Between January 2021 and March 2021, the National Drug Law and Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Murtala Muhammed Airport Command said it has seized a total of 979.667kgs of illicit drugs.
The seized drugs include 63.217kg of cocaine, 0.950grms of heroin, 13.3kg of cannabis Sativa and over 500kgs of khat leaves.
Declaring this to airport journalists, the NDLEA Commander in charge of the Lagos airport Command, Ahmadu Garba also disclosed that 14 suspects were arrested within the period.
“We also arrested 14 suspects within the period. Again, we have been able to secure 14 prosecutions in the court and we got convictions for 12 people.
“I think what I want to stress is that this year, we are able to have the largest single seizure of 26.850kg of cocaine. This is very interesting because it was brought in by a lady. If you look at, this is more than half a bag of rice and if you look at how she did it, she just checked it in as a check-in luggage and passed it through. That is a very serious seizure. I think our officers should be commended for this.
“We have huge seizure of cocaine this year. This is a little different from what is obtained in previous years. In the first quarter of 2020, we had some huge seizures, but not the same for 2018 and 2019.”
Speaking on the controversy over the light sentences often handed down to drug offenders which many argued is encouraging the traffickers to continue with the act, Garba said such sentencing is not light saying: “I don’t think the sentencing is light. The Act has stipulated penalties for each offence. Somehow, it has been the discretion of the judges to decide on what to do.
“But, again, inasmuch as it is within the discretion of the judges, NDLEA as an agency too, has the right to appeal the judgment, which they feel is not fair enough. However, there are lots of things that will make a judge to take a certain decision and I am sure they are well-informed too.”
Responding to how the command treat repeated drug offenders when caught, the NDLEA Commander while agreeing much needed to be done about it, however, assured that such related offenders will soon attract heavier sentencing.
“We have instances like that in the system, but we are very hopeful that the sentencing will be heavier this time around. The fact is no system is perfect. People can take the advantage of the gaps in the system and exploit it.
“If you are convicted normally, your passport is seized and you are arraigned and tried, but like I said earlier, it is a bailable offence. So, they find a way to get bail.
“I want to make postulation. It is possible they get police report that their international passport is stolen or missing or anything like that. After they do that they can swear to an affidavit and go to the passport office to get a new one. But, when they are arrested again, you will now discover that such suspect had an ongoing case. These are the gaps in the system.
“However, one of the gaps we discuss in one of our trainings recently is how to cover these gaps. If you are not convicted yet, you have some rights, but with collaboration with other security agencies, that can be curbed. But, I can assure you that anyone that is arrested and arrested again, once the judge gets to know, I think the penalty is a bit heavier, but it depends on the circumstances.”
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