The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency seized no fewer than 286 assets and 600 bank accounts of drug barons between January 2021 and August 2022.
NDLEA spokesman, Femi Babafemi, who disclosed this in a document made available to one of our correspondents on Tuesday, said the assets consisted of 249 exotic cars and 37 mansions.
The agency’s seizures came against the backdrop of the categorisation of Nigeria by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as the transit point for “heroin and cocaine intended for European, East Asian, and North American markets.”
According to the UN agency, since 2004 “drug traffickers have been increasingly using West African countries, including Nigeria for smuggling large amounts of cocaine from South America into Europe and North America. The country has a relatively high rate of drug abuse due to the continued availability of illicitly manufactured and diverted pharmaceutical products containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.”
The NDLEA, in the document made to The PUNCH, said it was faced with the “overwhelming task of drug control in a country with an exceptionally high prevalence of drug use of 14.4 per cent.”
Explaining the seizures by the agency in the last 20 months, Babafemi said 286 assets were confiscated and 600 bank accounts were frozen.
He stated that the assets of drug barons consisted of “249 exotic vehicles seized and 37 properties forfeited, all scattered across the country.”
The NDLEA also indicated that it seized N871.53m worth of illegal drug funds between January 2021 and August 2022.
It explained that N619.12m was recorded as final illegal drug funds forfeiture and N252.41m as interim forfeiture. The agency grouped this under its drug supply reduction effort where it revealed that it arrested 18,940 suspected drug traffickers from January 2021 to July 2022.
Under its drug supply reduction efforts, it stated, “Assets and financial investigation: Illicit drug funds that were investigated and seized include Final Forfeiture―(i.) One million, three hundred and nineteen thousand, four hundred dollars ($1,319,400) (ii.) One hundred and two thousand pounds (£102,000) (iii.) Fourteen million CFA Francs (CFA 14, 000, 000) ― and Interim forfeiture―Two hundred and fifty-two million, forty hundred and seven thousand, seven hundred and twenty-six-naira, twenty Kobo, (N252,407,726.20).”
The currencies were converted at the Central Bank of Nigeria’s official rate of September 2, 2022. At the time, one dollar was N424.55; one pound was N490.78, and one CFA was N0.64.
The NDLEA explained, “The Agency’s drug supply reduction efforts recorded the following: the arrest of 18,940 suspected drug traffickers (comprising 17,444 males and 1,496 females and including 12 barons) from January 2021 to July 2022; conviction of 2,904 offenders to various jail terms in court; seizure of 3. 6 million kilograms of narcotic and psychotropic substances; cannabis farm destruction: 691 hectares of cannabis farms were detected and destroyed across six states.”
It revealed that it dismantled clandestine meth laboratories following the outbreak of abuse of crystal methamphetamine, popularly called Mkpuru Mmiri in 2021.
It explained that its operational assets were able to locate and dismantle illicit meth laboratories across the country with recent discoveries in Victoria Garden City, Ajah, Lagos and Nise Community, Anambra State.
According to the agency, drug use in the nation was 14.4 per cent 20 months ago. It stated that since then, 12,326 drug-dependent people had been counselled, treated, and rehabilitated in its facilities.
The NDLEA revealed it commissioned a Drug Abuse Call Centre in July of 2021 to enable drug-dependent individuals or families and employers of people suffering from drug use disorder to seek help.
Meanwhile, the agency has secured an interim seizure of 25 properties belonging to billionaire businessman, Mallinson Ukatu, who is on trial for allegedly importing tramadol valued at N3bn into the country.
Ukatu and his accomplice, Sunday Ibekwute, were remanded at the Ikoyi custodial Centre on the orders of Justice Peter Lifu of the Federal High Court, Lagos, in July.
The judge remanded the two defendants, following their plea of not guilty to the charges of conspiracy, trafficking in 322 kilograms of tramadol, unlawful dealing, and possession of the said banned drug made against them by the NDLEA.
Ukatu, who is Chairman of Mallinson group of companies, came under watch last year after five cartons of tramadol 225mg were seized from his staff on May 4, 2021, when he sold them to undercover police officers allegedly led by a former Commander, Intelligence Response Unit, Abba Kyari, a Deputy Commissioner of Police.
