… Arrests 17,647 suspects, convicts 2,369 in 17 months nationwide***
The National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) arrested 345 suspected illicit drug users and sellers in Katsina State, from January till date.
The NDLEA Commander in the state, Mr Mohammed Bashir, who made the disclosure at a media briefing on Monday in Katsina, also said that 15 of the suspects had been convicted.
The newsmen report that the briefing was part of activities to commemorate the 2022 UN Week Against Drug Abuse and Trafficking.
The week has the theme: ”Addressing Drug Challenges in Health and humanitarian Crises”.
According to Bashir, 339 of the 345 nabbed suspects are males while six are females.
He said that most of the 338 suspects had been counselled and rehabilitated, adding that some of the suspects were traffickers, dealers and petty sellers.
He said: “It is sad to note that over 90 per cent of arrested suspects and counselled clients fell between the age bracket of 15-40 years.
“The UN Day Against Drug Abuse and Trafficking is celebrated all over the world to highlight the socio-economic. political and security implications of abuse of drugs and trafficking on the society.
“In Katsina State, we have marked a plan of action to commemorate it in consonance with the objectives it intends to achieve.
“This year’s activities will begin on June 20 through June 26.
“As usual, each day of this special week is expected to be marked with laudable activities to highlight the challenges illicit drugs posed to society.”
The NDLEA boss said that the activities would include quiz competitions among secondary schools in the three senatorial zones and public sensitisation.
“Other activities include a one-day seminar for law enforcement officers, Juma’at prayer, sports competition, church service and lecture,” he said.
In the same vein, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said it arrested over 17,647 offenders and convicted and jailed 2, 369 between January 2021 and May 2022.
The Chairman, NDLEA retired Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa said this during a press briefing in commemoration of World Drug Day on Monday in Abuja.
The newsmen report that the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, or World Drug Day (WDD) is marked on June 26 every year.
It is marked to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving a world free of drug abuse.
Marwa said that the theme “Addressing Drug Challenges in Health and Humanitarian Crises” gave prominence to the recent global experience with COVID-19 and the prevailing circumstances around the world.
According to him, this year’s theme for the UN Day has beamed the light on an area of the drug problem that has until recent years been on the backburner of the drug discourse.
“For us at the agency, we are abreast of time and trends as shown by the priority accorded treatment and care.
“In 2021, about 8,000 drug users were counselled and rehabilitated, in most cases through brief interventions.
“We continued the effort in the first five months of 2022, whereby an additional 3,523 were also counselled and treated in NDLEA facilities.
“Simultaneously, we have continued to shut the tap of illicit flow of drugs with the arrest of over 17,647 offenders including 10 drug barons between January 2021 and May 2022.
“More than 2,369 were convicted and jailed within the same period while 154,667.339kg of drugs were seized in the first five months of this year alone,” Marwa said.
He said that the Drug Demand Reduction Department had been galvanised and working non-stop to ensure that the health aspect of the drug abuse calculus got adequate attention.
In the same vein, Marwa said that the agency’s policy of Drug Integrity Test was predicated on getting help to drug users suffering in silence.
This he said was because they could not seek the needed health treatment due to social stigma and discrimination.
“This is why in a short while from now; we’ll be unveiling the NDLEA Call Centre.
“This will be manned by professionals and experts in counselling, psychotherapy, psychology, psychiatry and more to offer help to drug users who will make use of our toll-free lines to seek counselling 24/7.
“This will also enable those afraid of stigmatisation to be able to seek help without necessarily being seen or identified by anyone.
“Even as we rev up our drug supply reduction offensive, it is certain that we are not relenting on getting help to those suffering from drug use disorder,” he said.
Mr Oliver Stolpe, the Country Representative, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, (UNODC) also spoke.
Stolpe said that UNODC was addressing transnational drug challenges stemming from situations of crisis in the year 2022 World Drug Day celebration.
He estimated that there might be close to 6 million persons in Nigeria today that might be with drug use dependency based on 2017 and 2018 data.
According to him, this creates a massive public health challenge.
Newsmen report that the week-long programme of activities begins Monday, June 20 and ends Wednesday, June 29.
Some of the activities lined up for this year’s World Drug Day celebration are reflective of the realignments in the approach to the illicit substance problem.