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Commander, Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Mr. Garba Ahmadu receiving a copy of Travellers Watch from Chairman, League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) Olusegun Koiki at the NDLEA office during a courtesy visit

NDLEA seizes 979.667kgs of illicit drugs at MMIA between January-March so far

COMMANDER, Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Mr. Garba Ahmadu has said that between January and March 2021, the command has seized 979.667kgs of illicit drugs with the largest single seizure of cocaine of 26.850kg (over half a bag of rice cocaine worth)

The commander made this known today when he hosted executives of the League of Airports and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC) who paid him a courtesy visit said the size of cocaine confiscated  between January and March is 63.217kg which far exceeds what was seized in the whole of 2020.

According to the commander, the influx of seized drugs especially cocaine may not be unconnected with the lock down last year and the lull in activities as the traffickers could not transport their illicit products but stated that  with international borders opening and demand for the product the cycle has commenced again.

He said that the command has also arrested 14 suspects within the period stipulated.

He said, “Between January 2021 to March, the command has seized 979.667kgs of illicit drugs. These include 63.217kg of cocaine, 0.950grms of heroine, 13.3kg of cannabis sativa and over 500kgs of khat leaves.

“We also arrested 14 suspects within the period. Again, we have been able to secure 14 prosecutions in the court. These are out of the numbers that were taken and successfully prosecuted and get convictions for 12 people.

“I think what I want to stress is that this year, we are able to have the largest single seizure of 26.850kg of cocaine. This is very interesting because it was brought in by a lady. If you look at, this is more than half a bag of rice and if you look at how she did it, she just checked it in as a check-in luggage and passed it through. That is a very serious seizure. I think our officers should be commended for this.”

“We have huge seizure of cocaine this year. This is a little different from what is obtained in previous years. In the first quarter of 2020, we had some huge seizures, but not the same for 2018 and 2019.”

On what the anti-narcotics agency is doing with regards light sentencing of traffickers and repeat offenders, Ahmadu confessed there is little the agency can do as the courts have the final say especially as the Act setting it up has stipulated penalties for each offence.

He said,” I don’t think the sentencing is light. The Act has stipulated penalties for each offence. Somehow, it has been the discretion of the judges to decide on what to do. But, again, inasmuch as it is within the discretion of the judges, NDLEA as an agency too, has the right to appeal a judgment, which they feel is not fair enough. However, there are lots of things that will make a judge to take a certain decision and I am sure they are well-informed too.

On repeat offenders he stressed, “We have instances like that in the system, but we are very hopeful that the sentencing will be heavier this time around. The fact is no system is perfect. People can take the advantage of the gaps in the system and exploit it. If you are convicted normally, your passport is seized and you are arraigned and tried, but like I said earlier, it is a bailable offence. So, they find a way to get bail.

“I want to make postulation. It is possible they get police report that their international passport is stolen or missing or anything like that. After they do that they can swear to an affidavit and go to the passport office to get a new one. But, when they are arrested again, you will now discover that such suspect had an ongoing case. These are the gaps in the system.

“However, one of the gaps we discuss in one of our trainings recently is how to cover these gaps. If you are not convicted yet, you have some rights, but with collaboration with other security agencies, that can be curbed. But, I can assure you that anyone that is arrested and arrested again, once the judge gets to know, I think the penalty is a bit heavier, but it depends on the circumstances,” he said.

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