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Drug abuse, illicit drug trafficking worse than insurgency, banditry –Buhari

…5 drug barons nabbed, says Marwa

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the challenges of drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking are deadlier than those of insurgency, banditry and other threats to national security.

 

Buhari made this assertion Saturday at the launching of the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA), an initiative of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in commemoration of the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking at the Presidential Villa.

 

The President, who was Special Guest of Honour at the launch, also charged the NDLEA to intensify efforts at ridding the vast forests of the Southwest and South-South regions of the country of criminal elements, which had made the places their hideouts, from where they launch criminal onslaughts as well as for farming cannabis. Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Buhari said: “I am directing the NDLEA to develop a robust risk-communication and community engagement strategy that will not only disseminate the four pillars of the plan to responsible entities, but also deal with destroying production sites and laboratories, break the supply  chain, discourage drug use and prosecute offenders as well as traffickers, rehabilitate addicts and enforcement of relevant laws.

 

“I want to particularly draw the attention of the agency to the fact that the use of many of our forests as criminal hideouts is because large swathes of cannabis plantations are hidden deep within those forests, especially in the Southwest and the South- South.

 

“You may therefore, need to drive these criminal elements from such hideouts because they use it for the growth of these plants and also as a repository for criminal elements to conclude and plan their adventures on our people.”

 

While assuring that his government would continue to address the underlying causes of drug abuse, including poverty reduction, Buhari appreciated the stakeholders and international collaborators, especially the European Union, and the United Nations Office for Drugs and Control, for their unwavering support to his drug control efforts.

 

He continued: “Let me say that this war is more deadly than the insurgency we have in the Northeastern part of the country or the acts of banditry in the Northwest or the acts of kidnapping that transcends all the geopolitical zones  of this country, because it is a war that is destroying three generations, because I’ve seen clips of where grandparents are on drugs, parents are on drugs, and by extension, their wards, their children are on drugs.

 

So, it is more deadly than even the security challenges that we are having in this country and I strongly believe that every effort must be put in place to ensure that we deal with the issues of substance abuse and trafficking and manufacture so that we can get to the root cause.”

 

Chairman of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), on his part, put the value of cash and drugs seized in the past five months since he came on board at over N90 billion, even as he added that over 2,180 traffickers have been arrested, including five drug barons controlling different cartels across Nigeria.

 

He added that statistics revealed that Nigeria remains the highest users of cannabis worldwide, adding that information from kidnapped victims have collaborated the facts that illicit substances are enablers of insecurity currently plaguing the country.

 

The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, lamented that the world drug problem remains an urgent challenge that threatens to exacerbate damage impact and to hinder a healthy recovery.

 

Represented by the Country Representative United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Oliver Stolpe, Guterre urged law enforcement agents to go after the criminals at the upper level of the drug trafficking chain who reap the highest profit and wreak the greatest havoc.

 

Guterres said the 2021 world drug report of the UN shows that death and crime attributed to disorders have nearly doubled over the past decade noting that new HIV/AIDS infections among adults have declined worldwide but not among people who inject drugs, which accounts for 10 percent of new infections in 2019.

 

He disclosed that international cooperation has helped to limit the proliferation of new psychoactive substances noting that the problem is shifting to poorer regions where control systems are weaker, drug sales continue to rise and non-medical use of pharmaceuticals such as Tramadol and Codeine is expanding.

 

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