Drug addicts, COVID-19 infection

–Commends NDLEA efforts in fight against narcotics

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

The African Council on Narcotics, ACON, has for the umpteenth time called for the establishment of a specialized agency that can cater to the growing number of drug addicts in the country.

The group has also commended Nigeria’s apex illicit drug interdiction body, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, for its unrelenting efforts in the war against narcotics and psychotropic substances.

ACON President, Rekpene Bassey in a statement made available to Sunday Vanguard in Abuja, noted with deep delight the recent operation by the agency in what appeared to be the biggest single cocaine seizure in the history of the NDLEA on Sunday, September 18, 2022.

Recall that the NDLEA, after cordoning off, successfully raided a major warehouse in a secluded estate in the Ikorodu area of Lagos State where 1.8 tons, or about 1855 kilograms, of the drug were impounded, whose street value is estimated at $278,250,000, or the equivalent of N149.7 billion.

Expressing delight in the successes of the Gen. Buba Marwa-led agency, Bassey said, “The only other time that the agency made such a huge seizure was on December 23, 1993, when one Joe Brown Akubueze was arrested for importing 258 kilograms of heroin in 649 packs from Bangkok, neatly wrapped in transparent polythene and embossed with the figure 666, whose street value was estimated at N44 billion through the Apapa Wharf in Lagos.

“Needless to say, last Sunday’s operation was well coordinated following a string of undercover investigations and actionable intelligence. Consequently, several drug barons have been apprehended in the operation. Some of those apprehended include Kevin Smith, a Jamaican citizen, along with his Nigerian collaborators.

“However, while the agency is being commended, several questions come to the fore. For instance, how, when, and from where did such large quantities of narcotics get into the country?

“Another question is related to these two. Could these drugs have been produced in Nigeria? The answer is obviously no, because coca plants, from which cocaine is produced, are not cultivated and processed in Nigeria.

“Assuming therefore that the drug was smuggled into the country, why was it that the various security operatives representing official security agencies at our air, land, and marine borders were not able to prevent it from being smuggled into the country?

“Another question is, could there be other secret drug depots in other locations within the country? And it could also be asked further why it took so long to uncover and execute the Ikorodu raid.

“All that said, we seize the opportunity to request that thorough investigations be conducted to unearth all relevant facts and possibly obtain other leads on the subject.”

ACON boss advised the federal government to re-double its determination backed by political will in the fight against illicit drugs given the high rate of prevalence of substance abuse and the debilitating damage it is causing among our youth, many of whom have taken to the drug culture.

“This is besides other damaging sociological consequences of the drug scourge on the nation,” he said.

He further said, “we urge institutions such as the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, and other government agencies to strengthen control and preventive measures to reduce the availability of dangerous drugs derived from pharmaceutical products.

“Moreover, we would like to take this opportunity to reiterate our call for the establishment of a specialized agency that can cater to the growing number of drug addicts in our society.”

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