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15 drug kingpins convicted in 2023 – NDLEA chairman

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The Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, (retd.) Brig-Gen. Buba Marwa, has revealed that at least 15 drug kingpins out of 3,412 drug offenders that were successfully prosecuted by the anti-narcotics agency, and convicted in 2023, collectively bagged 168 years imprisonment.

He disclosed this on Wednesday while addressing commanders and officers of the agency during an awards and commendations ceremony at the NDLEA national headquarters in Abuja.

A total of 104 personnel and 13 state commands that had outstanding performances in the second half of 2023 were recognised and rewarded during the ceremony.

Marwa said, “Indeed, our performance as individuals and collectively could always be better. However, we must appreciate every effort made to help sustain the momentum of our upward trajectory since January 2021 when we launched the renewed fight against illicit substance trafficking.

“According to our statistics, we recorded 13,664 arrests leading to the seizure of 1,606,799.09Kg  of assorted illicit drugs and 3,412 convictions with a total of 5,570 offenders charged to court in 2023.

“It is indeed a year that at least 15 drug kingpins bagged 168 years of imprisonment collectively.

“That is a substantial improvement over our performance in 2022. Notably, in 2023, we also ramped up our enforcement action against cannabis farms and carried out at least seven successful major operations, leading to the discovery and destruction of over 206 hectares of cannabis plantations.”

He also noted that the frequency and intensity of NDLEA advocacy throughout 2023 improved considerably, adding that zonal and state commands have been very dedicated to propagating the War Against Drug Abuse advocacy.

He added, “As a result, a total of 2,725 sensitisation lectures and programmes were held in schools, worship centres, workplaces and communities among others. A breakdown of the WADA lectures held in 2023 shows: 807 in primary/secondary schools; 146 in tertiary institutions; 488 for out-of-school children; 264 in worship centres.

“140 in military/paramilitary organisations; 90 in other workplaces, among others. Just as well, our commands and formations have coped with the increased workload of counselling activities leading to the counselling and rehabilitation of 10, 904 drug users.”

He noted that those who have been in the agency longer than 2021 can attest to the fact that the past three years have brought different dynamics to the operations and performance of the NDLEA.

“This is further reinforced by the content of a letter two weeks ago from the National Assembly conveying the decision of the national parliament to commend the efforts of the NDLEA in the fight against illicit drug consumption and trafficking.

“This recognition by both chambers of the National Assembly should serve as a further morale booster and a reminder that your efforts are not going unnoticed.

“I must also say that the NDLEA management has no misgivings about instituting the Commands Awards and Commendations. This twice-a-year event, though a reward system, serves as an inward-looking glass for critical self-analysis and therefore a mechanism that puts the agency on its toes. Each time we gather here to honour exemplary officers and commands, we are making a loud statement that we value meritocracy and that hard work is a virtue we hold in high esteem. We are trying to normalise good performance”, he added.

He further noted that “all the issues we are working on will soon come to fruition in a matter of time. For instance, we fought hard to have an amended NDLEA Act last year. Today, the bill is at the 10th National Assembly receiving due attention, and we are optimistic that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. I am also pleased to inform you that our barracks projects have recorded progress. Before the middle of the year, some of our barracks will be ready for commissioning. These few examples of the efforts going on behind the scenes are evidence that we are working in your best interest.”

He also warned operatives of the agency against infractions.

He added, “We don’t take infractions lightly. Every officer of NDLEA is expected to work within the ambit of our core values and strictly adhere to our standard operating procedure. We expect our officers to be the epitome of service, selflessness and sacrifice.

“As an institution, we thank the European Union and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, for being helpful partners on this journey. We appreciate the support of our other international partners from the US, UK, France, Germany, and India among others.

“We also appreciate sister agencies and security organisations, including the Nigerian Army, Navy, Air Force, Customs, Immigration, Police, DSS, NSCDC, NAFDAC, NYSC and FRSC, for the synergy that makes our job easy. Our profound gratitude also goes to the Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, the House of Representatives Committee on Narcotic Drugs, and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. Importantly, we thank His Excellency President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his encouragement and immense support to NDLEA.”

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