THE National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) arrested 8,561 drug traffickers between January and August 2023.
The anti-drug trafficking agency also seized 888,743 drugs and secured 2,224 convictions.
These figures were contained in data exclusively obtained by The ICIR from the spokesperson of the NDLEA, Femi Babafemi.
According to the data, 1,985 males and 239 females were convicted.
The NDLEA in December 2022 said it arrested 23,907 traffickers and seized drugs worth over N450 billion within 22 months.
According to the NDLEA, the arrest and seizure took place between January 2021 to October 2022
NDLEA chairman Mohammed Buba Marwa disclosed these details in Abuja on Tuesday, December 20, 2022.
“Within the period under review, the agency arrested 23,907 drug traffickers, including 29 barons. Our seizure was over 5,500 tons or 5.5 million kilograms of assorted illicit drugs, which together with cash seized are worth over N450 billion,” Marwa said.
He added that the agency also destroyed 772.5 hectares of cannabis farms within the period.
Marwa said in these 22 months, NDLEA recorded convictions of 3,434 offenders and rehabilitated 16,114.
In other data from the agency, from January to October 2022, the NDLEA arrested 891 women for drug trafficking and related crimes.
This number is far too low compared to the 11,710 males arrested within the same period.
NDLEA expressed concern over drug use among women.
According to the NDLEA, the latest records on drug use show that one in four drug abusers in the country is a woman.
The Ogun State Commander of the NDLEA, Ibiba Odili, stated this during the War Against Drug Abuse launch in collaboration with Lions Club International in Abeokuta.
The official revealed that 14.3 million Nigerian drug abusers are 15 to 64 years old, adding that more women are now involved.
“One out of every four drug users is a woman. In 2018, data shows that more women are going into drug use. If more women are going into drug use, it is a source of worry for us because it means that the traditional role of women in families and communities as caregivers, role models, and life moulders will be threatened because what quality of children are these women going to raise,?” she said.
Some arrests made by the NDLEA in 2023
On May 16, operatives of the NDLEA confiscated a substantial shipment of methamphetamine at the export shed of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Ikeja Lagos.
The illicit substance was concealed within powdered custard containers, forming part of a combined cargo destined for London, United Kingdom (UK).
Operatives at the airport detected and seized the illicit drug consignment weighing 30.10 kilograms with a street value of N567 million.
NDLEA operatives in Adamawa on Monday, May 15, also arrested a 32-year-old notorious drug dealer, Ikechukwu Uzoma, in the Mubi area of the state with 1kg of skunk.
In the same vein, a trans-border trafficker, Faisal Mohammed, 27, was on Wednesday, May 17, arrested in Mubi following the interception of a truck from Onitsha, Anambra State, where a total of 2,376 sachets of tramadol comprising 23,760 pills were found concealed in three blue rubber jerrycans which were hidden underneath the body part of the trailer.
In June, agents of the NDLEA arrested two Qatar-based drug kingpins, Eyah Celestine Nnamdi, alias Murphy, and Peter Oluchukwu Ugwuoke, following the interception of their methamphetamine consignment at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos.
The agency said it arrested Ugwuoke on June 9 during the outward clearance of Qatar Airways passengers at the departure point, Terminal 2 of the Lagos airport.
The NDLEA said the suspect was travelling to Doha with an Ivorian international passport with the name Hien Narcisse when scrutiny of his black carry-on luggage led to the discovery of a false bottom concealment of two parcels of crystalline substance that tested positive for methamphetamine, weighing 1 kg.
Similarly, the agency arrested a female pharmacist, Ikwebe Ori Helen, in Kaduna following her attempt to use forged documents to purchase and distribute six cartons of pentazocine injection with 2,000 ampules.
Operatives of the NDLEA in July intercepted over 64 863.5kg of nitrous oxide, otherwise known as ‘laughing gas’, at the Apapa seaport in Lagos and in Imo State.
A statement by Babafemi on Friday, July 14, stated that the development followed an intelligence-based joint examination by the agency’s operatives and officers of the Nigeria Customs Service.
While searching the two containers, cartons of Nitrous Oxide, containing 16,366 packages weighing 64,852kgs, were recovered along with the paraphernalia for recreational use.
The importer of the consignment, 30-year-old Stephen Eze and his agent, Michael Chukwuma, were arrested and detained for further investigation.”
Similarly, NDLEA operatives on Thursday, July 13, intercepted three cartons containing 18 canisters of the same substance weighing 11.5kg along the Owerri – Onitsha expressway in Imo State.
According to the statement, the suspects arrested with the consignment were heading to Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
In August, operatives of the NDLEA arrested a fake couple and other drug dealers in some parts of the country.
The couple, Ilonzeh Kingsley Onyebuchi and Ilonzeh Roseline Nonyelum, who were purportedly going for medical treatment in India, ingested 184 wraps of cocaine weighing 3.322 kilograms with another 100 grammes of the drug also concealed in the woman’s private part.
The agency said the two suspects were intercepted at Screening Point 1, Terminal 1 of the international wing of the Lagos airport on Tuesday, August 1 2023, while attempting to board an Ethiopian airline flight to India.
NDLEA plans measures to halt illicit drug production
The NDLEA has announced its plan to develop strategies to take drug cartels out of business and protect the environment from the damaging effects of illicit drug cultivation and production.
Marwa stated this while outlining efforts by Nigeria to curb the menace of substance abuse and illicit drug production and trafficking in his presentation at the third committee session of the ongoing 8th United Nations General Assembly, UNGA, in New York, USA, on Monday, October 2.
According to him, cartels involved in illicit drug cultivation were causing deforestation and environmental degradation.
He said this would provide cannabis farmers with better options, like agricultural loans and improved seedlings.
He added that Nigeria was adopting a whole-of-society approach to countering the challenges of drug trafficking in line with the 2030 SDGs agenda, which seeks to promote the rule of law, health, peace, and justice.