The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has disclosed that the fight against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking has yielded significant results in the last 29 months with the arrest of 31,675 drug offenders.
The NDLEA added that of the 31,675 arrested offenders, 5, 147 were prosecuted and convicted, while over 6.3 million kilogrammes of assorted drugs were seized within the same period.
This was as the agency charged citizens to stop the stigmatisation of drug users, adding that it discourages them from seeking treatment, which in turn has serious socio-economic repercussions for individuals and their families.
The Secretary, NDLEA, Mr Shadrach Haruna, who represented the Chairman, Buba Marwa, made this known in Abuja on Monday during a joint press briefing with the country representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Mr Oliver Stolpe, to flag off weeklong activities marking the 2023 World Drug Day.
Haruna said, “This year’s theme, ‘People First: Stop Stigma and Discrimination, Strengthen Prevention,’ is in furtherance of the whole-of-society approach to taming the drug scourge. This theme is especially pertinent to the Nigerian situation at the moment.
“In the past two and a half years, we have strengthened our law enforcement efforts to cut down on the supply of drugs in society. In 29 months, we have arrested 31,675 drug offenders, including 35 barons; successfully prosecuted and convicted 5,147 of them; and over 11,000 other cases still pending in court, while 23,725 drug users have been counselled and rehabilitated, the majority of them through brief interventions.
“At least 6.3 million kilogrammes of various illicit substances have been recovered in response to our efforts to sweep up drugs and shut down the distribution channels. We have destroyed 852.142 hectares of cannabis farms and dismantled three clandestine methamphetamine laboratories. I can assure you that even as we speak, NDLEA agents are busy with interdiction activities somewhere.”
He further noted that drug supply reduction is, however, only one of the components of the equation, noting that another crucial component is drug demand reduction, which operationally means prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.
In his remark, Stolpe emphasised the benefits of international cooperation in criminal justice matters, with the specific target of dismantling trafficking networks involved in the terrible trade.
“Long overdue is the need to make sure that the public and primary healthcare providers are better prepared to take basic drug counselling needs, knowing how to deal with people suffering from drug use disorders,” Mr Stolpe said while commending the NDLEA for the successes recorded so far in the fight against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in Nigeria.