The Chairman of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Rtd), says the agency is developing strategies to take drug cartels out of business and protect the environment from the damaging effects of illicit drug cultivation and production.
Marwa stated this while outlining efforts by Nigeria to curb the menace of substance abuse and illicit drug production and trafficking at the third committee session of the 78th UN Nations General Assembly in New York.
This is contained in a statement by the Director, Media and Advocacy of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mr Femi Babafemi on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said illicit drug cultivation causes deforestation, and environmental degradation requiring appropriate solutions to contain.
Marwa said part of the NDLEA strategic plan was to provide cannabis farmers with better options, like agricultural loans and improved seedlings to cultivate legitimate crops.
The NDLEA chairman said the global community must take action against the increasing online activities of drug traffickers, particularly on the dark web since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This will require collaboration and capacity-building to neutralize the growing threat,” he added.
According to him, Nigeria is strengthening its legal framework through ongoing amendments to relevant drug laws.
“Our bilateral and multilateral cooperation efforts have been expanded through the signing and renewal of memoranda of understanding with countries and agencies.
“This has helped to deepen intelligence sharing, exchange programmes, joint operations, and capacity building, among others ” he said.
Marwa said the anti-narcotics agency would continue to identify gaps and build bridges to dismantle drug trafficking cartels and provide treatment and counselling services.
He added that “more policies to protect vulnerable groups such as women, children, and displaced persons will be implemented.
“To maintain a clear lead over drug trafficking groups, we will continue to engage in thoughtful regulations and targeted strategic law enforcement that are intelligence-led and human rights-centered.
“We will also leverage stakeholder collaboration as we make progress in the implementation of the SDGs. No stone must be left unturned, and no community, group, or individual must be left behind.
“We must extend the fight against drugs on all fronts and ensure that our communities are safe, healthy, and peaceful”, he told the global gathering.
The NDLEA boss added that Nigeria was adopting a whole-of-society approach to countering the challenges of drug trafficking in line with the 2030 SDG agenda, which seeks to promote the rule of law, health, peace, and justice.
According to him, while ramping up law enforcement efforts to halt the illicit supply of drugs, the NDLEA is equally promoting evidence-based drug prevention, treatment, and care programmes.
Marwa said this would mitigate the challenges of narcotic drugs in the society.
He declared that the drug demand reduction strategies were also helping to address the problem of stigmatisation and discrimination against people with drug use disorders.
This, he said, included the introduction of a 24/7 toll-free call centre where people can call from the comfort of their homes to access quality counselling, treatment, and care.
“Remarkable progress has also been made in early prevention programmes in schools and communities. This is in accordance with SDG 3, which seeks to promote good health and well-being.
“One of the approaches is to build the capacity of young people and provide them with the basic coping skills they need to succeed in life.
“NDLEA in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the MTN Foundation, is promoting the Unplugged Drug Programme in schools, ” he said.
The NDLEA chairman said Nigeria has been implementing the National Drug Control Master Plan (NDCMP) 2021–2025.
“This is Nigeria’s strategic document for addressing the world drug problem. One of its advantages is the involvement of stakeholders at all levels of government.
“The master plan provides a multi-agency intelligence-led model that is aimed at disrupting drug trafficking cartels and targeting illicit drug assets and wealth.
“In addition to the NDCMP, there is the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) advocacy campaign which provides stakeholders with a platform to promote anti-drug abuse enlightenment efforts.
“With this development, we have given equal opportunity to drug demand reduction and drug supply reduction efforts,” he said.
Marwa informed the UN assembly that the NDLEA has been working with various groups, including NGOs, CSOs, traditional and religious leaders, to raise awareness on the dangers of illicit drugs consumption and trafficking.