By Ibironke Ariyo
National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) says a total of 15 drug kingpins, out of the 3,412 drug offenders successfully prosecuted and convicted in 2023, collectively bagged 168 years imprisonment.
NDLEA Chairman, Retired Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa, stated this on Wednesday in Abuja while addressing commanders and officers of the agency during an award and commendation ceremony.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a total of 104 personnel and 13 state commands, with outstanding performances in the second half of 2023, were recognised and rewarded during the ceremony.
Marwa said that personnel performance individually and collectively could be better, adding that the agency would always appreciate every effort made to help sustain the momentum of the upward trajectory since January 2021.
He said that the agency recorded 13,664 arrests, leading to the seizure of 1,606,799.09kg of assorted illicit drugs and 3,412 convictions, with a total of 5,570 offenders charged to court in 2023.
“It is indeed a year that, at least, 15 drug kingpins bagged 168 years of imprisonment collectively. That is a substantial improvement in our performances in 2022.
“In 2023, we also ramped up our enforcement action against cannabis farms and carried out, at least, seven successful major operations.
“This, however, led to the discovery and destruction of over 206 hectares of cannabis plantations,” he said.
The NDLEA boss said that the frequency and intensity of NDLEA advocacy throughout 2023 improved considerably.
He also said that that zonal and state commands had been very dedicated to propagating the War Against Drug Abuse Advocacy (WADA).
“As a result, a total of 2,725 sensitisation lectures and programmes were held in schools, worship centres, work places and communities, among others.
“A breakdown of the WADA lectures held in 2023 shows 807 in primary/secondary schools; 146 in tertiary institutions; 488 for out of school children, 264 in worship centres, 140 in military/paramilitary organizations and 90 in other work places.
“Just as well, our commands and formations have coped with the increased workload of counselling activities, leading to the counselling and rehabilitation of 10,904 drug users,” he said.
Marwa said that those who had been in the agency longer than 2021 could attest to the fact that the past three years had brought different dynamics to NDLEA operations and performances.
This, he said, had been further reinforced by the content of a letter from the National Assembly two weeks ago commending the agency’s efforts in the fight against illicit drug consumption and trafficking.
“This recognition by both chambers of the national assembly should serve as a further morale booster and a reminder that your efforts are not going unnoticed.
“I must also say that the NDLEA management has no misgivings about instituting the Commands Awards and Commendations.
“This twice-a-year event, though a reward system, serves as an inward-looking glass for critical self-analysis and, therefore, a mechanism that puts the agency on its toes.
“Each time we gather here to honour exemplary officers and commands, we are making a loud statement that we value meritocracy and that hard work is a virtue we hold in high esteem.
“We are trying to normalise good performances,” Marwa said. (NAN)
By Ibironke Ariyo