Kyari and his deputy, Sunday Ubua, who were subsequently arrested for drug dealing are currently being held in Kuje Custodial Centre, Abuja.
Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in an order dated August 29, 2022, restrained Ukatu or any other person from dealing with the properties listed as exhibit NDLEA III.
A certified true copy of the order in charge number, FHC/ABJ/CS/320/2022, between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Ukatu, obtained by The PUNCH on Tuesday read, ‘’Upon the motion ex-parte dated the 19th day of August, 2022, but filed on 23rd day of August, 2022, coming up today, the 29th day of August, 2022, before this honourable court praying for the following orders:
“An order of this honourable court preserving and restraining the respondent or any person or persons from dealing in any manner whatsoever with the properties listed as exhibit NDLEA III belonging to Ukatu Mallinson reasonably believed to have been derived from unlawful activities pending the conclusion of the investigation and trial of the respondent.
“That an order is hereby made preserving and restraining the respondent or any person or persons from dealing in any manner whatsoever with the properties listed as exhibit NDLEA III below belonging to Ukatu Mallinson reasonably believed to have been derived from unlawful activities pending the conclusion of the investigation and trial of the respondent.
“That an order is hereby made preserving and restraining the applicant or privies, agents and servants from dissipating, interfering or tampering with the properties listed as NDLEA III below belonging to Ukatu Mallinson reasonably believed to have been derived from unlawful activities pending the conclusion of the investigation and trial of the respondent.’’
The properties temporary confiscated by the court include an office building at Ilupeju; building mart at Dopemu; a pharmaceutical factory inside Nigeria Air Force base, Ikeja; Nelo’s Place Event Centre, Ikeja; a personal house at Ikeja and a warehouse at Okota, Amuwo, Lagos.
Also seized were two big warehouses; an office shop; a Toyota car; Volvo SUV; a Range Rover SUV; Bulk Enclave SUV; NISPO factory; a proposed warehouse; a proposed office complex and warehouses in Igboko village, Ado-Ado Ota, Ogun State, Central Business District, Abuja; including a parcel of land at Maryland, Ikeja, Oshodi, Festac Town, Oregun, Ikeja and Nike in Enugu.
Others are a manufacturing plant in Igbesa, Agbara, Ogun State; a property at Yomi Oshikoya Drive, Ikeja and another property in Asaba, Delta State.
Commenting on the feat recorded by the NDLEA, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, charged the Federal Government to adopt a holistic approach in seizing properties linked to drug barons, stating that it should be extended to corrupt civil servants and politicians.
He said, “The aggregate of all the accounts frozen and all luxury cars and items taken cannot compare with what politicians pocket or what civil servants embezzle in the example of the accountant-general of the federation.
“So, if there is a war against corruption either by way of drugs, embezzlement and misappropriation of funds, the government should be holistic in that regard.”
He also posited that seized items should not be allowed to deteriorate but used to impact the economy positively.
“When you seize an item, you don’t allow it to disintegrate. So many houses and cars seized are no longer usable. The government should be proactive by seeking productive use of the seized items and not grind the economy further. We should be able to get positive effects from the seizures.”
Speaking on the implication of the seizures, a legal practitioner, Abdullahi Gayam said that drug barons may end up looking for another means to continue their crime.
“Nobody wants his or her properties to be seized. Naturally, these seizures by the FG will make drug barons rethink or adopt an entirely different way to acquire more properties,’’ he surmised.
The Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development, Idayat Hassan described it as a welcome development, adding that there had never been a concerted effort in the fight against drugs, in the last decade, like there was now.
She, however, tasked the NDLEA to ensure effective management of the seized assets, stating that it would help to cover for past shortfalls of the agency.
The Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, Ariyo-Dare Atoye commended the NDLEA for its fight against drugs, describing it as the only agency of government under the Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) regime that has genuinely and sincerely earned the commendation of Nigerians.
He added that the seizure by the agency implied that traffickers had identified Nigeria as a profitable destination if it were not for the agency’s intervention.
