No fewer than 2,000 suspected drug traffickers have been arrested in various parts of the country in the last three months, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has said.
The NDLEA Chairman, Brigadier-General Buba Marwa, added that over 300 convictions have been secured and illicit drugs worth N75 billion have been seized within the period under review.
He made the disclosure on Thursday when he paid a courtesy visit to the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, at Radio House in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Marwa decried that drug abuse has assumed an alarming proportion in Nigeria, saying there were about 15 million drug users between the age bracket of 15 and 64 – 25 per cent of whom were females.
He noted that NDLEA operatives arrested two traffickers from the Niger Republic and Chad, who confessed to supplying illicit drugs to bandits.
The NDLEA boss sought the collaboration of the information ministry and its agencies to launch a nationwide public sensitisation on drug demand reduction drive, through advocacy programmes in the media in order to curb drug abuse in the country.
On his part, the minister gave an assurance that his ministry would collaborate with the NDLEA to launch a national campaign against drug trafficking and illicit use of drugs in the country.
“The Federal Ministry of Information and Culture will work with you to give maximum publicity to your activities, especially in the area of advocacy,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his media aide, Segun Adeyemi.
Mohammed added, “To date, we have launched a number of national campaigns. It will not be a bad idea for the ministry, working with the NDLEA, to launch a national campaign against drug trafficking and the use of illicit drugs.
“I will also encourage the NDLEA to work with the National Orientation Agency (NOA), which has set up Integrity Clubs in secondary schools nationwide, to reach the young ones with its campaign against drug use.”
According to him, the war against illicit drugs and tackling drug trafficking is one of the most important tasks in Nigeria, considering that drug trafficking, money laundering by traffickers, and the use of illicit drugs are closely linked to the nation’s security, the well-being of the citizens, the moral fabric of the society, and even governance.
“It is common knowledge that drug money can be used to finance insurgency and terrorism. A successful fight against drug trafficking will, therefore, help to deny or reduce funding for insurgency.
“The kind of vicious banditry and kidnapping for ransom that our country has witnessed in recent times cannot be totally separated from illicit drug use and their effects on users who take to crime,” said the minister.
He commended the NDLEA Chairman for recording impressive achievements in less than three months of his appointment, particularly in restoring the visibility of the agency for local and international partnerships.