Text of the Pre-event Press Briefing by Col. Muhammed Mustapha Abdallah(Rtd) Chairman/Chief Executive, NDLEA on June 20, 2019 at Abuja to flag-off the commemoration of 2019 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug trafficking
WE NEED TO DO MORE
Let me welcome you to this press briefing which marks the beginning of our annual week long drug sensitization and awareness programme that will end with a grand finale on the June 26, 2019 at Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja.
2. As you are already aware, the June 26 of every year is a day set aside globally to reinforce the anti-drug efforts and activities of all stakeholders in the world. In Nigeria, the NDLEA with other stakeholders have always taken advantage of this day to amplify the message about the extreme cultural and socio-economic harm the trade in drugs and abuse of drugs is causing globally.
3. This year’s events provide an opportunity to answer questions about the situation of Nigeria in global drug chain and what the government and other stakeholders are doing to address the scourge and its consequences.
4. Nigeria is a signatory to all the three International Conventions aimed at addressing the drug problem. The country has also domesticated the conventions and has put in place institutional framework to address the problem of drug abuse and illicit trafficking.
5. In the last 10 years of operations, the Agency has seized a total of 56, 745, 705, 555 kilograms of drugs and has arrested 85, 058 persons for drug and drug related offences. The Agency has prosecuted and secured convictions in 16, 937 cases within this same period. The drug demand reduction programme of the Agency anchored on anti-drug sensitization, treatment and rehabilitation has rescued many from the menace of drug abuse. Properties and assets of drug traffickers have been seized and forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria in accordance with the Enabling Act.
6. Nigeria through the NDLEA has collaborated at bilateral and multilateral levels with other countries to address the drug problem. The personnel of NDLEA saddled with the responsibility of implementing the laws on illicit traffic and abuse of drugs have worked diligently and in many cases paid the supreme price to ensure drugs are taken off the streets of Nigeria. There is no doubt that much has been done in the country to solve this problem but I say we NEED TO DO MORE.
7. It is in realization of the need to do more that the NDLEA has changed its tactics and methods of celebrating the 26th of June. Rather than just hosting a grand finale where all talks and goodwill messages are given, the Agency this year will carry out all-inclusive education and sensitization programmes in Abuja and at lower scale in our state commands across the country.
8. One other objective of our new approach is to improve our outreach to the vulnerable groups. Therefore, we shall be carrying out drug prevention, education and sensitization targeted at the following identified groups of our population.
S/N Date Event Venue Time
1. Thurs 20/06/19 School-Based (Secondary) GSS Wuse, Abuja 10:00am
2. Thurs 20/06/19 Market Sensitization Programme Nyanya Market 11:00 am
3. Fri Sat 21/06/19 School-based (Tertiary) Uni-Abuja 10:00 am
4. Sat 22/06/19 IDP Sensitization Durumi, Area 1 10:00 am
5. Mon 24/06/19 Motor Park Sensitization Zuba Motor Park 10:00 am
6. Tue 25/10/19 Farmers and Hunters Forum Abaji Town Hall 10:00 am
7. Wed 26/10/19 Grand Finale Transcorp Hilton Hotel 10:00 am
9. Ladies and Gentlemen, this year’s programme is in partnership with MTN through MTN Foundation. MTN in realization of their corporate social responsibility has since the beginning of 2019 engage in drug prevention education and sensitization programmes across the country. Together we will carry out sensitization programmes among the populations already stated above. We sincerely thank the management of the company.
10. The place of Nigeria in the world illicit drug trafficking situation requires no further mention in this briefing. What we must not fail to highlight is the result of the National Drug Use Survey conducted by the UNODC and funded by European Union released in February 2019. Part of the report states that:
“The past year prevalence of any drug use in Nigeria is estimated at 14.4 percent or 14.3 million people aged between 15 and 64 years. The extent of drug use in Nigeria is comparatively high when compared with the 2016 global annual prevalence of any drug use of 5.6 percent among adult population.”
11. The theme for this year’s commemoration of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is Health for Justice. Justice for Health. The theme is to address three broad issues
a. Drug dependent persons having access to the treatment they need,
b. Connecting drug prevention, social inclusion and protection.
c. Building knowledge for justice and health.
The theme presupposes that effective responses to the challenges of drugs require inclusive and accountable institutions of criminal justice, health and social services to work hand-in-hand to provide integrated solutions, in line with the international drug control conventions, human rights obligations and sustainable development goals.
12. The report of the prevalence of drug use as well as our report to the authorities that Nigeria is no longer a Transit Country for Cocaine and Heroin, but that Nigeria also produces methamphetamine with 16 clandestine laboratories already discovered, are the reasons for our position that we need to do more to address the scourge of drug trafficking and abuse in the country.
13. The Tramadol crisis that engulfed the nation leading to the seizure in 2018 of about one (1) billion pills/tablets of Tramadol of dosages between 120mg and 400mg is another reason for concern in the country. Let me quickly acknowledge the assistance of the UNDODC in facilitating a sub-regional conference in West Africa on the Tramadol crisis in August 2018 and for sponsoring our officers and other stakeholders to India to discuss the issue of Tramadol smuggling into Nigeria. The effect of the multilateral efforts is yielding good results in reducing Tramadol smuggling into the country.
14. In order to sustain the successes recorded in reducing Tramadol and other opiods smuggling into the country, we need to do more in the following areas:
a. We need to do more in inter-agency synergy and mutual respect for mandates of the respective Agencies.
b. We need to do more to address the predisposing factors that make drugs trafficking and abuse attractive. These factors include unemployment which makes drug trafficking attractive, underemployment which makes our youth involved in menial jobs that demand exertion of strength to rely on performance enhancing drugs. For example, those riding Okada for 12 hours in a day.
c. We need to do more to empower the frontline Agencies saddled with anti-drug control mandates in terms of human, material and financial resources.
d. We need to recognize that drugs energize the insecurity prevalent in all parts of the nation.
e. We need do more to secure the future of our youth and the future generations.
15. Let me at this juncture say, “It has been argued that while nations may find themselves helpless when faced with challenges such as natural disasters and environmental degradation, they should hold themselves absolutely responsible for allowing the drug scourge to devastate their generations of on-coming youths who, through indulgence in drug use become incapable of inheriting a legacy of developmental excellence.”
16. It is in the light of this, that I commend the bold political decision of Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari, for setting up the Presidential Advisory Committee for Elimination of Drug Abuse, PACEDA, headed by General Buba Marwa (rtd.). I am aware the committee has worked tirelessly in the interest of the nation. As we await the submission of the report, and the implementation by Mr. President, let me also seize this opportunity to appreciate and thank Mr. President for approving the immediate recruitment in 2019 of five thousand new personnel out of the fifteen thousand personnel earlier approved for the Agency in 2016.
17. I wish to thank our international collaborators for standing in the gap in many areas of our operations. I appreciate the efforts of the military, the police, Nigeria Civil Defence Corps, the Nigeria Immigration Service and NAFDAC for their complimentary roles in assisting us to carry out our mandates.
18. To the gentlemen of the press, I thank you for projecting our activities. We rely more on your wide reach to sensitize the nation on the need to know that HEALTH FOR JUSTICE AND JUSTICE FOR HEALTH are mutually inter-woven in order to achieve a drug free Nigeria and the world at large.
19. Thank you for listening.