The Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, retired Brigadier General Buba Marwa, has justified the agency’s offensive action against illicit drugs production laboratories and farms.
Marwa stated this in his presentation on the national drug control masterplan at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs conference taking place in Vienna, Austria.
He said the agency took the step because of the threat drugs posed to Nigeria’s national security.
In a statement signed by the Agency’s Director, Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, on Friday in Abuja, Marwa said Nigeria was traditionally considered a transit country for drug trafficking.
He said: “Now, the problem is much bigger as different categories of drugs are produced, consumed and trafficked in the country.
“Drugs trafficked include: cannabis, cocaine, heroin and psychotropic substances, including methamphetamine and tramadol.
“Cannabis is cultivated in different parts of the country and there is evidence of methamphetamine producing laboratories.
“NDLEA has destroyed thousands of hectares of cannabis cultivated land as well as 18 methamphetamine manufacturing laboratories.”
Marwa said a situation where the drug use prevalence in Nigeria was 14.4 per cent was unacceptable and as such every necessary step must be taken to reverse the trend.
He said the drug use prevalence in Nigerians aged between 15 and 64 was approximately 15 per cent and it was three times the global drug use prevalence of 5.5 per cent.
He said: “Cannabis used by 10.6 million Nigerians is the most common used drug followed by opioids with 4.6 million including tramadol.
“This is in addition to the fact that one in every five individuals using drugs is a woman and one in five who had used drug in the past year is suffering from drug user disorder.”
The NDLEA boss said the agency remained committed as Nigeria’s premier drug control agency with the mandate to “provide effective and efficient services to Nigerians.”
This, he said, was by cutting off the supply of and reducing the demand for illicit drugs and other substances of abuse, tracing and recovering drug related proceeds, and contributing to the creation and maintenance of an enviable image for the nation within the global community.
He explained that the essence of the National Drug Control Master Plan was comprehensive and balanced as it focused on drugs not only from law-and-order perspectives, but also as a public health and education issue.
Marwa said: “It provides balanced solutions to issues of drug demand and supply, and ensures access to controlled medicines for medical and scientific purposes.
“In developing the NDCMP 2021-2025, effort was made to ensure that the document is aligned and harmonised with the existing international and regional conventions.
“It also benefitted from lessons learned from earlier phases of NDCMP, and good practices from Nigeria, West Africa and around the world.
“The NDCMP also contributes to achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)-3 to ‘ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
“To strengthen prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol.”