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.