NDLEA laments inaccurate data on Nigerians jailed abroad for drugs

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THE National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) at the weekend lamented the inability of  Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Ministry to comply with the provisions of Section 45 of its Act, a development, which it said has resulted in non-accurate statistics of Nigerians in jail abroad for drug related offences.

Section 45 of the NDLEA Act mandates all Heads of Nigerian Diplomatic Missions abroad to furnish NDLEA with the statistics of Nigerians in jail abroad for drug related offences every six months.

NDLEA through its Director of Prosecution and Legal Services, Femi Oloruntoba said the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s failure to ensure compliance with the provisions of the law, has hampered the agency from gathering accurate statistics.

Oloruntoba stated this in Lagos at a workshop organised by the National Association of Judicial Correspondents (NAJUC).

The workshop was with the theme: “Government Agencies and Enabling Laws: Review Overview.”

Oloruntoba, who was represented by Yohanna Mshelia, an Assistant Director with the NDLEA, also accused some foreign countries of failing to co-operate with NDLEA in that regard.

According to him: “Lack of co-operation from some foreign countries particularly the Western World is also a major concern. These countries refuse to provide relevant information relating to Nigerians involved in drug trafficking in their countries on the grounds that double jeopardy exists in Nigeria – Decree 33 of 1990.”

Besides, Oloruntoba pointed out that the absence of drug enforcement officers in Nigerian Missions abroad also constitutes a major factor in the non-accurate statistics of Nigerians in foreign prisons.

According to the current statistics available to NDLEA, over 600 Nigerians were arrested in Thailand in 2002 for drug related offences, out of which 521 were transferred to Nigeria between 2003 and 2008.

Russia arrested about 229 Nigerians in 2001 and none has been transferred to Nigeria, while between 2003 and 2004, Indonesia arrested 40 Nigerians out of which none has been transferred to Nigeria.

In 2004, 25 Nigerians were arrested for drug related offences in Italy and none of these Nigerians has been transferred back to the country.

Oloruntoba added that in Pakistan, only statistics of Karachi Prison was available, and the said statistics revealed that 226 Nigerians were arrested for drug related offences in 2006.

According to him: “A better statistics may be available with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At present, what the agency has are figures obtained when on visit to the relevant countries.”

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