Gentlemen of the Press.
Once again, the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL) is compelled to address you on the pertinent issue of endemic corruption which remains a major clog in the quest to evolve genuine democratic Nigeria. It is no longer news that the scourge of corruption is daily developing unusual resistance against our fight in Nigeria; no thanks to its endemic and multi-faceted nature and the peculiar nature of our socio-cultural environment.
This Press Conference is called during this year’s Anti-Drug Day celebration to put in proper perspective and direct global attention to the monumental covers-up at the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) masterminded by the Chairman/Chief Executive of the Agency, Alhaji Ahmadu Giade, who has continued to orchestrate the false impression that Nigeria is on course with its war against drug. It is an opportunity being utilised to add our voice to the teeming voices of well-meaning Nigerians calling for the probe and prompt prosecution and, if found culpable, mete out adequate punishment of the supposed foremost anti-drug czar for aiding and abetting corruption in the agency.
At the moment, not less than 12 petitions have been forwarded to the presidency, National Security Adviser, NSA, Secretary to the Federal Government of the Federation, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Stakeholders and to the Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission, EFCC, against the ineptitude and unbridled corruption by the NDLEA boss.
It is on record that within only one year, between 2005 and 2006, when Alhaji Giade assumed the rein of power at the Agency, a whooping 197 drug convicts are known to have been helped to evade the four walls of the prison, even after jail sentences were duly passed on them by various courts of competent jurisdiction. According to a report by TELL magazine of April 22, 2013, 101 convicts in 2005 and 96 in 2006, were illegally freed by a criminal syndicate of NDLEA prosecutors, defence counsels, and prison officials, thus making a complete mockery of our country’s justice system.
According to the report of Justice Gilbert Obayan National Committee for the reform of NDLEA, submitted in February 2007, jail racketeering is a vice that is pervasive in the anti-drug agency. Jail-evasion is actualized by the prosecution hands in the Agency and prison officials who strike the bargain, which is said to be usually initiated by the defence team. All the super rich drug barons have to do, is to part with some millions of naira, which gives them no hassle to part with, going by humongous gains they make from the illicit trade in the long run.
More so, apart from some unscrupulous elements of the agency helping drug convicts to evade serving their jail terms, they also ensure that the suspects, while on trial get light punishments. It is heart-rending and ridiculous to note that many of the convictions secured by the Agency only show sentences ranging from mere three (3) months to three (3) years.
This negates Sections 11, 14, 19, 20 and 21 of the NDLEA Act which explicitly specify penalties for all drug-related offences, ranging from minimum of 15 to 25 years imprisonment for anyone found guilty of unlawful possession of, or trafficking in illicit drugs, without any provision for plea-bargaining or fine. However, investigation reveals that drug convicts are still allowed plea-bargaining and drug peddlers who are ready to pay the price, get lighter sentence with options of fine.
A very good example is that of a renowned actress, Akinwande Taiwo popularly called Yetunde Wunmi, who was arrested with 1.2kg of cocaine at Murtala Muhammed International Airport sometimes in 2006. Due to NDLEA’s shoddy prosecution, the woman was sentenced to just three (3) years behind the bar; curiously, with an option of N1 million fine, which she gladly paid and walked out of the courtroom a free citizen. This indicates that punishments meted out to drug convicts do not commensurate with offences committed, which in turn have not deterred others from going into the trade going by the rise in drug-related cases in our airports and seaports and, of course, victims of drug abuses that are increasing in geometrical progression, which could have in turn occasioned the increase in violent crimes in, otherwise, peace-loving Nigeria. No thanks to the Giade-led NDLEA!
Likewise, the Obayan report identified a connection between all the corrupt activities in the agency and some top players in the agency. To this end, it recommended the purging of the agency of some polluted hands especially those of the Directorate of Prosecutions who connived with convicts to evade appropriate punishments.
Top on the list of the officials fingered and recommended for compulsory disengagement was the Director of Prosecution and Legal Services, Mr. Femi Oloruntoba for heading a Directorate that connived with defence counsels to soften the ground for drug convicts to walk away with lighter sentences; and the former Head of Operations and General
Investigations, Mallam Bashir Gadzama, for his roles in prison evasion scams.
Contrary to expectation, Giade leadership saw nothing wrong in retaining most of the indicted NDLEA officials as it has been revealed that many of them are still holding vital positions in the agency. The Chairman, even in an interview with TELL sometimes last year, declared that the issues raised in the Obayan report “have been overtaken by events” and passed the buck of jail evasion crimes on prison officials, claiming it was them that illegally freed the convicts after signing the necessary papers.
However, the crux of the matter is the latest petition, written by the Chief Superintendent of Narcotics of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Taraba/Adamawa State Commands, Mr. Paul Audu, to President Goodluck Jonathan.
Audu, in the petition, a copy of which was made available to our Coalition, revealed weighty allegations against the Mallam Giade, who the petitioner accused of running the agency like a family business. Audu revealed that Giade’s romance with drug barons started in 2005 during the arrest of one Akindele Ikumoluyi popularly known as Ile Eru 1, who has been an internationally wanted drug baron but with intelligence at the disposal of the Agency, the suspect was arrested.
