News

June 19, 2024

Why we target assets of drug barons, traffickers – NDLEA

Why we target assets of drug barons, traffickers – NDLEA

The Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd) on Wednesday justified the decision of the agency to go after assets of drug barons and traffickers.

Marwa said this at a news briefing in Abuja to begin the week-long activities to commemorate the 2024 International Day Against Drugs and Illicit Trafficking.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that June 26 every year is set aside to commemorate the day.

NAN also reports that the theme of the 2024 World Drug Day (WDD) is: “Evidence is Clear; Let Us Invest in Prevention.”

Represented by Mr Shadrach Haruna, the secretary of the agency, the NDLEA chairman said that the decision was part of an ongoing offensive against illicit drug peddlers and cartels in the industry.

According to him, the offensive against drug cartels and traffickers, inaugurated in January 2021, has, to date, continued to yield the desired result with the arrests and prosecutions of several barons.

He said that in April, two serial traffickers got life imprisonment.

According to him, our prosecution efforts have continued to achieve successes in courts, given the painstaking investigations and diligence in the prosecution of cases.

“Our water-tight case preparations are unassailable. This has been further strengthened with our forfeiture regime with the passage of Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA 2022).

“Aside from conviction, the assets of the convicts used as instrumentality of the crime or the proceeds derived from the crime are forfeited to the Federal Government.

“Indeed, a civil action in rem could be maintained against assets reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime, in which case the burden of proving the lawful origin of the asset will be on the defendant, who claims ownership of the asset.

“This diligent and painstaking preparation of investigations and prosecutions explains the success of the high conviction rate,” he said.

Speaking on the drug demand reduction efforts of the agency, Marwa said that the flagship programme, War Against Drug Abuse (WADA), was built on the whole-of-society approach to preventive action against drug abuse.

He said that the approach had been a tremendous success as an effective tool of advocacy for social action and an awareness-driven vehicle.

This, he said, was for public engagement and collaboration against illicit trafficking and abuse, which aligned with the theme for the 2024 WDD.

He said that the WDD observed on June 26 every year “was an important day for the global community and an occasion during, which current efforts against illicit drug problems were given policy direction for the next 12 months.

Marwa said that the theme emphasised the importance of preventing people from falling into the danger of experimenting with illicit drugs and, subsequently, into the trap of dependence on psychoactive substances.

According to him, prevention is an important aspect of the effort to curb the menace of abuse of illicit drugs in society.

“At NDLEA, prevention, as ably anchored in our War Against Drug Abuse (WADA), social advocacy programme is a priority area for us.

“Within our modest means and with the support of the Federal Government and our various stakeholders, we have invested in prevention by various means over the past three years.

“This is part of the reforms being undertaken in the agency,” he said.

Marwa expressed gratitude to the federal and state governments for the support given to the agency in various ways in the onslaught against drug traffickers.

He acknowledged that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) had been a strong supporter of the agency as well as its foreign partners, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Others, he said, included the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the British Border Force, National Crime Agency (NCA) of United Kingdom, and the Nigerian Armed Forces.

The rest are the Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Immigration, NAFDAC, NFIU, NACA, FRSC, and Civil Defence, among others.

In his remarks, UNODC Country Deputy Representative, Mr Danilo Campisi, called on the government at all levels and other stakeholders in Nigeria to invest in drug use prevention measures.

Campisi said that this would help to avoid a 40 per cent rise in the population of drug users in the country, especially among the youth.

According to him, projections show that by 2030, there will be a 40 per cent increase in the use of drugs in Africa, based on the population of young people.

“This is extremely concerning if we consider that 2030 is only six years away.

“We are all familiar with the saying that prevention is better than cure, and considering the data and projections, it has become even more critical for Nigeria to invest heavily in drug use preventive measures.

“I do not think it will be an exaggeration to describe this as a national emergency.

“If the country is to take on the challenge of this projected increase in drug use, it is imperative that it adopt scientific evidence-based approaches that prioritise prevention and treatment. (NAN)