Drug body seeks stiffer punishment for barons

By Chiamaka Okechukwu, Lagos

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, is seeking stiffer punishment for methamphetamine production and trafficking in Nigeria.

The move came after the operatives of the NDLEA intercepted methamphetamine worth 14 billion Naira, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

The NDLEA commander, Ahmadu Garba said that a suspect, Richard Efetobore Ese was apprehended in connection with the seized methamphetamine and would be charged soon.

“Officers discovered 45kgs of substance that tested positive for methamphetamine. The suspect is assisting our team of investigators and will be charged,” the commander stated.

The 48-year-old suspect said that he was given one million Naira to smuggle the drugs to South Africa.

“ I was told the bag contains African food but during search, the NDLEA officers discovered methamphetamine in the luggage weighing 45kgs. I worked in Madrid for ten years as a Chef and I am married with four children. The man that gave me the job met me in a drinking club,” he explained.

Describing the seizure as a victory over drug barons, the Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Colonel Muhammad Abdallah said that the Agency’s efforts in addressing the problem of methamphetamine production and trafficking must be complemented by stakeholders.

Abdallah also promised to arrest other members of the criminal group.

According to him, locally produced methamphetamine is in high demand in Asia and Europe thus making the criminal trade highly lucrative.

“Methamphetamine and similar drugs deserves stiffer punishment to check the proliferation of clandestine laboratories and cases of trafficking. Continued production exposes our youths to the risk of being recruited by drug barons to smuggle it out. It is therefore worrisome that most seizures made are even destined to countries where drug trafficking is punishable by death” Abdallah stated.

Methamphetamine is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It is also known as meth, chalk, ice, and crystal, among many other names. It takes the form of a white, odourless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol.

Nigeria has so far discovered 11 of such clandestine laboratories where the drug is produced since 2011. Five were found in Lagos State, another five in Anambra State and one in Delta State.

Previous arrest
Three Bolivians were on Tuesday sentenced to six years’ imprisonment at the Federal High Court in Lagos for dealing in illicit drugs.

The convicts, Reuben Jorge, Yhugo Moreno and Yerko Dorado openly celebrated their conviction in court, a situation that provokes more questions than answers on the adequacy of penal sanctions in the country.

They were sentenced by Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, who affirmed their guilty plea to the two counts pressed against them by the Anti-Narcotic agency.

She sentenced the convicts to six years on each count. It would run concurrently, starting from February 3, 2013, when they were arrested.

Mercy Chukwudiebere