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Nigeria’s Drug Crisis Hits N500b Worth Of Seizures Yearly




With the street value of seized drugs exceeding half a billion naira in 12 months, and more than two-third going undetected, Nigeria is clearly in a drug dungeon. BERTRAM NWANNEKANMA reports that the country is walking a tightrope of national drug addiction and terrible damage, without declaring an emergency on illicit drugs, and marshalling a collective effort to strengthen the war against drug cartels, traffickers, and ignorant users.  

Nigeria is fast becoming a home to retailers of illicit drugs. Domestic use of those substances among a few has a long history. But that has since changed.
Now, across streets of major cities are free buyers and sellers of myriads of illicit drugs and psychoactive substances. Some are ridiculously cheaper than an average soft drink, readily available to all comers, popular among the youths, and sometimes used as bait for the uninitiated.
The substances range from Diazepam, Rohypnol, marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, colorado, codeine, opioids, tramadol, their synthetic variants, and other psychotropic substances. Street names for the drugs appear in different pseudonyms like molly or X, roofies, banku, white, Thailand, Ice, schoolboy/little C, upper speed, special k, Acid, loud, Arizona, Gegemu, Eskay, kush, skushies among others.
But not far-fetched from the retailers are the supply chain occupied by drug barons, cartels, and traffickers with footprints nationwide, and on traditional international drug routes.
Already, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) that has lately found its mojo, seized over 1.4 million worth of drugs in 2022. And in the last one year, the street value of drugs seized is in excess of N500 billion, with Ikorodu suburb of Lagos alone accounting for N200 billion worth of captured illicit substances.
Besides the revamped efforts of the NDLEA, stakeholders are unanimous that the war against drugs must be intentional, retooled, and all embracing, if the country must pull back from the looming national drug addiction.
A harvest of arrests
Security agencies recently arrested a 34-year-old South American from Suriname, Dadda Lorenzo Harvy Albert, at Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Rivers State, for importing into Nigeria, 117 parcels of cocaine concealed in extra-large latex condoms factory packed inside bottles of 100ml body spray.

The suspect claimed he departed his country, Suriname, located in the North Eastern coast of South America on April 2, for São Paulo, Brazil, and from Sao Paulo to Nigeria on Friday, April 7, 2023 on board Qatar Airways flight in search of his long-lost Nigerian father, whom he called ‘Omini’.
About the same time, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) officers at Tincan seaport in Lagos intercepted 110 parcels of Colorado; a strain of Cannabis sativa, weighing 55kg, hidden in a container marked MSCU 4972769 from Toronto via Montreal, Canada.
The illicit consignment was discovered in the container, bearing five units of used vehicles, during a joint examination of the cargo by NDLEA and other port stakeholders.
The seizure was part of a total of 1,559.3 kilogrammes (1.5 tonnes) of the psychoactive substance seized during interdiction operations in five states. Also, two suspects, Nura Ibrahim, 40, and Habibu Sadiq, 38, were arrested with 120 blocks of Cannabis sativa weighing 148.7kg along Zaria-Kano road, Kano on Sunday, April 2, not less than 418.5kg of the same substance and a sienna space bus used in conveying it were recovered on Thursday, April 6, at a notorious drug hub, Patey, Lagos Island.
A suspect, Azi Solomon was arrested the same day at Ojota garage while attempting to move 23kg Cannabis sativa to another state. Similarly, two suspects: Abubakar Abdulahi and Stanley Tobias were arrested with 108,000 tablets of tramadol at Oyingbo motor park in Lagos Mainland.
In Imo, NDLEA operatives on routine patrol along Owerri-Onitsha Expressway intercepted a commercial bus from which a total of 37, 210 pills of opioids and 30 bottles of codeine syrup were recovered and three suspects arrested in follow up operations.
A total of 40.9kg Cannabis sativa was sized from two suspects: Haruna Adamu, 32, and Salisu Ibrahim, 30, in parts of Taraba, just as 502, 840 pills of tramadol and exol-5 were recovered from a suspect, Imrana Aliyu in Wukari on Thursday, April 6, while 205.6kg was recovered from the home of a fleeing suspect in Gida Dubu area of Bauchi metropolis. The Sokoto State Command of the Agency also received 667.6kg Cannabis sativa seized by men of the Customs Service along the Illela-Niger Republic border.
Security operatives talk tough
Chairman and Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (Retd), said the agency secured its highest number of convictions within one year in 2020. 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.
He said: “Last year, I issued a New Year appeal to them, and also warned that those who refused to heed the warning would find themselves in a difficult situation.    