The Coordinator, Advocate for Peoples Rights and Justice, Victor Giwa noted that the best way to combat drug trafficking was to fully equip the NDLEA and strengthen its operations against traffickers.
He called for the legalisation of Indian hemp, arguing that other countries have found that the more they campaign against it, the higher the consumption rate.
Meanwhile, the agency has warned politicians and their supporters against the use of drugs in the campaigns for the 2023 elections, which would begin on September 28.
Babafemi said the NDLEA would work with the Independent National Electoral Commission and other stakeholders to prevent the use of drugs at campaign rallies.
He stated, “More officers and assets have been deployed on the roads and other strategic locations to make the movement of these illicit drugs difficult and our recent arrests and seizures attest to this.
“Anyone found in possession of illicit drugs violates the law and definitely risks arrest for investigation and possible prosecution.”
Advising candidates against buying drugs for youths, he stated, “They need to have a rethink because such has adverse effects not only for the thugs and the youths but their families, communities, the process and the country. The politicians doing this may end up being victims themselves
“The agency works with an enabling Act and the provisions are clear on possession, production, distribution and peddling of illicit substances.”
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Police Inspector’s Son Reportedly Stabs Boy To Death In Delta
The Son of a Serving Police Inspector, Ogbantu, has reportedly stabbed a boy, Onyebuchi Ernest Emeka, to death in Warri, Delta State.
It was gathered that the suspect, Destiny Ogbantu, fled the scene of the incident. The incident occurred at the Police Barracks near “A” Division and the Warri Area Command on Friday, the 22nd of September, at about 6 pm. Details as to why the suspect stabbed the victim to death are still sketchy at the time of this report.
It was gathered that the deceased came to the police barracks when the suspect saw him. He was confronted by the suspect, and a serious argument ensued, leading to a fight between both of them. A source claimed the suspect ran upstairs in the “D” block apartment, picked up a knife and a dagger, chased the deceased, who ran for his dear life until he fell, and then stabbed him countless times.
The deceased was rushed to Lily Hospital, where he died as a result of the bodily injuries he sustained from the stabs. At the time of this report, the said inspector had been arrested by the police on the order of the area commander.
When contacted for comments, the Delta State Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, DSP Bright Edafe, confirmed the report in a telephone chat.
Ilesha Killings: Investigate Osun Governor
Investigate Osun Governor Over Ilesha Killings, Osun APC Tells Police IG
Following the police arrest of a notorious political thug, Dauda Olalekan Ajagungbade popularly known as ‘Emir’ in Osogbo and its environs four days ago, the Osun State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has tasked the Inspector-General of Police to extend the tentacle of the investigation of the ilesha killings perpetrated by the suspect to the state Governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke.
The APC noted that its call became necessary because ‘Emir’ is an ally of the governor.
It would be recalled that the police in Osun State arrested the notorious crime suspect, Ajagungbade, who was a member of Governor Adeleke Transition Committee and currently Head of the state Task Force on Motorparks across the state for allegedly physically assaulting a man with cutlasses, cudgels, knives and charms.
The PDP thug who has been on the wanted list of the police since July 2, 2022 for alleged criminal offences including murder such as ilesha killings, cultism, kidnapping and being in possession of firearms, was subsequently transferred to the Police Headquarters in Abuja for intensive investigation.
It would be recalled that Olalekan was alleged to have led the killings of five people including one Oyewale Sheriff shortly after the inauguration of Governor Adeleke and burned one person (Olalekan Waheed) to death in a cruel manner in Osogbo last year.
Emir was also alleged to have led the PDP political thugs to snatch ballot boxes in Boripe, Osogbo and Olorunda Local Government Council Areas of the state during the last presidential, governorship, national and state assembly elections.
The notorious PDP thug reported to have caused bodily harm to a lecturer, the Director of Examinations, at the Osun State Polytechnic, Iree, was also alleged to have been involved in the killings of more than five people at the recent grand finale of this year’s Osun Osogbo festival and escaped to the convoy of Governor Adeleke when the police attempted his arrest.
