An Organisation championing the fight against illicit drugs, The Initiative for Better Societal Enlightenment, IBSE, has questioned the current fight against illicit drugs in the country by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, especially the Monday’s statement that the agency has nabbed the suspect behind the alleged N3 billion tramadol seizure.
In a statement signed the Executive Director on Tuesday in Lagos, Dr Daniel Okoh, the Organisation said it has become necessary to speak regarding this case because the statement from the NDLEA was not correct either because the agency has something to hide or it did not do its job well in a rush to nail somebody.
“The NDLEA spokesperson, Mr Femi Babafemi, had disclosed in a statement on Monday, titled, ‘NDLEA arrests drug baron behind N3 billion Tramadol linked to Abba Kyaris team’, and went further to name one Afam Emmanuel Ukatu, who he termed ‘drug baron’ as the brain behind the huge bust of drugs.
“He further said ‘the suspect is said to be operating 103 bank accounts, most of which are used to launder money’.
“He accused Ukatu of being ‘a major importer of large consignments of different brands and high dosages of Tramadol Hydrochloride, ranging from 120mg, 200mg, 225mg and 250mg’, and that Ukatu ‘owns pharmaceutical and plastic manufacturing companies, which he used as a cover to import illicit drugs into Nigeria’.”
“According to NDLEA’s spokesman, the Intelligent Response Team of the Nigerian Police had ‘seized five cartons of Tramadol 225mg…from his (Ukatu’s) staff on 4th May 2021 when he sent them to sell to undercover police officers (unknown to Ukatu) from the then Kyari-led IRT of the Nigeria Police, Ikeja Lagos’.”
“He said Ukatu’s staffs arrested were ‘Pius Enidom and Sunday Ibekwete’, who then led the police to ‘Mallinson’s warehouse at Ojota in Lagos where 197 additional Cartons of Tramadol 225mg were seized by the IRT Team. The monetary value of the 202 cartons of Tramadol seized from Mallinson in one day was over N3 billion’.”
“He then said 190 cartons of the Tramadol could not be accounted for as only 12 cartons with one truck were taken to the ‘Lagos Command of the NDLEA’.”
“We want to state that the statement from the NDLEA is replete with fallacies and another attempt to wrongly accuse Mr Abba Kyari of what he did not know. The statement continuously mentioned ‘Kyari’s team’ to give weight to the activity of the NDLEA.
“Kyari is not the highest ranked police officer in the country, the Inspector General of Police is. The IRT which Kyari headed was called IGP-IRT not Kyari’s IRT. Such unprofessional display of official duty smacks of an attempt to divert attention from the real issue.
“IBSE makes bold to state that we are aware of the statement from Mr Ukatu and he did not at any time mention Abba Kyari neither did the staff who were arrested.
“We also make bold to add that the IRT officers in Lagos who undertook that arrest have given statements to the Police authorities on this case and they have never indicted Kyari. Their statements was clear on the arrest they made and the transfer of exhibits and suspect they did to NDLEA all in Lagos.
“There was no any person or suspect that gave statement contradicting what the Police team said, nobody gave statement that over 100 cartons was recovered. It’s the usual falsehood from NDLEA in their desperation to make headlines. Let them show the world one Person who gave statement that more than 100 cartons of tramadol was recovered.
“While we are not holding brief for Kyari or Ukatu as they have their lawyers to speak for them, we cannot but keep quiet as stakeholders in the fight against illicit drugs for the dilution of the war against drugs. This is setting the country backwards.
“Unfortunately for the NDLEA, it failed to provide evidence that indeed there were additional 190 cartons of drugs or who took them or how it arrived at the number generally. The agency did not also show where it was recorded that apart from the 15 cartons it said it is in receipt of, where the 190 it said disappeared was recorded.
“This is even more worrisome as Ukatu has denied dealing on illicit drugs or that he had any knowledge of the drugs in question. We challenge the NDLEA to state if Ukatu admitted to the drugs or mentioned Kyari or his men went away with 190 cartons of the tramadol.
“This kind of diversionary tactics to generate media hype as if the agency is now reining in all illicit drug dealers in rather an attempt to help the real drug barons continue in their illicit business.
“IBSE has been campaigning and working with security agencies as partners and groups to eradicate illicit drugs but NDLEA has never been helpful. Rather than partner groups in the war against banned substances, the agency is going solo and targeting some individuals in what many are now saying are targeted strategy for political and personal scores to settle.
“It’s assumed that the 190 cartons would have been sold by Kyari and his team and the money shared. It would help the public to believe the agency if they can provide the account details of Kyari and his team as evidence that the proceeds of the drugs passed through their accounts. Anything short of this would further soil the little image left of the agency.
“IBSE shall continue to partner the agency and other relevent agencies to eradicate use of Illegal substances and drugs but the NDLEA must rein in its excesses and staff that are complicit in this fight against illicit drugs. We are aware of how NDLEA’s staff at the Enugu Airport collude with drug barons to bring banned drugs into the country.
“The NDLEA staff, who allowed the two men import the much celebrated 25kg of drugs into the country few months ago are walking freely. We are aware they were summoned to Abuja but have been allowed to return to their duty post despite the indictment of their men in the Enugu Airport by the Suspects arrested with the drugs by the IRT team and transferred to NDLEA. The Video confessions of the Suspects as contained in the police Investigation report with Reference number CB:4099/FIB/FHQ/ABJ/VOL.4/462 dated 28 February, 2022 is very clear on the involvement of the NDLEA who are now shielded from investigation and Prosecution.
“Such act of connivance will continue to breed rogue staff who will continue to act as accessories to drug barons with the consequence that war against illegal drugs will be of no effect.
“Finally, NDLEA should retrace it’s step and wage an all encompassing war against illicit drugs if the fight against illicit substances and drugs would yield the desired effect.”