Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa rtd 1

Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (rtd.), Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), has revealed that the fight against drug abuse and trafficking has produced significant results in the last 29 months.

Under the time in review, he noted that 31,675 drug offenders have been arrested, among whom 5,147 have been prosecuted and found guilty.

Marwa in a statement issued by the spokesman of the Agency, Mr Femi Babafemi said more than than 6.3 million kilogrammes of various drugs have been seized during the same time.

The statement was issued on Monday at a joint press briefing with the Country Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime UNODC), Mr. Oliver Stolpe, to flag off weeklong ac­tivities marking the 2023 World Drug Day.

The annual event seeks “to mobilise resources, align policies, and inspire or­ganisations, communities, and nations to work in a particular direction to effectively tackle the challenges of illicit substances in society.”

Marwa said in the statement: “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 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 got convicted 5,147 of them, and over 11,000 other cases still pending in court, while 23,725 drug users had been counselled and rehabil­itated, 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, ND­LEA agents are busy with inter­diction activities somewhere.”

He pointed out that drug supply reduc­tion is only one of the components of the equation.

“Another crucial compo­nent is drug demand reduction, which operationally means pre­vention, treatment and reha­bilitation. It should go without saying that we must strike a bal­ance between these two crucial components if we are to achieve our desired utopia of a drug-free society.

According to him, the NDLEA has made signifi­cant investments in prevention, treatment and rehabilitation over the last two years.

He added that the doors of our rehabilitation facilities are open at all times, noting that the last 29 months, the agency has acquired a few more rehab centres, given to them as donations.

The agency has also ob­tained the Federal Government’s approval for the construction of regional model rehabs.

“More private treatment fa­cilities are also cooperating with NDLEA. To cap it all, NDLEA went above and beyond to invest in a toll-free, round-the-clock call centre that provides teletherapy.

“In summary, we have pri­oritised treatment, while our WADA advocacy initiative has taken a life of its own with our commands, formations and partnering civil society organi­sations taking sensitisation lec­tures and campaigns to schools, communities, worship places and many more across the coun­try every day.

He stressed that stigmatisation is one of the major thing dis­couraging drug users from seek­ing treatment.

“Stigmatisation and discrim­ination make recovery and rein­tegration difficult for drug-de­pendent users who submit themselves to treatment. And the prevalence of such an atti­tude is counterproductive to the effort, time, and resources invest­ed by governments, institutions, and corporate bodies working to contain the drug problem.

“This is what the year’s theme is about. We must rid ourselves of any bias against those who are drug-dependent to be able to support, expedite, and make permanent their recovery. The theme will serve as an impetus for us to make a collective effort to break down these invincible but formidable social barriers that undermine the attainment of the goal of a drug-free society.”

He expressed appreciation of the partnership between ND­LEA, NGOs, development part­ners, and the various groups, institutions, and relevant pro­fessionals in society, including media professionals, who have been very supportive of the re­newed war on drugs.

“I want to thank the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), especially for its unquantified support that has contributed to the rapid evolution of NDLEA. In the same vein, we are thankful to the European Union (EU) and the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, France, India and Germany, who have all boosted our capacity to cope with the demands of our mandate.

“To celebrate this year’s World Drug Day, we have a line-up of activities for the week, some of which will be conducted in partnership with our stake­holders like the UNODC and MTN Foundation. Some of the events are educational, like the essay and the quiz competitions. We have days set aside for events like the Walk Against Drugs, NGO activities, and a campaign to raise awareness, among young people who are not in school. The grand finale will be the ceremony at the state House on Monday, June 26”, he added.

In his remarks at the media briefing, UNODC Country Rep, Oliver Stolpe, emphasised the “benefits of international co­operation in criminal justice matters with a specific target of dismantling trafficking net­works involved in this terrible trade”, Stolpe said, adding that “long overdue is the need to make sure that the public and primary health care providers are better prepared to take basic drug counseling needs, knowing how to deal with people suffering from drug use disorders.”

He commended NDLEA for the successes recorded so far in the fight against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in the country

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