The ilesha killings which happened in Ilesa last Sunday and Tuesday where no fewer than four people were killed while a traditional ruler, the Alamo of Aiyegbaju-Ijesa, Oba Abidemi Adeyemi, and others were severely wounded, has also been linked to the daredevil PDP political thug.
It has been observed that the inauguration of the administration of Governor Adeleke heralded the influx of political hoodlums into the state who have been enjoying executive protection at the Ede country home of the Adelekes from police arrest. They find refuge there to evade arrest.
Observations over time have also shown that the governor, who goes about with the thugs of all shades, showing preference for their presence wherever he may be so much so that he now extends to them political patronage of employments and empowerment.
As a demonstration of his love and preference for hard guys around him, it is on record that he last week gave a Special Assistant appointment to one Olagoke Ezekiel popularly known as ‘Oba Ezekiel’ , a known ‘hitman’ of a violent cult group in Kwara State.
However, after much pressure and heckling from the disturbed public, Adeleke in a press statement, directed the statutory law enforcement agents to take charge of the security architecture of Ijesaland, saying: *’We will no longer tolerate actions capable of disrupting the peaceful atmosphere in the state.’*
From the above submission of Governor Adeleke, it means his government was all along deliberately tolerating the actions capable of disrupting the peaceful atmosphere of the state.
The Osun State chapter of the APC nevertheless, consoled the people of Ilesa over the tragic violent attacks by the mentioned two factions of cultists fighting supremacy battle which resulted into fatality of innocent souls in the ancient town.
Having said that, the party chided Governor Adeleke to stop shedding crocodile tears over the tragic incidents, accusing him candidly that he could not wash himself clean over the crises in any part of the state as his administration is thuggery-friendly.
According to the state APC chairman, Sooko Tajudeen Lawal, in a statement issued by the party’s Director of Media and Information, Chief Kola Olabisi, in Osogbo, the state capital today, the Osun State people are not that forgetful not to remember that political deviants were let loose across the state immediately after the inauguration of the Adeleke administration on November 27, 2022.
Lawal asked Governor Adeleke if he has forgotten so soon that the political barbarians who are loyal to him and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) began the unchecked terrorizing and victimization of perceived and real members of the opposition APC and some innocent members of the public right from the Osogbo City Stadium, the venue of the event.
The APC chairman recalled that Adeleke has made the state a safe haven for political hoodlums to perpetrate their crime as he gives unfettered refuge to some of the criminals who are on the wanted list of the police.
Lawal stated that it is no longer news that some of the dangerous political thugs take refuge in the Ede country home of the Adelekes from where the instant services of some of them are activated to physically deal with political counterparts within and without.
The state APC chairman pilloried Adeleke and insisted that he could not feign ignorance of the role played by some of the thugs in the brazen rigging in the governorship election that brought him in in 2022 and the series of elections in 2023 where no fewer than 30 members of the APC were sent to the great beyond by the daredevil PDP savages.
Lawal stated that keen watchers of events in the state would not agree less that Governor Adeleke is a closet patron of violent scoundrels as he has appointed quite a number of them into his government as an expression of his gratitude for helping him thwart the electoral choices of the voters in the elections.
He enjoined the police to intensify their operations in order to get at other political hoodlums who wreck havoc in the state in the name of politics.
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Mr Suleiman Musa, a resident of the village told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the hoodlums invaded the community in the early hours of Wednesday.
He said the hoodlums invaded the village firing several gunshots before breaking into some houses where they adducted the seven-year-old girl.
According to him, the quick intervention of a police team forced the gunmen to scramble out of the village.
NAN gathered that the Kwali Divisional Police Headquarters responded to the distress call on the attack at about 5 am on Wednesday.
A source said it was the swift response of police personnel, hunters and vigilance members led by the Kwali Divisional Police Officer (DPO) that saved the community from further harm from the gunmen.
He said that the hoodlums engaged the security team in gun battle before escaping with the abducted girl.
The source said that the security team is currently combing the area with a view to rescuing the girl and arresting the gunmen.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the FCT, SP Josephine Adeh, said she would get back to our reporter as soon as she gets details of the incident.
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