Tinubu, NDLEA winning the drug war

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By Ibironke Ariyo, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Drug and substance abuse, trafficking, and related criminal activities remain serious problems that affect the lives of a sizable number of Nigerians and are the most pervasive problems facing the nation currently.

The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) supported Drug Use Survey in Nigeria has revealed a drug use prevalence of 14.4 per cent in Nigerians aged between 15 and 64 years, almost three times the global drug use prevalence of 5.5 per cent.

Drug use is most common among those between the ages of 25 and 39 years, and the survey also found that a total of almost 3 million persons suffered from drug use disorder.

These statistics have since earned Nigeria a bad image globally with Nigerian travellers subjected to untoward treatments during international travels.

Worried by this negative reputation, President Bola Tinubu in concert with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, designed a scheme that combined prevention, treatment, and enforcement to break the cycle of substance abuse and crime.

During the 2023 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Tinubu said his administration would work closely with the NDLEA and its international partners to fight the menace of drug abuse.

He urged stakeholders to take a people-centred approach in addressing drug addiction, saying addicts were also humans who deserved understanding and support to recover from the downward path of drugs.

“I want to assure everyone including our local and international partners of this administration’s unwavering support for the sustenance of drug control efforts,” he had said.

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The president also said interventions to address drug use and its associated consequences must recognise the individual and address the social stigma that comes with the menace.

He said persons struggling with drug abuse often faced barriers in accessing health care and social services within the society in addressing their drug use problems.

Therefore, he said interventions to address drug use and its associated consequences must be mindful of such individuals.

According to him, stigma, both social and structural, which is one of the most common barriers to access support and services must be removed.

He urged stakeholders to educate themselves and others on the dangers of drug abuse and the need to stop the stigmatisation and discrimination.

“We must empower our youths with the knowledge and skills they need to make informed decisions about their lives and the resources they need to avoid falling prey to drugs,” Tinubu said.

The NDLEA has since launched nationwide enforcement activities to seize drugs and arrest drug abusers.

The agency has also increased its sensitisation programme, rehabilitation, and border patrol to checkmate trafficking of illicit drugs to and from Nigeria.

The NDLEA has executed a relentless campaign against drug trafficking networks, resulting in unprecedented successes.

The agency’s recent report reveals the arrest of 52, 901 drug peddlers/traffickers including 48 barons, and the conviction of 9,034.

The report included seizures of more than 7,561,000kg of illicit drugs, N958 billion worth of cash and drugs seized across the 36 states and FCT.

The NDLEA FCT commander, Kabir Tsakuwa, said in 2023 alone, the agency arrested more than 500 suspects with more than 7,000 kilograms of assorted drug seizure as well as the conviction of more than 200 offenders.

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Tsakuwa said in the first quarter of 2024, the agency arrested about 80 suspects, with more than 3, 000 kilograms of assorted drugs.

He said more than 50 individuals were prosecuted as 12 suspects were successfully convicted and sentenced to different jail terms.

The NDLEA’s efforts extend beyond mere enforcement, as demonstrated by their proactive approach to combating drug cultivation through initiatives such as the search-and-destroy campaign against cannabis plantations.

This approach had seen the destruction of more than 1,057.33348 hectares of cannabis farms.

The agency has also counselled and rehabilitated more than 32,404 drug users, with 948 houses, vehicles and other assets forfeited to the federal government.

Meanwhile, the Chairman /CEO of the NDLEA, retired Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa, lauded the president for his continuous support for the on-going efforts to curb the scourge of substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in the country.

Marwa noted that the present administration had shown nothing but support to the agency in the fight against illicit drugs and substance abuse, peddling/trafficking.

Marwa noted that the agency was looking forward to some positive developments that would lend impetus to the attainment of its set objectives under the leadership of President Tinubu.

“One of such developments is the amendment of the NDLEA Act, which will significantly enhance the organisational capability of our agency in drug supply reduction.

“The hearing of the amended bill is making progress in the National Assembly, and we look forward to it scaling the final hurdle,” he said.

Tsakuwa also commended the Tinubu administration, saying his support to the agency assisted the command in recording a high level of success in the effort to rid the FCT of drug menace.

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Similarly, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has celebrated the achievements of the NDLEA proclaiming it as a source of pride for President Tinubu’s administration.

HURIWA commended the accomplishments of NDLEA, recognising them as the most significant in its history and a testament to effective leadership and strategic partnerships.

“NDLEA under Marwa’s leadership is a beacon of excellence and a source of pride for President Tinubu’s administration,” the group said.

The association noted that the agency’s achievements under Marwa reflected concerted efforts toward realising the government’s commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of all Nigerians.

NDLEA’s proactive measures, including the open destruction of seized illicit drugs in compliance with court orders, demonstrate transparency and accountability in its operations,” HURIWA said. (NANFeatures)

** If used, please credit the writer and the News Agency of Nigeria.

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