Just a few days ago, precisely June 26, the world marked the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
On that day, you would vividly recall President Muhammadu Buhari stating that the war against drugs is dangerous than that against insurgency and banditry, owing to the findings that the illicit consumption of such items has slated three generations for destruction.
Shockingly, in Nigeria, within the past five months, reports have it that, so far, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, confiscated over Ninety Billion Naira worth of illicit drugs.
Now due to the scary statistics on youths’ misconduct and misbehaviours of some adults consuming stimulating substances, the Nigerian Government carried out measures to initiate a project called War Against Drug Abuse, WADA, knowing that these drugs can be deadly and capable of triggering violent episodes.
Note that NDLEA, established by Decree Number 48 of 1989, is charged with eliminating the growing, processing, manufacturing, selling, exporting, and trafficking of hard drugs in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, while it might be challenging to end the illegal consumption of these banned substances, experts have advised that eradicating the act should not be left to Government alone but also well-meaning and influential citizens in the country.
These citizens may also include coordinating Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, professional associations, religious organisations, academia, and one’s immediate families and friends, community leaders and individuals, to work for the common good to rid communities of drug trafficking.
Tackling the Rise in Drug Abuse
On the part of the Government, the key agency responsible for the campaign against drug abuse was directed to interrupt the supply chain of cartels, and in extension, attempt to tackle the problem of human trafficking, which is also on the rise.
“NDLEA should also break the supply chain, discourage drug use and prosecute offenders as well as traffickers, rehabilitate addicts and enforce relevant laws.
“I want to particularly draw the attention of the agency to the fact that the use of many of our forests as criminal hideouts is because large swathes of cannabis plantations are hidden deep within those forests.” President Buhari instructed.
Giving updates on the situation of other related vices, NDLEA’s Director-General, DG, Mohammad Buba Marwa, revealed his agency arrested over Two Thousand, One Hundred and Eighty Traffickers, plus five drug barons coordinating several other cartels in various parts of the nation.
But there is more to these discoveries, the NDLEA, according to a report from the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, recorded over Two Million Kilograms of drugs intercepted from smugglers. At the same time, the agency has under its custody – Two †housand, One Hundred drug offenders prosecuted, and exactly Five Hundred are to serve time in prison following various court rulings.
The severity of this misuse and abuse of drugs prompted the United Nations to coin a direct message to victims of this act. The 2021 theme in commemoration of the day is “Share the Facts on Drugs, Save Lives.”
The truth is while NDLEA’s outings may be commendable to an extent, there’s still a need to adhere to the UN’s advice if ever Nigeria genuinely intends to address the rising cases of drug abuse and misuse.
UN Prescribed Measures
The suggestion from Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, represented by Oliver Stolpe, the Country Representative of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, is that Nigeria’s law enforcement agents should consider going after the criminals at the upper level of the drug trafficking chain.
Another great piece of advice to the Government on tackling this menace is that from Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Contributing his quota to the whole discussion, Gbajabiamila urged President Buhari to improve human resources by recruiting 10,000 personnel for the NDLEA to address the agency’s workforce problem.
The Speaker, represented by Francis Agwu, Chairman of House Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, stressed that NDLEA is currently “understaffed, underfunded and ill-equipped,” adding that their weapons were in their possession were used during the civil war.
At the moment, the House of Representatives has commenced proceedings to amend the Police Trust Fund Act, which would guarantee other policing agencies enjoy carrying modern arms and ammunition.