Why NDLEA is yet to prosecute 544 drug trafficking suspects in Borno ─Commandant

*The National Drug Law Enforcement has stated the sheer quantum of drugs mopped up in Borno State in 2020 indicates there is a nexus between hard drugs and insurgency in the region

*Announces the largest seizure of 26.840 kilograms of cocaine at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos in 15 years

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

In line with the Management’s recent marching order to the agency’s operatives to rid Nigeria of illicit drugs to ensure the wellbeing of the populace, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Borno State Command, has said it has been unable to prosecute about 544 suspected drug dealers arrested in 2020 because of COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Icha Joseph, Borno State Commandant of NDLEA, who disclosed this at a news conference Saturday, January 30, 2021, in Maiduguri,  the state capital, said during the lockdown in 2020, the courts were not open at all and as a result, many cases are still pending at the Federal High Court, Maiduguri.

The Commandant stated a total of 16, 904.313kg of illicit drugs were seized in the past year, the largest seizure ever recorded in a Northern state of the country.

Joseph noted the quantum of drugs mopped up in the state indicated that there was a nexus between hard drugs and insurgency.

He stressed that the recent clash between drug dealers and the military leading to loss of lives in Barka Da Zuwa, a known black spot in the metropolis has now necessitated a synergy among law enforcement outfits.

The State Commandant said: “There is a lot of armed personnel from various services that hibernate in that environment and because of that they gather and use drugs.

“Our first attempt to raid the place in 2020 was met with violence, our vehicles were destroyed our officers were injured.

“We have now developed a synergy with the Nigerian Army whereby the GOC supports us with troops during raiding.”

Likewise, the NDLEA has announced its biggest single cocaine seizure from individuals in the past 15 years.

The agency in a statement Saturday noted it made the seizure (26.840 kilograms of cocaine) January 27, 2021, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos.

A top official of the agency said: “During the inward clearance of Ethiopian Airline passengers at the E-arrival hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, a female passenger by name Onyejegbu Ifesinachi Jennifer, (33 years old), who arrived Nigeria from Sao Paulo, Brazil via Addis Ababa, was intercepted by NDLEA operatives.

“As a standard operating procedure, all passengers to and from high-risk countries are always profiled using passengers’ manifest.

“It happened that the above-named suspect was targeted. Consequently, she was taken to NDLEA office at the Airport, where her bags were searched thoroughly, and in the process, whitish powdery substances were found concealed inside 16 pieces of duvet contained in her two travel bags.

The official explained the “field test was conducted on the recovered substances and proved positive to Cocaine and weighed 26.850kilograms.

“The suspect who is a hair stylist and based in Brazil was interviewed and she confessed to have agreed to smuggle the hard drug for the sum of Two Million Naira (N2,000,000) only.”

According to him, “although she refused to disclose the names of her associates but she mentioned that she was asked to hand over the drugs to another person. The street value of this singular seizure is put at over N21 billion.”

It was learnt this is part of a total seizure of N31 billion made by the agency within a week.

Earlier before the seizure, report noted January 25 a red left-over luggage was declared to the NDLEA operatives as a left over at the E- arrival hall after the inward clearance of passengers on Ethiopian airline.

The official stated: “Based on information on the luggage tag, the luggage arrived in Nigeria from Sao Paulo, Brazil, a destination classified as high-risk country going by records and trends of arrest and seizures.

“Subsequently, the bag was transferred to the NDLEA ‘Legal Seat’ being the administrative office at the passenger terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, for detention.

“While this was going on, the NDLEA Commander at the MMIA, Ahmadu Garba received an intelligence report of a purported plan to clear a consignment containing hard drug through the Lagos airport.

“Coincidentally, the details sent matched the bag earlier detained by the operatives at the Lagos airport.

“In a coordinated operation, on January 27, 2021, an NDLEA undercover agent was contacted by one Abubakar Aliyu.”

He said: “Guided by the operation and investigation unit, the undercover agent successfully lured the said Abubakar Aliyu into the cargo terminal of the airport where he was arrested.

“The suspect revealed to NDLEA operatives that another person was on his way to receive the bag based of the instruction of his sender whose name he gave to be Ikechukwu Eze.

“Shortly after, one Emmanuel Iyke Aniebonam, who was to receive the bag was also arrested at NAHCO.

“During a preliminary interview by a team of investigators, Emmanuel confessed that he was instructed by certain Ikechukwu to receive the consignment.”

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