“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 a coincidence. But a result of professionalism, determination, commitment and hard work of our officers, men and women.”
Drug still having a filled day
DESPITE clampdown on drug trafficking and drug-related crimes, drug problems in the country have continued to worsen by the day.  The flood of heroin from Asia, cocaine from South America, cannabis from North Africa and synthetic drugs from European bases has remained unstoppable.
On a weekly basis, Nigeria media is awash with news of people arrested over one drug-related case or the other by the NDLEA. This is more alarming, as data from the NDLEA, in the last 15 months, show that the agency has intercepted over 1,265,286.16 million kilogrammes of illicit drugs of different kinds.
According to data obtained from the agency’s Directorate of Planning Research and Statistics, while 1,197,165.89 kilogrammes of illicit drugs were seized in 2022, another 68,120.27 kilogrammes of illicit drugs were intercepted in the first quarter of 2023, spanning from January to March 2023.
Also, 1,407,369.34 kilogrammes of Cannabis farms were destroyed within the time under review, with 2022 accounting for 1,365,134.40 kilogrammes, while 42,234.941 hectares of Cannabis farms were destroyed in the first quarter of 2023.

Of this number, cannabis sativa accounted for 691,884.60 kilogrammes of seizures in 2023, while January accounted for 35,158.86kg, February 20,364.28kg and March 12,597.14 kg.

In the first quarter of 2023, the agency recorded 27,5019 kilogrammes of heroin seizures, 103,4153 kg cocaine, 36,229.59 kg of cannabis sativa seizure, 807.95 kg of Methamphetamine seizure, 10,324.25 kilogrammes of tramadol seizure, 261.1219 kilogrammes of Rohypnol seizures, 14,327.8kilogrammes of codeine seizures, 626.0172 kilogrammes of Diazepam seizures and 5,412.633 kilogrammes of other psychotropics seizures.

A breakdown of the data provided by the agency showed that a total of 14,152 suspects were arrested in 2022, while 9,291 people, made up of 8,525 male and 766 female were involved in drug demand reduction.

IN Kano, nine tonnes of illicit drugs worth N1.5 billion was seized in 2022, while
1,078 suspects were arrested.
The NDLEA State Commander, Abubakar Idris-Ahmad, said in an effort to curtail the menace of drug abuse, the Command was able to raid 82 hot spots within and outside Kano Metropolis, and a lot of arrest and seizures of different illicit drugs were made.
“As a result 1,078 suspects were arrested, which include 951 males and 127 females.
“The total drugs seized within the period under review was 8,386.733kg, made up of 6,607.492kgs of cannabis sativa, 1,778.388kg of psychotropic substances, 451grammes cocaine, 125 grammes of heroin and 277 grammes of methamphetamine.
“Within the period under review the agency had secured 113 convictions, destroyed five cannabis farms in the state and rehabilitated over 1,844 drug abusers.”
“The agency sensitised 150 schools on drug prevention, screened 141 traditional title holders on drugs and 164 Visa clearance secured approval under the period review,” Idris-Ahmad said.

ALSO, Oyo State Command of NDLEA, early in the year, seized 235.89 kilogrammes of illicit drugs and arrested 56 suspects in Oyo.The suspects, comprising 49 males and seven females within the age range of 16 and 60 years, for various drug offences, which include, dealing in Cannabis sativa, tramadol, Diazepam, Rohypnol, Colorado, codeine and other psychotropic substances in the first quarter of the year.
The Command also recorded the seizure of 235.89kg of Cannabis sativa, including other narcotic and psychotropic substances during the period under review.
Spokesperson for the Command, Mutiat Okuwobi, said 18 suspects were convicted for various drug offences with jail terms, ranging from six months to 10 years imprisonment, within the same period. Also, the Command counselled 21 persons, who use drugs (PWUD), while seven persons were rehabilitated and reintegrated into the society.

