The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), is in the news lately and for all the right reasons. The agency, hitherto, perceived as one of those institutions set up to create ‘job for the boys’ has suddenly stirred itself up to public applause since the assumption of duty by the current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mohammed Marwa, a retired Brigadier General.
In the aftermath of the arrest of shamed super cop, DCP Abba Kyari and four others namely ACP Sunday Ubua; ASP Bawa James; Inspector Simon Agirgba and Inspector John Nuhu on February 14, 2022, on drug related charges, NDLEA is, deservedly, upbeat as it revels in the success of its sting operation that led to the arrest and detention of these officers who were part of an elite corps of crime bursters.
That the NDLEA was able to pull this through is a reflection of the emergence of a new way of doing things in that agency. Those conversant with drug racket must be familiar with its attractions in terms of the kind of money involved. It is a multi-billion-dollar business syndicate that has tentacles in almost all facets of the society including the security agencies as the recent arrests attest to.
The incentive to get involved in it is, without doubt, attractive because of the sudden wealth it promises. Those engaged in combating the crime are exposed to, not just a promise of good life if they connive and collude but also the danger of being killed, if they do their job. The desperate criminals who run the rings are out to do the daring to achieve their aim and would brook no obstruction on their way. The details of the sting operation by the NDLEA revealed an inexorable fact that before now, the security agencies were having a field day with the criminals.
But with the success of this operation that raked in such high-profile accomplices from a sister agency of government, the NDLEA has sounded a note of warning that the current management of the organisation, under Marwa, will stop at nothing to cleanse the society of this crime that attracts and permeates all the gamut of the social strata.
For the NDLEA, it is pointer to that fact that it has taken a radical departure from what used to be the norm- a hand in glove relationship between some security operatives and the drugs lords. The agency’s prompt and decisive action of declaring DCP Kyari and his cohorts wanted in connection with a cocaine deal leading to their arrest by the police hierarchy and handing over was a rare display of willpower and institutional professionalism.
Also worthy of commendation is the role President Muhammadu Buhari played in the event that led to the rejuvenation of the agency and putting at its head a chief executive with a pedigree who since the assumption of duty has made it clear that it will no longer be business as usual.
Curiously, one of those arrested, Kyari, is already a fugitive from justice based on the America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) indictment of him as a key figure in a transnational cybercrime involving Nigerian Instagram celebrity and notorious internet fraudster, Ramon Abbas, alias Hushpuppi, arrested on June 25, 2020, during a sting operation in Dubai, United Arab Emirate.
The FBI had charged Kyari who, at the time, was commander of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Force Intelligence Bureau of the Nigerian Police, for complicity and requested his arrest and extradition. Already, most Nigerians have jumped to the conclusion that the purported investigation of Kyari by the Police would, at the end of the day, be swept under the carpet, based on the myth of the “sacred cow” and “the Nigerian factor.”
As this saga unfolds, the big lesson to be learnt is the necessity on the part government to consistently build the capacity of its various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), especially those charged with the responsibility of interfacing with desperate criminals who have scant regard for decency or morality.
NDLEA, in our considered opinion, is one of those agencies, that has benefitted from the turnaround policy of the government. The past year recorded a comprehensive overhaul of a moldy, decrepit and dysfunctional NDLEA. The appointment of Marwa was kicked off with the launch of the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) campaign and the approval of the recruitment and training of additional 5, 000 narcotic officers, among other major interventions.
NDLEA, in our considered opinion, is justifying the government’s investments with an impressive record of 12,306 arrests, 1,367 convictions, 3.4m kg seizures and recovery of cash and drugs worth over N130 billion as well as counselling and treatment of about 8,000 drug users in one single year.
From this perspective, it is pertinent that this newspaper reminds NDLEA that its hands are on the plough. There must be no looking back