THE chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mohamed Buba Marwa, has warned that drug barons and cartels would face tougher times in 2023.
Marwa gave the warning on Wednesday, January 18 at a press briefing at the NDLEA national headquarters, Abuja, on his second anniversary of his leadership of the anti-narcotics agency.
Updating the public on the agency’s efforts to rid the country of illicit substance abuse and drug trafficking, the retired general said, “Last year, I issued a New Year appeal to them and also warned that those who refused to heed the warning will 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 top notch, 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.”
He disclosed that the agency had already taken down three major drug cartels in the first two weeks of 2023.
“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 happenchance but a result of professionalism, determination, commitment and hard work of our officers, men and women,” he added.
He described 2022 as an epoch year in drug demand reduction with the establishment and commissioning of the NDLEA drug abuse call centre, which broadened access to treatment and rehabilitation.
He warned citizens to be wary in their dealings with people of questionable wealth, and to anticipate an amendment of the NDLEA Act this year.
Marwa added that the Proceed of Crime Act 2022, enacted last year, gave the agency a new leverage.
He expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and other stakeholders for their support in the total transformation of the agency.
The anti-drug boss also thanked the National Assembly, the Attorney General and the Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, the foreign partners, sister agencies, the media and all those who all had, in one way or the other, been catalysts to the NDLEA productivity in the past two years.