- Category: Society
- Published on Saturday, 11 September 2010 22:09
- Written by The Street Journal
- Hits: 3877
Before Ahmadu Giade, a retired Deputy Commissioner of Police was appointed as Chairman of the NDLEA in November 2005; the agency still had some of the respect it had garnered from the late 1990s.Names like Fulani Kwajafa and Musa Bamaiyi caused commotion in drug circles then.
Major General Bamaiyi particularly made Lagos uninhabitable for drug Lords then. Over the years however, many Nigerians have wondered why the drug war has not yielded the desired result. Street Journal’s investigations have revealed that the agency’s Chairman, Ahmadu Giade is one of those tactically rendering the NDLEA impotent. Years ago, a reform panel headed by retired Justice Gilbert Obayan made damning revelations about the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
Apart from the revelation that convicts paid bribes in foreign currencies to be set free illegally, the panel also revealed the existence of a cartel within the NDLEA that ensures that rich drugs barons don’t get to court and when they do, they are never convicted. There were also cases of drug convicts who were never found in prison. According to the panel’s report, the cartel made up of NDLEA officials, lawyers and prison warders is responsible for the release of about 200 drug barons and couriers convicted by the courts and sentenced to various jail terms.
In the panel’s report, 11 top prosecutors of the NDLEA; 14 lawyers; and 11 prison officials were listed as the members of the cartel. Street Journal gathered that the modus operandi of the cartel involves making sure that convicted drug barons did not get to prison after leaving the courts or that those who did were quickly released. The report also showed that the cartel ensured that 101 convicted drug barons and couriers successfully prosecuted by the NDLEA in 2005 were not taken into prison custody after being sentenced, and that 96 convicts ‘disappeared’ between the court and prisons in 2006. Street Journal also discovered that all the cases involved in the jail racketeering were handled by the same set of counsel and prosecutors.
The report also uncovered fraud in almost every department of the NDLEA, for instance, the agency’s Regional Academy for Drug Control was built at the cost of N260million instead of its actual cost of N60.011m. Pages 169 and 170 of the report stated that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had investigated the contract inflation in respect of the Academy construction and confirmed a fraud. Though the panel’s report has been submitted since February, 2007, it has not been implemented. Investigations carried out by Street Journal revealed that the copies of the 175 page report submitted by the panel, duly received and acknowledged have gone missing.
A clear indication that things are not the way they used to be in the NDLEA is the way many drug lords walk as free men on the streets. Their praises are sung by top rated musicians and they grace the pages of celebrity journals all over. Many still recall that after the arrest of many of her drug couriers then, Toyin Abraham better known as Toyin Igbira (who was then on the wanted list of the NDLEA) walked into General Bamaiyi’s office at the agency’s headquarters and asked him to name his price.
The no nonsense General ordered and effected her arrest right there in his office. The same Toyin Igbira regained her celebrity status years after and of course she got back into business. She was listed as a wanted person again by the NDLEA three years ago after the arrest of one Babatunde Jamiu at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport. Nothing was heard about the case again. For so long, Akindele Ikumoluyi, was the overlord on the Lagos Island and he walked the streets as a freeman even in spite of the arrest of many of his couriers. Even after one of his couriers who was “punished” for diverting Ile Eru’s merchandise indicated his willingness to testify against him, there was still a lot of foot dragging by the NDLEA. By the time they swooped on Akindele’s enclave, it was more of a face saving move for the agency.
Street Journal has been informed that there is hardly any arrest of a big time drug baron in Nigeria that was not prompted by INTERPOL or foreign drug law enforcement agencies. The NDLEA applied to move Akindele to Kirikiri maximum security prison on the allegation that he was plotting his escape. Surprisingly, Ile Eru’s status as a big man was not in any way affected by the transfer. Street Journal gathered that apart from being allowed “weekly outings”, he was reportedly given the liberty to attend parties. Sources revealed that he even got his wife pregnant while still in jail. In his prison cell in Kirikiri, Ile-eru was alleged to have enjoyed luxuries like a big screen TV set with Satellite Cable access, two generating sets and different mobile phones. Till date he remains the only drug convict whose properties were not confiscated upon imprisonment.
Incidentally, the rot is not restricted to the agents on the field; the legal section of the NDLEA is not spared. When drug barons are convicted in Nigeria, the sentences are usually light. Street Journal gathered that Benson Ndakara, one of the most famous lawyers in the NDLEA circles today was one of those allegedly booted out of the agency during the Bamaiyi years. During the much celebrated case of Taiwo Hassanat Akinwande, a popular Yoruba actress who was arrested for drugs, Ndakara was the defense counsel.
He is also currently representing Chief Ayotor, a House of Assembly aspirant who was arrested for drug possession on his way to Germany in April. Street Journal has also gathered that the on going trial of a Taiwanese, a Chinese national and their Nigerian accomplices for the illegal importation of 450 kg of cocaine might eventually lead nowhere. Sources revealed that the people being tried might not be the actual owners of the drug consignment said to be worth about N 4 billion.
The source opined that rather than looking beyond the small fries in order to find out the real masterminds, the Nigerian drug law enforcers are celebrating themselves as having achieved. The other reason those who feel the case will end up being scuttled do so is because from his records, most of those represented by Ndakara end up not seeing the inside of a prison cell. The Chairman, Ahmadu Giade too is said to be a major factor in the declining fortune of the anti-drug war in Nigeria.
Under his watch, the agency has allegedly lost the commitment and necessary zeal to combat drug peddlers and their barons. Only a few years ago, the agency reportedly seized about 240 kilogrammes of cocaine shipped into Nigeria by some barons. The consignment was valued at more than N 2 billion. Some arrests were made but nothing was heard thereafter. The case was allegedly “killed” by the NDLEA Chairman. Street Journal found out that Giade is also known for his stand which favors officers from the Northern part of the country at the expense of others.
The Justice Obayan panel recommended the dismissal of 71 0fficials, out of which only 9 were retired. The agency sacrificed 62 innocent officers to make up the number and cover up those indicted by the panel. One of the cases mentioned to Street Journal was that of Baba Hussein. It was recommended that Hussein, the Director of Operations and General Investigations should be reprimanded for some wrongdoings bothering on the loss of some exhibits from a drug haul.
The exhibits were reportedly lost in transit but the Chairman helped in covering it up thereby making sure that Hussein got a clean bill of health. Even officers of the NDLEA admit that Giade’s ways of doing things have made a mess of the normal operations of the agency. Some officers even alleged that “in big time cases, Chairman (Giade) takes bribes directly”. The American drug law enforcement agency, DEA has also described Nigeria as one of the big transit markets for drugs while the NDLEA is seen as the worst in terms of combating the illicit trade in drugs.