Crime Guard

December 19, 2021

‘JIHAD DRUG’: 10 suppliers of narcotics to bandits, terrorists intercepted

‘JIHAD DRUG’: 10 suppliers of narcotics to bandits, terrorists intercepted

By Kennedy Mbele

“We have ample empirical evidence: The camps of Boko Haram cleared by troops are found to be littered with psychotropic drugs. Insurgents and bandits arrested often show withdrawal symptoms after days in custody of law enforcement agents. During interrogation, arrested insurgents have confessed to regular use of drugs and a few were captured with drugs, including pharmaceutical opioids”.

With these words, Mr Femi Babafemi, Director, Media and Advocacy, Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), says many of the bandits terrorizing the North-West and Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists operating in the North-East may have been acting under the influence of hard drugs, detailing what the NDLEA is doing to stem the tide. He also speaks on ‘Jihad drug’ believed to be frequently used by bandits and terrorists.

Excerpts:

How many arrests have been made this year and the volume of drugs involved?

As of November 30, 2021, NDLEA has recorded 11, 341 arrests, including six major barons. So far, the Agency has successfully secured 1, 111 convictions within the same time, while over 3, 000 other cases are still going on in the courts and we are confident that they would also end in successful prosecution because of our high conviction rate, which is over 90 per cent.

Within the same time frame, NDLEA recorded a seizure of over 3.3 million kilograms of assorted drugs.

What is the street value of the drugs recovered?

The street value of the drugs and cash recovered is well over N120 billion. Among the most spectacular recoveries is the shipment of cocaine that came from Brazil like the January 27 interception of a suspect with 26.85 kg of cocaine worth billions of naira and the vessel MV Sar Scorpio that came to Lagos Tin Can Port with 43.11kg of cocaine also worth billions of naira.

Which drugs topped recoveries?

Cannabis, Tramadol and cocaine.

What is the destination of most couriers?

If you look at the pattern from the various interdictions, it confirmed that Nigeria is still being used by transnational criminal organisations as a transit country, with cocaine coming from South America and heroin from Middle East countries and Europe as the destination.

Overwhelmingly, most human couriers that attempted to travel out of the country were heading towards Europe.

Only a handful was going anywhere else. Conversely, those who attempted to bring in illicit substances are mostly coming from South America (mostly Brazil) and a few countries in the Middle East and Europe. However, the pattern also shows intra-country trafficking which means that there is a lot of consumption going on within the country.

What is the link between drugs and worsening insecurity?

The link between illicit drugs and violent crime is well established from several case studies over time.

The abuse of psychoactive substances is linked to conflicts. That is how illicit drugs and psychotropic substances have come to acquire notoriety as enablers of crime, conflicts and crises.

And the pattern recurs in most civil strife around the world, like most recently, in Syria and the cycle of violence that drug cartels unleash on Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela.

Generally, drugs are an enabler of crime, and where abuse, trade and trafficking of such are allowed to go on unrestrained, you can expect a descent into chaos and crisis in such society.

How deep are bandits, ISWAP/Boko Haram fighters into drugs and how do they get supply?

We have ample empirical evidence: The camps of Boko Haram cleared by troops are found to be littered with psychotropic drugs. Insurgents and bandits arrested often show withdrawal symptoms after days in custody of law enforcement agents.

During interrogation, arrested insurgents have confessed to regular use of drugs and a few were captured with drugs, including pharmaceutical opioids.

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NDLEA has intercepted shipments of illicit drugs going to the camps of bandits and Boko Haram, including a shipment of Captagon, nicknamed ‘Jihad drug’, predominantly produced around Syria, which was imported into the country from Lebanon, concealed in marble polishing machines.

Between January and November, we have intercepted no less than 10 traffickers who supplied controlled drugs and other illicit substances to bandits and insurgents. We published their arrests and the various interdictions.

What are you doing to stem the tide?

We have embarked on a ramped-up drug supply reduction activity with the launch of Offensive Action in January 2021. Thus far, the campaign has been yielding results. Aside from our commands carrying out non-stop raids across the country, we have increased our presence and vigilance at the airports, seaports and land borders.

More importantly, we have transformed into an intelligence-based Agency and our eyes are everywhere as we work round the clock.

We don’t wait for traffickers to come to us. We go after them as we daily process the troves of intelligence at our disposal which put us in a vantage position to be proactive in our action, to monitor and make interdiction at a time of our choosing when we can make maximum arrests (including of the financiers and leadership of the trafficking cartel) and get prima facie evidence that will give us successful prosecution in court.

We have also intensified our advocacy programmes in partnership with a spectrum of other stakeholders to mobilise the entire citizenry to buy in and take ownership of the war against drug abuse, WADA, launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in June this year.

Between January and end of November, we have counseled and rehabilitated 7,066 drug users in our facilities alone. So, we’re making impact in the area of drug demand reduction as much as we’re making in drug supply reduction.

What’s the update on drug issue in South-East?

Our state commands across the South-East have spent the last few weeks working round the clock and soon will be implementing a strategy devised by the leadership that will result in the crackdown on the purveyors of these illicit drugs, with the aim to dismantle clandestine laboratories and the syndicate behind the production of methamphetamine in the region.

We have had spectacular success in the past against meth-producing laboratories. The public can look forward to positive development in the days ahead.

Update on advocacy across the country

Our principal advocacy vehicle is the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) campaign, launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 26, 2021. The Chairman and Chief Executive of the Agency, Gen Marwa (Retd) has been going around the country to interface with political, religious and traditional leaders, communities, groups and associations across the states.

So far, we have covered Lagos, Rivers, Kogi, Ogun, Kano, Plateau and Adamawa. We are working for the rollout of the State Drug Committees and Local Drug Committees (components of WADA) across the 36 states of the federation, which will enable us to create interconnectivity of advocacy units that reach down to the grassroots. Subsequently, there will be a rise in the tempo of our advocacy efforts in the next few months.

At the same time, the Chairman has also paid advocacy visits to relevant authorities such as his recent visit to the military chiefs and heads of MDAs. All of these are in preparation for the massive advocacy campaign planned for 2022.

Any other information you might deem necessary to give us

We have scaled our workforce in 2021 with the recruitment of 5, 000 new officers, trained at the NDLEA Academy, Kotton Rikus, Jos. Hence, the public can expect greater visibility and increased efficiency from NDLEA in 2022.

At the same time, we are scaling up our Drug Demand Reduction activities with eyes on achieving a balance in our drug policy especially with the recent launch of the National Drug Control Master Plan (NDCMP 2021-2025).

This year, 7,066 drug users have been counseled and rehabilitated (January-November) in NDLEA facilities.

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