The Federal Government said it retained a small portion of the seized cocaine to use as evidence in court.
The Federal Government has justified the decision of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to incinerate the N194bn worth of cocaine it seized from a drug racket in the Ikorodu area of Lagos.
What happened: Pulse reports that NDLEA operatives on Sunday, September 18, 2022, burst a warehouse in Solebo Estate, Ikorodu, where it found 1.8 tons (1,855 kilogrammes) of the illicit drugs and arrested four drug barons, including a Jamaican and the warehouse manager.
The NDLEA said the seized cocaine worth about Two Hundred and Seventy-Eight Million, Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($278, 250,000), an equivalent of about One Hundred and Ninety-Four Billion, Seven Hundred and Seventy-Five Million (N194, 775,000,000) Naira in street value.
NDLEA destroyed drugs: However, the anti-narcotic agency on Tuesday, September 27, 2022, released videos and photos of a scene where the seized drugs were being incinerated.
Nigerians allege foul play: The move raised suspicions among some Nigerians who opined that the illicit drugs should’ve been kept as an evidence against the arrested suspects.
FG clears the air: Reacting to the development, the Attorney-General of the Federation Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, explained that the substance had to be destroyed because it carried no economic value.
He said this while addressing State House Correspondents shortly after the weekly Council meeting chaired by the President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday, September 28, 2022.
Malami revealed that although a small portion of the drugs was retained as court evidence, the majority were set ablaze because the government could not find any other legal use for it.
Malami’s word: “They were burnt because we are not drug dealers, our obligation is to ensure that they are eliminated and stopped from circulating in the system. There should be evidence and the evidence are there, accordingly profiled before being destroyed.”
“Even the Chairman mentioned it, they retained a little to us in court, but destroyed most of it and was witnessed by the people that carried it. It was also in the news that was carried.
“Most of it was destroyed and I think somebody was saying why should they destroy something worth N194b, but if the government were to start trading that, we’ll become drug dealers as well. We cannot derive an economic benefit from it, but to destroy it, because you don’t want drugs circulating.”