Making drug trafficking unpalatable essential for Nigeria’s economy

0

Recording its one-off biggest seizure,  the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on Monday September  19, 2022, disclosed how it bust into a compartment warehousing narcotics worth over N194billion in the Ikorodu area of Lagos State. At least, four drug barons including a Jamaican and the warehouse manager were arrested in Lagos through intelligence operation in connection with the discovery.

According to a statement on Monday by the spokesperson, Director, Media & Advocacy, NDLEA, Femi Babafemi, disclosing the development, the warehouse was raided on Sunday 18th September, 2022, while the barons were picked from hotels and their hideouts in different parts of Lagos between Sunday night and Monday 19th September, 2022. It was disclosed preliminary investigation revealed the class A drugs were warehoused in the residential estate from where the cartel was trying to sell them to buyers in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world. They were stored in 10 travel bags and 13 drums.

The statement read partly: “In what appears to be the biggest singular cocaine seizure in the history of Nigeria’s premier anti-narcotic agency, operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, have busted a major warehouse in a secluded estate in Ikorodu area of Lagos where 1.8tons (1,855 kilograms) of the illicit drug worth more than Two Hundred and Seventy Eight Million Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($278, 250,000) equivalent of about One Hundred and Ninety Four Billion, Seven Hundred and Seventy Five Million (N194, 775,000,000) Naira in street value were seized.

“At least, four drug barons including a Jamaican and the warehouse manager have been arrested in the well coordinated and intelligence led operation that lasted two days across different locations in Lagos state. Kingpins of the cocaine cartel in custody include: Messrs Soji Jibril, 69, an indigene of Ibadan, Oyo state; Emmanuel Chukwu, 65, who hails from Ekwulobia, Anambra state; Wasiu Akinade, 53, from Ibadan, Oyo state; Sunday Oguntelure, 53, from Okitipupa, Ondo state and Kelvin Smith, 42, a native of Kingston, Jamaica. They are all members of an international drug syndicate that the Agency has been trailing since 2018.

“Located at 6 Olukuola crescent, Solebo estate, Ikorodu, the warehouse was raided on Sunday 18th September, 2022, while the barons were picked from hotels and their hideouts in different parts of Lagos between Sunday night and Monday 19th September. While commending all the officers and men of the Agency involved in the extensive investigation including those of the American Drug Enforcement Administration, (US-DEA), Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) said the bust is a historical blow to the drug cartels and a strong warning that they’ll all go down if they fail to realise that the game has changed,” the statement added.

The development was alarming, attracting commendation from President Muhammadu Buhari, showering applause on the NDLEA boss. A statement on Monday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, quoted the president saying the feat gladdens his heart.  In a telephone call to the Chairman of the anti-narcotics agency from New York where he is attending the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 77),  the statement quoted President Buhari to have said: “I deeply appreciate the work that you have put into the eradication of the drug menace. It gladdens my heart as I continue to follow the successes achieved under your leadership.”

However, while the discovery, the arrests and seizures were good records in the fight against drug trafficking and its abuse, it is still not much enough to exterminate the exchanges of the illegitimate venture. It is time the government must build on the architecture to unravel and address the major root factors informing why despite the huge records of discoveries, arrests and seizures, the network of drug cartels seem to be waxing broader and stronger. The need to blend both kinetic and non kinetic measures has become pertinent.

The impacts of drug trafficking and its abuse have had far reaching impacts on the Nigerian economy. The negativities transcend the superficial, with direct and indirect blows, ravaging societal fabrics.  Economists have highlighted the necessity to exterminate the network of proliferation of narcotics in the Country as one of the strong moves to curb the negative impacts of insecurity on the economy, harping on the connectivity of proliferation of narcotics to crime and insecurity. The government must not relent on its fight, but must also make such fight strategic and encompassing to address the causative factors informing the extension of the illegitimate venture. Creating resistance measures to make it unattractive among Nigerians is an inclusive fight the Government must create a path for.