National Drug Law Enforcement Agency
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) is a Federal agency in Nigeria charged with eliminating the growing, processing, manufacturing, selling, exporting, and trafficking of hard drugs. The agency was established by Decree Number 48 of January 1990. The NDLEA is present in international airports, seaports and border crossing. It tries to eradicate cannabis by destroying plantings. The NDLEA also targets the leaders of narcotics and money laundering organizations.
Alhaji Ahmadu Giade, the Chairman, NDLEA has described illicit drugs as "alien" to Nigeria. Cannabis, now locally grown in most states of the federation, was introduced to the country by foreigners. Ms Dagmar Thomas, the Country Representative of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), says Nigeria was one of the largest cannabis growers in Africa, with over 8% of the population abusing cannabis. Annual cannabis seizures increased from 126 metric tones in 2005 to 210 metric tones in 2007.
The NDLEA describes the South West region of Nigeria as one of the main centers of illicit drug production in the country. 196.5 acres (0.795 km2) of cannabis farmland was discovered and destroyed in the region in 2008. In particular, Edo State has the highest rate of seizure of cannabis in the country. In April 2009, the NDLEA confiscated 6.5 tones of marijuana from the home of a man in Ogun State who claimed to be 114 years old. In September 2009 the NDLEA reported destroying a 24 hectare Cannabis Plantation in a forest reserve in Osun State.
In January 2009, the NDLEA publicly burned 5,605.45 kilograms of drugs seized from traffickers in the historic town of Badagry, Lagos. The bonfire included 376.45 kilograms of cocaine, 71.46 kilogramm of heroin and 5,157.56 tonnes of cannabis.
The USA has donated full body scanning machines for the Lagos, Kano, Abuja and Port Harcourt international airports and has provided security training and orientation airport officers. The machines have proved effective in catching smugglers and couriers taking cocaine from Latin America to Europe by way of Nigeria. Between 2006 and June 2008 over 12,663 suspected drug dealers were arrested, with seizure of over 418.8 metric tonnes of various hard drugs. For example, in July 2009 a woman about to board a KLM flight at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport was arrested by NDLEA officers and later excreted 42 wraps of cocaine, weighing 585 grams. In September 2009, the NDLEA arrested a Guinean woman en route from Brazil to Europe with 6.350 kg of pure cocaine at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos.
In 2008 Nigeria was certified by the United States of America in the anti-narcotic crusade, for the eight successive time. President George Bush said that Nigeria had made significant progress in counter narcotics and had effectively co-operated with the United States on drug-related and money laundering cases. In Katsina State alone, one hundred people were convicted for drug offences from January to May 2008, and 358 people were arrested for drug offences in this period.
Speaking of efforts to go after the organizers of the trade, Ahmadu Giade, chairman/chief executive officer of NDLEA in 2008 said the agency had seized N270 million worth of shares from drug barons, as well as cars, houses and other property worth hundreds of millions of Naira.
After a September 2009 meeting with the head of the Nigerian Immigration Service to discuss exchange of biometric data of convicted drug barons and traffickers, Giade said cooperation between the agencies would help deny passports to convicted drug barons.
The U.S. Department of State notes that there have been credible allegations of drug-related corruption at NDLEA. In late November 2005 NDLEA Chairman Bello Lafiaji was dismissed by President Obasanjo due to allegations of corruption and replaced by Ahmadu Giade, a retired deputy commissioner of police.
Bello Lafiaji’s continued vow and dedication to make life unbearable for drug merchants and strike them where it hurts the most made him a target of the drug baron as was evidenced in their connivance with some third party to frame him up in 2005.
Bello Lafiaji was wrongly convicted on June 21, 2010 of conspiracy and conversion of 164,300 euros seized from a drug suspect in November 2005 when he was the Chairman of the NDLEA. He was sentenced to four years in prison together with his personal assistant. They were investigated by Nigeria’s Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).
Lafiaji appealed his conviction and on November 22, 2011, a three-judge panel of Nigeria’s Court of Appeal in Lagos overturned Lafiaji’s conviction in a unanimous decision and held that the prosecution failed to prove its cases against the appellants beyond reasonable doubt.
Lafiaji was therefore discharged and acquitted by the Federal Court of Appeal Lagos, Nigeria.
In June 2003 the National Committee for the Reform of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency issued a report that identified a cartel of senior NDLEA members which arranged release of 197 convicted drug barons and couriers between 2005 and 2006, and recommended prosecution of these official.
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- I Was Asked to Lie About Euros – Ex-NDLEA Employee: http://allafrica.com/stories/200911050171.html
- Wrongly Convicted Database Record: http://forejustice.org/db/Lafiaji--Alhaji-Bello-.html
- Appeal Court Sets Lafiaji Free: http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/appeal-court-sets-lafiaji-free/103461/
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