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NDLEA arrests over 48,000 drug traffickers in 3yrs

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

Over 48,000 people have been arrested by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for trafficking drugs and other banned substance within the borders of Nigeria in the last three years.

A breakdown of the statistics revealed that 46 individuals arrested were drug barons on the agency’s wanted list while 8,350 have been successfully prosecuted and convicted by the court.

Meanwhile, 7,500 tons of illicit drugs were seized from them and 1,057 hectares of cannabis farms destroyed deep in the forests in parts of the country.

The Chairman, NDLEA, Brig Gen. Buba Marwa (Retd) disclosed this when the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nation, Amina Mohammed, paid a courtesy visit to the Agency’s headquarters in Abuja.

While appreciating the UN deputy scribe for the visit, Marwa said “We’re indeed pleased to have you visit us. This will go on record as the first visit in history to NDLEA by the highest echelon of the United Nations. We not only commend you for this but also in equal measure your string of impressive achievements, whether when you served as Minister at home or at the global stage where you’re currently serving as Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations. Thank you for being a shining light and a good ambassador of not only Nigeria, but the African continent and indeed the black race world over.”

He noted that the twin problem of substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking remains one of the ferocious threats to public health and national security despite the significant efforts being made by NDLEA in the areas of drug supply reduction and drug demand reduction in Nigeria.

“With the dire consequences of the menace steering us in the face, upon my assumption of leadership in 2021, we have moved swiftly to halt the spiral turn of the situation and between then and end of 2023, we have been able to make over 48,157 arrests including 46 drug barons with a total of 8,350 already successfully prosecuted and convicted while 7,500 tons of illicit drugs were seized from them and 1,057 hectares of cannabis farms destroyed deep in the forests in parts of the country .

“On the other part of our mandate, we have equally put in place a strong mechanism to raise public awareness about the dangers of drug abuse. This we do through our War Against Drug Abuse, WADA, a social advocacy campaign initiative. In addition, we provide treatment and counselling to users in our commands across the country, through which we have been able to counsel and treat over 29, 400 persons within the same period.

“This is why your coming today affords us the opportunity to share with you some of the things you can use your good office and the huge platform of the UN to facilitate to enhance what we are doing and plan to achieve. They include but not limited to the following: Conduct of another drug use survey that will give us a better assessment of where we’re now six years after the last survey; procurement of mechanical tools to destroy cannabis farms as against the current manual system; procurement of incinerators to destroy tons of illicit drugs seized as against the current open air burning which is not good for the environment and public health; support for our Alternative Development programme and modern forensic equipment needed in our old and new labs”, among others.

Earlier, Muhammad assured the anti-drug of UN support to succeed in its onerous task of curbing the menace of substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in Nigeria.

According to her, “On behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, we want to reconfirm our support from the United Nations to the work of this agency. It is extremely important, this is coming at a time where the challenges are more complex. The Chairman has spoken about the needs, and we are very pleased to hear that everyone is doing a very good job and we hope that we can increase the impact.

“From our conversation with the Chairman, the issue is clear, it involves many other sectors. We talked about the root causes, and the escape is often drugs. That is why it is important for us to work with the rest of government to ensure that all people have a right to their dignity. I see this agency as a symbol that wants to do the job, to succeed. This is a challenge we will be here to support.”

The UN Chief commended Marwa for providing NDLEA exemplary leadership. “I just have to commend the leadership you have here, the leadership we have known for a very long time. When we were much younger, we used to look up to the Soldier Marwa, that led from the front with example and discipline. We see the discipline now in your officers as we walk into the office and there is a difference. We need more of that.”

“This is the only country that we have. And we must harness the potential through the work that we do. What we want to do is support with whatever that we can, to ensure a greater and better Nigeria that takes its position not only in Africa but worldwide”, she added.

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