hameed Alli, the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, while commending NAFDAC, as saying that NAFDAC and NDLEA had been most wonderful.

Alli, who was represented by Ag. Assistant Comptroller General, ACG, A.N. Dappa, pledged the loyalty and support of the customs service in the task of ridding the nation of illicit drug.

‘’We have always been in partnership, and we will continue to work in close partnership with you,’’ he said. (NAN)

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