Beyond the name and shame strategy
THE Guardian checks revealed that while the local drug scene is becoming more aggressive and expansionist in grabbing new markets, the international drugs cartels are arming their local agents with ever changing distribution patterns and with increasing skill in concealment and in handling the money from their sales.
However, many Nigerians, who have been following the trend, believed that with the weekly publication of arrests and seizures of substances running into several billions of dollars by the agency, it is rather worrisome that the figure is not coming down. Is it that the agency is not winning the war or that more and more Nigerians are braving the odd to peddle drugs?
According to Onwubiko, “NDLEA under General Marwa has attained global acclaim and generally bothered the international community and the good people of Nigeria have acknowledged that the current leadership of NDLEA is about the best in the history of NDLEA.
“Setting up rehabilitation centres, call centres all across Nigeria is key to finding a lasting solution to the unprecedented rate of addictions to drugs by a lot of Nigerians. There has to be a synergy as it were between the NDLEA and other sister agencies like NAFDAC and the private sector to create an enabling environment for the massive setting up of rehab centres that wouldn’t cost families of the addicts so much in the care and rehabilitation of addicts. Schools, religious places of worship, patriots, and media should all provide support to NDLEA because the campaign to minimise addictions is a collection of time tasks.
“Because of profitability. Usually, prohibited businesses are very profitable because there is no perfect competition since only the brave get involved in the business. Hard drugs intake cut across all statuses and classifications.
“Hard drugs are items that fascinate the rich, the poor and the not so rich and so the turnover is very high. Secondly, in the past, NDLEA was not administered professionally like we see it now under the current dispensation, and so due to the existence of many loose ends at the levels of enforcement mechanisms of the law against the crime of hard drugs, you then find that Nigerians, who embraced the criminal enterprise are not giving up. “

Also, Founder/ Executive Director Global Initiative on Substance Abuse (GISA), Dr. Martin Agwogie, said there are two sides to it, the good and the bad side.
According to her, the good side is that such quantities of drugs or substances, which would have been consumed by citizens of Nigeria, have been removed from circulation.
“That is good news. On the other side, it means that people are still profiteering from the illicit drug trade, which means there are still many illicit drugs in circulation.
“It is not about whether NDLEA is winning the war or not but whether Nigeria is winning the fight against drug abuse and illicit trafficking or not. Yes, NDLEA is the lead agency for drug control in Nigeria but it is the responsibility of everyone. Therefore, the question to ask is, are we winning the drug control efforts in our families, in our communities and neighbourhoods?
“The answer to this question will tell you whether or not Nigeria is making progress in her drug control efforts. There is the need to invest more in prevention. When I say prevention, I mean evidence-based prevention beyond sensitisation and one off activities. Until we begin to focus more attention on addressing the risk factors for drug use, the burden will continue to steer at us as a nation.
“Traffickers are not giving up because it is a lucrative business to them, there are ready markets for their supplies. It is a matter of demand and supply. Also, because of some inherent weaknesses in our criminal justice system, some drug traffickers get away with their criminal activities without commensurate penalties. This also emboldened the drug traffickers. However, these should not be a justification for people to be involved in illicit drug dealings because not everyone will get away with it.
“Moreover, everyone suffers, directly or indirectly, from the consequences of drug abuse in the society, including the dealers or traffickers. Some have advocated for stiffer penalties for illicit drug dealings as a solution. Beyond that, we cannot arrest and prosecute our ways out of the drug scourge without complementary strategies. That is the reason we must invest more in the area of prevention. Where the demand is low, it will reduce the margin of profit thereby discouraging the illicit drug trade.”
Meanwhile, Marwa has called for an amendment of the Agency’s Act to further boost the country’s fight against substance abuse, and illicit drug trafficking.

Marwa, who stated this at the NDLEA Special Purpose Committee conference (SPC) in Abuja, disclosed that some of the details of the new bill, which is in its final stage of being passed, will strengthen the hand of the Agency and discourage trafficking of illicit substances because of the stringent punitive measures stipulated for drug offences.
While appreciating the SPC members, who are experts in relevant fields that constitute an advisory group to support the work of the Agency across the country for their contributions to the achievements of NDLEA under his leadership, Marwa said the time is now for well-spirited Nigerians to join the fight against the drug scourge, which though may not be in every family, but affects every community.
He said: “Let me state from the onset that contrary to a recent report that the drug abuse problem is in every household in Nigeria, I’ll like to correct that misrepresentation and state that there are indeed families not afflicted by this menace.
“However, that we can’t say of the communities. It is almost certain that every community has this problem. That said, I would like to assure that the NDLEA Act is presently in its final stage of its amendment at the National Assembly. It’s a private bill sponsored by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, Senator Hezekiah Dimka and it will among other things remove the option of fine in the sentencing of offenders as well as make punishments for drug offences more stringent.”
Marwa added that President Muhammadu Buhari understands the drug problem very well and has as part of his continuous support approved the recruitment of additional 5,000 officers and men to further strengthen the Agency.

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Anambra Govt. Arrests Two Fake Doctors, Shuts Down Hospitals



The Anambra state government has arrested two fake medical doctors and sealed off their health facilities at Alor in Idemili South Local Government Area and Adazi-Enu in Anaocha Local Government Area of the state.

Dr Afam Obidike, the state’s commissioner for health, accompanied by some security operatives and members of the Anambra Joint Enforcement Team (ANJET), raided the areas on Friday night and arrested the suspects.

