By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Nigeria’s anti-narcotics agency, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Bayelsa State Command, on Friday disclosed that it had arrested 24 suspected drug traffickers in Bayelsa State.
Spokesman of the NDLEA in the state, Mr. Ikenna Osakwe, said in a statement in Yenagoa yesterday that the suspects, 20 males and four females, were intercepted within the metropolis and on the popular East-West Road.
Osakwe, a Superintendent of Narcotics and Principal Staff Officer, Public Affairs, said during the period, a total 8.706kg of illicit hard drugs were seized.
The body bemoaned the rising cases of illegal drugs consumption in the state, noting that psychotropic substances, (drugs that provide pleasure or ameliorate pain, and may cause physical dependence and tolerance) had become a source of worry for the agency.
According to the NDLEA, it had even become more worrisome that young girls and pregnant women had recently been involving themselves in the illegal act.
“It is worthy of note that of the above quantities, Cannabis Sativa and psychotropic substances accounted for a substantial part of the recovered illicit drugs.
“It is becoming worrisome that adolescents and youths are adopting novel means of substance abuse in our communities which has led to the rise in illegal sale and consumption of psychotropic substances in the state”, he added.
Osakwe called on parents and guardians to increase their vigilance and monitor their children and wards closely both at home and in the school.
He added, “This is to ensure timely intervention where substance abuse is noticed. They are also encouraged to avail themselves of information on latest trends in substance abuse to ensure possible identification where and when it occurs.
“Irrespective of the fact that criminality is not the exclusive reserve of any sex, it is becoming increasingly regrettable that women who should be home and by extension, nation builders, are becoming more involved in illicit drug dealing.
“This raises even more concern when the women in question are mothers or expectant mothers”, he noted.
The body called on the State Ministry of Women Affairs as well as other female rights advocacy groups and organisations to partner with the command to enlighten and sensitise the female folk on the dangers of illegal drugs consumption.
The agency also advised the general public to desist from accepting parcels, consignments or luggage from friends and relatives for onward conveyance without consciously and painstakingly ascertaining the contents.
According to the body, investigation had shown that individuals had unknowingly become drug mules or couriers for friends and relatives.
He noted that ignorance of the law was not and could not be a mitigating argument and such actions could not only be perceived as carelessness, but even criminal negligence.
“All well-meaning residents of Bayelsa State are also encouraged to maintain vigilance in their communities and report illegal drug activities to the Command for prompt action,” said the agency.