Examining NDLEA’s Strides on Drug Control

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NDLEA Chairman, retired Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah

Chinedu Eze

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has remained unrelenting against drug use and trafficking in Nigeria and reports indicate that through actions and campaigns, it has curbed the activities of traffickers and marketers of the illicit substances in the country.

As the world marks International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the agency can be said to have achieved progress since it was established in 1990.

From this period to 2019, the agency has seized over 60,049,702.19 kg of cannabis, 22, 480.65 kg of cocaine, 3732. 41 kg of heroin and other types of drugs amounting to 446, 633.23kg, totaling 60524, 567. 31kg of drugs.

During this period NDLEA has arrested and persecuted drug traffickers made up of 147, 825 males and 10, 045 females, amounting to 157, 879.

THISDAY learnt that the agency’s fight against drugs gained higher traction since the appointment of the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the agency, Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah in January 2016, when NDLEA introduced new innovations in the drug fight by developing its intelligence and information gathering unit, curbing the production of the drugs locally and stemming international trafficking of the illicit substances.

NDLEA has reinvigorated its relationship with sister agencies globally and has gained the support of international agencies concerned with anti-drug trafficking and has also won the support of major countries of the world that have supported the Nigerian organisation with logistics and equipment.

Delivering a speech on Monday to mark the commemoration of the 2020 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking with the theme: ‘Best Knowledge for Better Care,’ Abdallah had said NDLEA has kept faith with its mandate assiduously.

He explained that cannabis cultivation has continued to attract, “our immediate attention because it is the most widely abused substance in Nigeria. In the year ending 2019, a total of 310.1 tons of Cannabis were seized and destroyed publicly.

“All together for that year, 612, 903.484 kilograms of drugs were seized. The arrest figures stand at 9,444 of drug related offenders. A total of 1,195 convictions were recorded, while 795 drug dependent persons were counseled.”
He also said drug trafficking was not abating during the lockdown.

“They continued with their nefarious trade not withstanding COVID-19. Some of the seizures made include 6, 465.23 kilograms of Cannabis enroute Kano at Kogi, 3, 962 kilograms of Cannabis enroute Kano at Benue, 1, 960 kilograms of Cannabis at Edo, 621. 0857 kilograms of Cannabis at Imo and 267.123 kilograms of Cannabis at Abia.

“I have over the years alerted and acquainted you with the frightening dimension of drug manufacturing in Nigeria. That was mainly in relation to Methamphetamine. We are at our wits end to discover more Meth Labs not necessarily because they do not exist.

“A new version of manufacturing has reared its head, the introduction of Hydrophonic outfit where Cannabis is manipulated into the production of Hashish and Canaboil, both of which are illegal since they contravene the extant NDLEA Act. Would you believe the locations?
“The first in Jos run by a Chinese and the second in Victoria Island, run by a mixed nationality person – Nigeria/German,” the NDLEA Chairman revealed.

He said the agency’s treatment and rehabilitation component of the Drug Demand Reduction Directorate is in dire need of upgrade, noting that medical attention given to drug dependent persons is often the last stage of the war.

“Along the course many battles must have been to won. These are the battles of intervention, education, sensitisation counseling and psychotherapy, which the agency is ably competent to perform given the in-house expertise available.

“What is lacking is the en-tooling and capacity building required. Time has come for competent treatment and rehabilitation centres to be fully built as anticipated by the NDLEA Act where psychotherapy and medical therapy should mutual reinforce each other,” Abdallah said.

He therefore called on the private sector to support what the federal government is doing to fight illicit drug trafficking and usage, adding that that agency has intensified rehabilitation of drug users and noted that this is an area where the private sector could give their support, stressing that medical attention given to drug dependent persons is often the last stage of the war.

“In addition to what the federal government brings to the table, as a nation we should identify and aggressively mobilise the public and private sectors and other strategic partners for a holistic response against the trafficking in and use of illicit substances.

“The essence would be to complement the federal government funding in the light of competing national interests. This appears to be a promising, sustainable thrust that could put a damper on the real pandemic of our own nation – the drug pandemic,” NDLEA Chairman said.