Paul Obi in Abuja

A new report released weekend in Abuja by the United Nations (UN) indicated that there has been a prevailing increase of illicit manufacturing of narcotics and psychotropic drugs and substances in Nigeria.

The report which was funded under the auspices of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) found out that “in Nigeria, three laboratories illicitly manufacturing methamphetamine were dismantled in May, 2015, bringing to 10 the total number of such laboratories dismantled in that country since 2011.

“Nigerian authorities have discovered what appear to be the sites of a number recently evacuated methamphetamine laboratories, suggesting that traffickers have been operating a chain of laboratories that are moved in order to avoid detection.

“The trend noted in 2013 whereby the sites of the laboratories identified up to May 2015 were located in Anambra State, in South Eastern Nigeria. In most of the methamphetamine laboratories seized in Nigeria, only traces of the key precursor, ephedrine, were found and the sources of the chemicals were generally not known,” the report said.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) County Representative to Nigeria, Cristina Albertin explained that there is need for concerted efforts to checkmate the illicit manufacturing of psychotropic substances.

Albertin observed that Nigeria has a critical role to play in that regard, adding that, the organisation was ready to support assist government to fight the menace. To that end, the federal government and UNODC pledged to combat abuse of prescription medicines in the country.

Acting Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration Control (NAFDAC) Mrs. Yetunde Oluremi Oni said: “We are aware of persistent and emerging challenges regarding drug problems in Nigeria and are working assiduously with relevant stakeholders to address the problem.

“The Pre – Export Notification Online, an initiative of the INCB is therefore an effective tool for monitoring the international movement of precursor. Drug abuse particularly the abuse of prescription medicines continues to be a threat to public health. Government is in the process of conducting a national drug use survey,” Oni said.

Chairman and CEO of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Col. Muhammad Abdullah (rtd) stated that “the low level of commercial and pharmacological regulation and a frequent lack of trade monitoring and weak customs capacities in many African countries compared to those in other regions of the world.”

Abdullah further observed that “as a result, new precursor routes and reshipment operations are expected to continue to emerge in Africa. We must continue to address these challenges and maximise opportunities towards effective control of illicit drugs,” the NDLEA boss maintained.