The Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Ahmadu Giade has described as worrisome the large numbers of Nigerians in foreign prisons.
Giade who spoke at a media briefing in Abuja to commemorate the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking said that the situation was now demanding the intervention of stakeholders as most of the drug convicts in foreign countries left the country in search of greener pastures but ended up smuggling drugs and giving the country a bad image.
According to the Chairman, the Agency intercepted a total of 66,273kg of narcotics from drug cartels including 113.49kg of high grade heroin imported from Islamabad, Pakistan through the Tincan Island Port in Lagos.
According to the Agency, 3,028 suspected drug traffickers were also apprehended while 686 culprits were successfully prosecuted since January 2012.
The seized drugs include 64,966.092kg of Cannabis, 1,134.2kg of Psychotropic substances, 131.196kg of Heroin and 42.293kg of Cocaine. Cannabis farm land measuring 141.019 hectares were also destroyed. In addition, the Agency has so far publicly destroyed a total of 20,204.477kg of forfeited narcotics in Ogun, Benue and Kwara States since January 2012.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) country representative Ms Mariam Sissoko said that the UNODC was partnering with the NDLEA in the fight against illicit drugs in the country.
She said: “The UNODC has a good working relationship with the Agency in tracing precursor chemicals and execution of drug abuse preventive programmes.”
Giade explained that the United Nations had dedicated June 26 to the campaign for a world that is devoid of drug trafficking and abuse.
In his words:“This practice dates back to December 7, 1987 when the United Nations General Assembly, through resolution 42/112, took the bold initiative. The ultimate goal is to strengthen action and cooperation towards a world free from drug trafficking and abuse. It is our annual flagship event to sensitise members of the public on the hazards of drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking”.
Giade listed the gains of drug control in the country to include United States Government delisting of Nigeria from the Drug Majors List and impressive operational results due to strict drug law enforcement also announced the theme of the celebration.
The theme as chosen by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is Global Action for Healthy Communities without Drugs.
The Agency also promised not to relent in the drug war. “Our strict compliance with law enforcement procedures has further weakened drug syndicates in the country. The borders will remain impregnable to drug traffickers. Nigeria will continue to win the war against drug barons and the tempo must be sustained. Drug barons must not smile to the bank while humanity is left groaning under the yoke of drug addiction and insecurity” Giade assured.
He stressed that the battle to make Nigeria, a drug-free one, was an all-important fight. “Drug abuse is a problem that cuts across countries. Drug lords always seek to weaken institutions of governments for their selfish reasons. They recruit gullible and material seeking individuals as drug mules. Interestingly, regular arrests and seizures of illicit drugs have kept them under control” the NDLEA boss stated.
The Agency noted that the country in the past two years has risen up to a new twist by drug barons following the discoveries of two clandestine laboratories in Lagos.
“The trend is worrisome because drug barons now use residential houses for the illegal production of methamphetamine. Already the suspected operators of the drug production laboratories including three Bolivians have been charged to court.”
Giade promised to meticulously prosecute all persons arrested in connection with drug trafficking.
In his words.“The NDLEA Act empowered the Agency with special powers to coordinate all drug control functions. It also stipulates 15 years minimum and 25 years maximum sentence for unlawful possession of popularly known drugs like Cocaine, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), Heroin, Cannabis and similar drugs. All persons arrested will be diligently prosecuted”.
The knowledge of the dangers of drug abuse and addiction is crucial. Many people have fallen victim of drug misuse due to ignorance of the effects of drugs. Others were influenced by peers and close associates into taking rash decisions that made them drug addicts.
Adequate public enlightenment is vital in attitudinal change campaign.
We must discourage demand for drugs in order to render the narcotic trade less lucrative and demoralise drug cartels from drug production and trafficking.
Significant progress has been recorded in the infusion of anti-drug abuse education into school curriculum. The Agency has attained 90 percent success in primary and secondary schools while that of tertiary institutions is over 50 percent. Drug addiction has no respect for social status or class. The NDLEA therefore calls for collaboration.
The weeklong programme of activities includes children/youth talk shows and drama competitions as well as anti-drug rallies. There will also be thanksgiving services in churches and mosques across the country. In addition, there shall be advocacy visits to opinion leaders and traditional leaders.