Marwa: NDLEA recorded 2,346 convictions in 2022 — highest in agency’s history

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Buba Marwa, the chairperson of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), says the agency secured its highest number of convictions within one year in 2022.

He said this on Wednesday at a media briefing to mark his second anniversary in office.

He warned that unrepentant drug barons and cartels will face tougher times in 2023 if they fail to back out of the illicit drug business.

“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,” he said.

“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. With our prosecution being topnotch, they can look forward to a long time in prison and final forfeiture of their wealth and assets.

“Those involved in the illicit drug trade should take a cue from our actions. They can again look forward to a tough time this year. 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.

“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.

“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 NDLEA. This is not happenchance but a result of professionalism, determination, commitment and hard work of our officers, men and women.”

Marwa further said the agency is reducing the illicit drug demand in the country and hopes to sustain the offensive on blocking drug pipelines from other countries into Nigeria.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

He added that the agency remains committed to making Nigeria safe from illicit substances.

“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,” he said.

“The anticipated amendment of the NDLEA Act will be this year and that will strengthen the arm of our 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.”

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