The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, has arrested no fewer than 31,675 drug offenders, including 35 barons in 29 months.
The NDLEA Chairman, Buba Marwa said this at a briefing to mark the 2023 United Nations Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking, on Monday in Abuja.
Marwa was represented by the agency’s Secretary, Mr Shadrach Haruna.
Haruna told the press, “In 29 months, we have arrested 31, 675 drug offenders, including 35 barons; successfully prosecuted and got convicted 5,147 of them.
“Over 11,000 other cases are 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 kilograms of various illicit substances have been recovered in response to our efforts to sweep up drugs and shut down the distribution channels,” Marwa said.
He added that the Agency had within the period 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, “ the chairman said.
Marwa also said that the Agency was pursuing drug supply reduction with drug demand reduction, which has to do with prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of drug users.
“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.
“NDLEA has made significant investments in prevention, treatment and rehabilitation over the last two years. The doors of our rehabilitation facilities are open at all times.
“In the last 29 months, we have acquired a few more rehabilitation centres given to us as donations, while we have also obtained the Federal Government’s approval for the construction of regional model rehabs.”
He added that more private treatment facilities were cooperating with NDLEA, which has also invested in a “toll-free, round-the-clock call centre that provides teletherapy”.
On the UN Day against drug abuse and trafficking, Marwa said the theme, “People First: Stop Stigma and Discrimination, Strengthen Prevention,” was in furtherance of the whole-of-society approach to taming the drug scourge.
According to him, the theme is especially pertinent to the Nigerian situation, as the Agency strengthens law enforcement efforts to cut down on the supply of drugs in society.
Speaking, the Country Representative, United Nations Office On Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), Mr Oliver Stolpe said that the organisation would strengthen collaborations and efforts towards drug demand reduction.
Stolpe said there were millions of children to be reached on the dangers of drug abuse, adding that the NDLEA had worked hard on the campaign against drug abuse and illicit trafficking.
“We have increasingly watched how NDLEA has worked so hard to detect drug trafficking. We will place specific attention on drug demand reduction.
“We are going to further strengthen our collaboration and efforts to increase the benefits of international cooperation with the specific target at reducing drug trafficking with the help of NDLEA.
“We will make sure that the public, the primary health care providers are better prepared to take care of basic drug counselling units and know how to take care of people suffering from drug use disorder.
“We need to further improve on the availability of treatment. We need to strengthen our efforts and major concerns in schools and also help the children get skills on how to stay away from illicit drugs,“ the UNODC official said.
NAN reports that the 2023 World Drug Day celebration is conducted in partnership with the agency’s stakeholders like the UNODC and MTN Foundation.
Some of the events lined up include essay and quiz competitions, Walk Against Drugs, NGO activities, and a campaign to raise awareness among young people who are not in school.