The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has disclosed that global illicit trade of cocaine has risen to sum of $85 billion annually,exacerbating insurgency, money-laundering, political instability, international terrorism and wider destabilisation in Nigeria in particular.
The NDLEA Chairman, Col. Mohammad Mustapha Abdallah (rtd) made the disclosure on Friday in Abuja while presenting the programme of activities to commemorate the 2017 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
Abdallah revealed that a recent report showed that every $1 billion of pure cocaine trafficked to West Africa earns more than 10 times as much when sold on the streets in Europe.
He said that drug trafficking, once viewed largely as a social and criminal problem, had transformed in recent years into a major threat to health and security of Nigerians.
Abdallah also alerted Nigerians to the increasing drug addiction among the citizens.
“We have cause to worry over the increasing conversion of jurisdictions such as our neighboring African countries into transit routes to Europe and Asia because some of these illicit drugs will no doubt find their way through the porous borders to our hinterland, into cities for local consumption. This calls for some diplomatic engagement with these countries for them to adopt equally stringent measures if they must be on the same page with Nigeria in drug control,” he said.
The NDLEA boss said the Nigerian government had displayed sufficient political will to address the drug menace, adding that the agency had observed that the social investment policy thrust of the federal government, coupled with the laudable initiatives in agriculture would profitably engage youths who are a vulnerable group in substance abuse, thereby de-escalating the problem of drug trafficking and abuse.
Abdallah said in spite of the lack of numerical strength, insufficient budgetary provision and even lack of modern equipment at the agency’s disposal, “the agency arrested a total of 8,257 suspected drug traffickers comprising 7,720 males and 537 females in 2016.
“Illicit drugs weighing 263,947.57kg were also seized from traffickers. The drugs include 305.166kg of cocaine, 66.283kg of heroine, 187,394.00kg of cannabis sativa, 1,352.56kg of methamphetamine, 718.265kg of Ephedrine and 74,111.30kg of other sundry drugs.
“In 2015, suspected drug traffickers arrested were 8,778 consisting of 8,143 males and 635 females, while 903,624kg of drugs were seized. Comparatively, there was reduction of 521 persons in the number of 2016 while drug seizures also reduced by 639,677kg,” he stated.
Abdallah stressed that the reduction was due to updated strategies adopted by the agency in preventing cannabis cultivation as cannabis seizure alone in 2015 was 871,480kg, stressing that operationally, the agency was able to take the battle to cannabis plantations located in the depth of the forests.
“More plantations were destroyed in 2016, amounting to 718.78 hectares compared to 377.12 hectares in 2015. Correspondingly, the number of drug cases favourably determined in favour of the agency in court increased by 559 from 1,690 in 2015 to 2,249 in 2016,” the Chairman said.