Speaking to newsmen on Saturday, the commissioner identified the suspects as Anayo Okwara, owner of Bright Land Hospital and Maternity Ltd in Alor and Igwe Ogbonna, owner of Favour of God Hospital and Maternity, Adazi-Enu.

He said that the suspects were operating the hospitals illegally in the state.

“Following investigation, it was discovered that Ogbonna is not even a medical doctor and does not have any medical knowledge.

“He also used his hospital as a nursing school, where students pay as much as N70,000 to N100,000 to study nursing. Some of the student nurses we met at the facility confirmed this.

“On Okwara, the second suspect, the president-general of Alor community, Chief Emmanuel Ojukwu, wrote to the ministry complaining about incessant deaths recorded at Bright Land Hospital.

“Okwara, first claimed that he was a homeopathic doctor, but later admitted that his medical certificates and license were forged when he was being questioned,” he said.

Mr Obidike said that five illegal health facilities had been shut down so far, saying that Gov. Chukwuma Soludo’s administration would not relent in its effort to flush out fake doctors operating across the state.

He said that the objective of the exercise was not to witch-hunt anyone but to ensure standards both in government and private hospitals in the state.

“It is unfortunate that death is an irreversible course and I do not understand why people who are not medical practitioners will continue to waste people’s lives because of greed and quest to make money through illegal means.

“We are sending out this warning to those operating illegally and parading themselves as medical doctors to close down their hospitals or face the full wrath of the law.

“Anambra is not a place for quacks to practice,” he said.

The commissioner thanked the community leaders and vigilante groups for the tip-off and urged residents to be vigilant and report such illegality in their areas.

He commended Mr Soludo for giving them the necessary support to execute the raid.

Mr Obidike said that the suspects would be charged to court.

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Abia LP Commends NLC For Calling Off Strike



The Abia State Chapter of the Labour Party, led by Ceekay Igara, on Sunday, commended the organised labour in the state for showing solidarity with the incoming government of Alex Otti by calling off her two-week old strike.

Igara, in a statement signed by Njoku Jerry Ajike, the state publicity secretary of the party, said it was a sign of the great change that is about to happen among the Abia state workforce.

He stated, “We, as the political arm of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress, consider this decision to call off the strike by the leadership of the TUC and NLC as a great act of patriotism and evidence of loyalty and support to the incoming Labour Party-led government of Dr Alex Otti.”

He explained that the leadership of the Congress arrived at the decision on May 27 after visiting the governor-elect, Alex Otti, at his residence.

“The incoming Executive Governor of Abia State, Dr. Alex Otti, had reassured the workers of his commitment to improving workers’ welfare without wavering,” the party assured Abians.

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Rivers Police Seal Ex- Lawmaker’s  Hotel, Entertainment Centre




Two entertainment centres, the CSKR Hotels and Priscy’s Bar and Suites both in Elekahia, Port Harcourt, Rivers State were early on Monday morning sealed by armed policemen.

Staff and lodgers at the two sealed facilities were forcefully ordered out of the premises by the security operatives who stormed there in a commando style.

The businesses are owned by a former member of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Jones Ogbonda.

Ogbonda is said to be a staunch supporter of the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar.

It was gathered that the heavily armed operatives, all dressed in black, are said to be from the C4i Intelligence unit of the state police command.

Our correspondent who visited one of the sealed premises (Priscy’s Bar and Suites) at about 6:55 am on Monday reports that heavily armed, stern-looking policemen occupied the entrance, while two white Hilux patrol vans were stationed there.

In a voice note sent to our correspondent, Ogbonda confirmed the incident, saying the managers of the facilities put calls across to him in the wee hours of Monday to break the news.

He stated,” On the early hours of 29th May 2023 at about 2:55 am, my phone rand and my manager informed me that men of the C4i tactical team of the Nigeria Police Force in about five patrol vans drive into the premises of  Priscy’s Bar and suites in Elekahia.

“They ordered guests in the rooms, customers in the club and staff in the outer bar out, that they have orders from the governor to seal the place.

“As I speak, they are still occupying the premises.

“I also received a call from the manager of CSKR hotels at Elekahia Housing Estate to the effect that men of the C4i of the Nigeria Police were at the hotel searching from room to room, ordering guests and staff out of the premises.

“That they have taken occupation under the orders of His Excellency. This is sad.”

Our correspondent reports that on 19th August 2022,  the Priscy’s Bar and Suites was sealed and some staff and customers were arrested and detained by security operatives.

The bar was sealed off for 11 days before it was allowed to reopen.

When contacted, the spokesperson of the State Police Command, Grace Iringe-Koko, said she will contact the Elekahia Police Division and get back to our reporter.

She has yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.


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