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Friday, December 2, 2022

The Ikorodu Drug Warehouse

OPERATIVES of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) recently busted a warehouse in Ikorodu area of Lagos where 1.8 tonnes (1,855 kilogrammes) of cocaine worth more than $278, 250,000 equivalent of about N194.7 billion were seized, a move that appears to be the biggest singular seizure of the illicit substance in the history of the federal anti-narcotic agency.

 THE agency also  arrested another billionaire  drug baron, Ugechuckwu  Nsofur Chukwukadibia  in VGC,  Lagos and recoveredN8.8 billion worth of  tramadol from his mansion. Usochukwu is the chairman of  Autonation  Motors Ltd.

MORE than four drug lords, including a Jamaican and the warehouse manager were picked in the well-coordinated and intelligence-led operation that lasted two days across different locations in Lagos. According to the NDLEA statement, Kingpins of the cocaine cartel in custody include; Soji Jibril, 69, an indigene of Ibadan, Oyo State; Emmanuel Chukwu, from Ekwulobia, Anambra State; Wasiu Akinade, from Ibadan,  Oyo State; Sunday Oguntelure from Okitipupa, Ondo State and Kelvin Smith, from Kingston, Jamaica. They are all members of an international drug syndicate that the agency has been trailing since 2018.

THE weird storage at 6, Olukuola Crescent, Solebo Estate, Ikorodu, was raided on Sunday, while the barons were picked from hotels and their hideouts in different parts of Lagos between Sunday night and Monday. Preliminary investigation revealed the class A drugs were warehoused in a residential estate from where the cartel was trying to sell them to buyers in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world. They were stored in 10 travel bags and 13 drums.

WHILE  commanding  the officers and men of the Agency involved in the extensive investigation including those of the American Drug Enforcement Administration, (US-DEA), Chairman and Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig-Gen Mohamed Buba Marwa (Rtd), described the exploit as a historical blow to the drug cartels and a strong warning that they would all meet their waterloo if they continue to perpetrate the crime.

THE Hope commends the gallant officers of the NDLEA, including the head of the agency, Brig. General Marwa (Rtd.) for this great exploit which is a continuation of the good works that had been going on in the agency since Marwa took over the leadership. For example, according to a recent media report, the NDLEA has arrested about 18, 940 drug traffickers in the last 18 months, out of which 3,359 arrests were made and 65,915.891 kilograms of assorted drugs seized between January and March 2022. At least 677 offenders were also convicted and sentenced within the same period.

WHILE  commending the Marwa-led agency for a job well done, The Hope equally notes that such huge  rate of drug trafficking does not put Nigeria in a good light and is responsible for the high rate of insecurity in Nigeria. For instance,  Nigeria has the unenviable profile of being a leading drug trafficking hub in Africa and other countries with about 10.6 million cannabis users in 2018. Similarly, Nigeria’s drug use prevalence, as of 2018, was 14.4 percent, which is almost three times the global average of 5.6 per cent. More worrisome is the  involvement  of security personnel who are paid to disallow the drug trade actively aiding its trafficking. A classic example is the embattled former Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Abba  Kyari, who is currently facing charges after he was arrested in a sting operation by the NDLEA.

THE Hope notes that this sad trend may put Nigeria in the same category with countries like Brazil and Mexico that are notorious for high level drug trafficking and its attendant humongous crime rate. It may also indicate that Nigeria has moved from being a transit point to a major hub for the illicit business in the world. It is no exaggeration to say that if left unchecked, this magnitude of drug trafficking will worsen the spate of insecurity in Nigeria, as criminals have in the past been associated with high rate of drug consumption.

AS  a way out, we recommend that  our political leaders must show strong will and determination to fight drug peddling. They must also be ready to ensure that there are no sacred cows. Instead, all perpetrators should be punished without any form of bias. We support the position  canvassed by the agency that there should be drug integrity tests for security agencies, drivers, students, politicians and parents.

THE Hope also notes that the society and the media have a lot of roles to play towards the eradication of drug abuse in Nigeria. The media should cooperate with the government by embarking on aggressive sensitisation and campaign against drug trafficking.. Similarly, the NDLEA should go after all collaborators and sponsors of drug business and ensure that they are brought to book. The recently launched War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) by President Muhammed Buhari should be embraced, supported and vigorously pursued by government at all levels in the country.

 WE encourage members of the public to  provide useful information to government agencies to help flush out drug lords and unravel more drug cartels. As the saying goes, “If you see something,

say something.”    

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