On Monday, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency confirmed the arrest of 31,675 suspects in Nigeria for drug-related offences in the previous 29 months.
During the same time period, the NDLEA reported that 5,147 of the 31,675 arrested offenders were prosecuted and convicted, and that over 6.3 million kilogrammes of various drugs were seized.
Shadrach Haruna, the Secretary of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, who represented the agency’s Chairman, Buba Marwa, confirmed the development on Monday during a joint press briefing with the country’s representative to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Oliver Stolpe, to kick off a weeklong celebration of 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, the 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, adding that another crucial component was drug demand reduction, which operationally meant 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.