Mr. Audu was instrumental to the arrest and prosecution of the suspect and even to the tracking down of Ikumoluyi’s assets. But it was later discovered that Giade wasn’t happy about the arrest of the suspect as events thereafter began to show that Alhaji Giade did not take the arrest of Akindele kindly with Audu. And because further arrests of other drug barons may jeopardize his pecuniary interest, hence, Giade’s lack of interest and zeal in pursuing the arrest of the other barons waned despite the fact that Mr. Ikumoluyi was ready to assist the Agency with information that could lead to their arrest. It is therefore on record that Akindele whose arrest was masterminded by Officer Audu remains the only drug baron to be arrested in almost nine years of Alhaji Ahmadu Giade’s headship of the Agency as the Chairman/Chief Executive.
It has been revealed that many of the so-called arrests and prosecutions by the NDLEA are only those of the small fries (couriers) who are usually just victims of economic hardship. Information is only extracted from these drug couriers about their principals, who are the real drug barons, whom Alhaji Giade and his cronies put into use for their personal aggrandizement.
The situation has become so bad that there has been a somewhat accord between Alhaji Ahmadu Giade and his boys on the one hand and the barons who are willing to sacrifice a few of their couriers to be show-cased on the other, so that NDLEA will not come near them (the barons). The same way these barons dole out money in all currencies to mumble NDLEA’s investigative voice. This explains why NDLEA mischievously continues to celebrate the arrest of drug couriers on daily basis while they fail to answer the questions of: who funds the drug trade? What happens to the drug owners and the people receiving the drugs?
It must be emphasized that drug control paradigm globally has long shifted from quantitative to qualitative arrest. The arrest of a single notable baron is worth the arrest of two thousand couriers, but for the past eight years, Giade-led NDLEA cannot boast of the arrest and prosecution of any drug baron, apart from Akindele Ikumoluyi’s whom Mr. Paul Audu masterminded, at the very embryo of his (Alhaji Ahmadu Giade’s) administration”.
It is worthy to stress that the same Audu has been at the receiving end of Mallam Giade’s big stick as he was posted out of the Lagos State to Adamawa/Taraba State Commands immediately after Ikumoluyi took him (Audu) into confidence and promised to assist the Agency with some information that could lead to the arrest of other drug barons. The posting may be to prevent the dedicated officer from investigating and arresting other barons who lived in all the nooks and crannies of Lagos State.
It must also be noted that for the past seven years, Officer Audu has been stuck in Adamawa/Taraba. This runs contrary to NDLEA posting and transfer policy of moving officers, especially prosecutors around, after two to three years, for purpose of safety of life; above all, Mallam Giade has ensured the promotion of this officer is perpetually put in abeyance.
It is should also be noted that most of the landmark arrests and seizure made under this present administration so far came through “controlled delivery” which intelligence came through the Agency’s foreign collaborators, who supply it with information on drugs destined for Nigeria. It is because these collaborators are involved in the monitoring of the information and movement of the consignments that the NDLEA just had to intercept the consignments upon landing in Nigeria so as not to spark off obvious tale of compromise.
It is disheartening that Drug Barons are all over Nigeria swimming in the opulence of their illicit wealth, which is wreaking great havoc to the economy and man-power development, health and security conditions of this country as well as those of other countries with which they merchandise their goods of mass destruction – destroying human capitals that are sine-qua-non to positive national development. Nonetheless, Mallam Giade and his cronies are looking away from real drug criminals but preventing dedicated officers from performing their constitutional roles. Such ignoble act, to us at CACOL, is highly retrogressive, destructive, reprehensible and condemnable by all right-thinking Nigerians. It is unheard of that those that are paid from taxpayers’ sweat to fight the war against drugs are the very ones aiding and abetting the nefarious and destructive activities of the drug barons.
In the light of the above, CACOL is concerned that several years after the report of Justice Gilbert Obayan recommended the disengagement of some corrupt officials of the NDLEA, many of them are still in the workforce of the Agency being encouraged and protected by the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Mallam Ahmadu Giade, who possibly takes returns after perpetrating their evil trades. It is also regrettable that a dedicated officer could be so callously victimized just because he was ready to perform his duties without compromising standards.
CACOL therefore urges President Goodluck Jonathan to exhume the Obayan Report and ensures the implementation of its recommendations. We also suggest that another panel be set up to look into the petition sent to His Excellency, the President, by Mr. Paul Audu, an official of the NDLEA presently being victimised by Mallam Giade and his cronies while Audu’s victimization be stopped forthwith.
We are further, by this Conference, calling on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in line with the powers vested in the it especially Section 7 subsection (1) a and b, to investigate the NDLEA Chairman, Mallam Giade and the Agency’s top officials whether their lifestyles and extent of the properties are justified by their sources of income.
Thank you for listening.