HARD drug peddling and abuse is a worldwide phenomenon. It was in recognition of this fact that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, was established. It facilitates the sharing of information on the drug menace among countries.
The Vienna, Austria-based UNODC in June this year, reported that in 2020, 270 million people used psychoactive drugs which are universally banned. Out of this, 35 million people are suffering from disorders associated with the use and abuse of such drugs.
Here in Nigeria, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, which is in charge of efforts to keep Nigeria drug-free, says that 14.3 million Nigerians live under banned drugs such as cannabis, opiates, cocaine, heroin, tramadol, codeine and other unbelievable concoctions that are cheaply available among indigent, unemployed youth.
The abuse of these drugs and substances drive violent crimes such as terrorism, banditry, ritual killings, cultism, political thuggery, armed robbery, kidnapping and others, which have made Nigeria insecure, unstable and difficult to live in.
After a relative lull, the NDLEA appears fully recharged to confront the menace. It is not surprising that the Agency’s activities have picked up tempo since the beginning of this year when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed a former Lagos State Military Administrator, retired Brigadier- General Mohammed Buba Marwa, as the NDLEA Director General.
In this year alone, the agency has arrested 9,181 drug peddlers, seized 7,776,000 kilogrammes of drugs and hauled in N100 billion in drugs and cash. Also, 3,232 cases are in court while 1,630 convictions have been achieved. Meanwhile, the agency claims it has rehabilitated 4,269 abusers.
Easily the most important issue achieved during this period was offsetting of N200 million accumulated “burial expenses” of 188 officers killed while on active duty. Some of entitlements had not been paid for upwards of 10 to 15 years! Being a career uniformed officer, President Buhari responded proactively to Marwa’s persistent quests for the payment of these entitlements. As expected, this has recharged the commitment of officers to their jobs.
It is this sort of system failure that has made it impossible for our armed forces, police and security agencies to overcome rag-tag jihadist terror groups. When officers are ill-equipped and poorly motivated, they will lack the drive to carry out their constitutional mandates.
The NDLEA should continue to gear up, more so as we are about to enter 2022/2023 general elections season. If the agency remains on top of its work, more Nigerians will be safer from violent criminals.