Intensifying the war on hard drugs


The high rate of hard drugs related crimes in Nigeria is most worrisome. Unfortunately, the victims of the drugs business cartel are the youths who are in the productive stage of their lives.

The unquantified economic burden this illegal business imposes on government and its agencies is better imagined. We may also add that increase in robbery, gun running, kidnapping, destruction of lives and properties, cultism, are often drug related.

Recently, Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Archbishop Henry Ndukuba noted that, “the speed and desperation at which Nigerians are getting involved in hard drugs is alarming and the country is becoming a strong hob for hard drugs, hence there is a need for the authorities to stop the menace.”

Chairman and Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, (NDLEA) Brig Gen Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) announced that about 17, 647 drug offenders and ten barons were arrested in the last 17 months.

Of this figure, over 2,369 were convicted and jailed. He also revealed that more than 11,000 users were undergoing counselling and rehabilitation within the same period. We must note the efforts which Marwa has put into the NDLEA since he assumed the mantle of leadership of the agency.

Indeed, he has done to the NDLEA what the late indefatigable Professor Dora Akunyili, OFR, did for National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control of Nigeria (NAFDAC) between 2001 and 2008. Despite the above, more efforts should be put into the drug war. This would require more human and material resources.

First, the level of drug education and public awareness should be increased and sustained. Not many people are aware of the adverse effects of drug abuse. Many parents live in self-denial. Some teenage children and adults, perhaps out of peer influence, are into drug abuse.

Common in most Club Houses and private parties is cannabis use – often used as condiments for cakes as well; it is mixed with soft and alcoholic drinks – smoking of hashish, cigarettes of various degrees, etc.

This is common even among females. Reports are rife among students of the use of drugs such as amphetamine, heroin, diazepam, codeine, cough syrup and tramadol, ice, and Colorado. Most manual daily paid labourers are usually sustained and energised by tramadol abuse. We may add sex enhancing drug use by men.

Drug education will make parents know the symptoms exhibited by addicts as well as educate them on how addicts may be medically helped. A major impediment to drug abuse war in Nigeria is the culture of drug use in motor parks and bus terminals.

Parks in major cities such as Lagos, Warri, Port Harcourt, Aba, Onitsha, Jos, and Kano are notorious for this. Government should make these spots drug free. Drivers and their assistants have as their neighbor hawkers of various brands of alcohol and other hard drugs, packed in factory made sachets. Many who hawk “local medicines” commonly called agbo are disguised drug peddlers.

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The NDLEA cannot be left alone to prosecute the war if we desire success. Some of the drugs are imported into Nigeria with many powerful barons behind the trade. It is even reported that many well-placed politicians and security officers are backers of this business. Club houses thrive on drug patronage.

The government should strengthen the NDLEA to make the agency an effective and efficient drug bursting organisation. There is also the need to invest in drug rehabilitation facilities in the country. Our hospitals and correctional centres should be equipped with the requisite professionals that can carry out such tasks.

Apart from these measures, collaborating with existing non-state players and agencies to curb and eradicate this menace is important. No drug war can be effective without a good intelligence system. End users can be easily apprehended at the club houses, motor parks and even by random drug and alcohol tests of drivers by Federal Roads Safety Corp (FRSC) officers on our roads.

The international dimension of the drug trade should not be ignored in this war. Nigeria is a major producer of cannabis and its corollaries, and a major transit route of cocaine and heroin. Our sea and airports and Nigerian couriers of hard drugs should not be underrated in the task. Nigerian embassies and drug fighting agencies must get involved in the war.

The State must not be seen to protect those fingered for drug related crimes. Drug sellers and barons as well as their blood or close relatives must not be allowed to benefit from the proceeds of this illegal business.

This is one way of deterring others from getting involved in the drug business. Commending the yeoman job by the NDLEA is not enough effort by all to end the destruction of our society and community being caused by hard drug use. All hands must be on deck if this scourge must be wiped out of our families, communities, and country.

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