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More than 12,000 persons arrested for drug-related offenses in 2021 – NDLEA

THE National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said it arrested more than twelve thousand persons for drug-related offenses in 2021.

NDLEA Chairman Buba Marwa disclosed this in Lagos on Monday.

Out of the total number of arrests, the agency prosecuted and convicted more than 1,000 persons, while over 7,000 were rehabilitated and counselled, according to Marwa.

“To change the drug narrative in Nigeria, we launched an offensive action, which is a non-stop drug supply reduction activity that entailed relentless tracking, pursuit, arrest and prosecution of drug traffickers. Since January 2021, we have been scoring big in this assignment,” he said.

“Our record in one year included 12,306 arrests and 1,367 convictions; seizure of 3.4 million kilograms of illicit substances, including cannabis, cocaine, codeine, heroin and tramadol; and the recovery of cash and drugs worth over N130 billion.

“In 2021, we successfully counselled and rehabilitated 7,761 drug users in NDLEA facilities.”

Marwa said the agency was determined to eliminate drug abuse in the country.

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Stressing that drug abuse was becoming endemic especially among young people, he said there was a need to intensify efforts towards reducing it to the barest minimum.

Marwa further disclosed that research findings indicated that Nigeria has a drug use prevalence of 14.4 per cent, almost triple the global average of 5.5 per cent.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Drug Report 2021, globally, around 275 million people used drugs in the last year, while over 36 million people suffered from drug use disorders.

The report noted that in the last 24 years, cannabis potency had increased by as much as four times in parts of the world, even as the percentage of adolescents who perceived the drug as harmful fell by as much as 40 per cent, despite evidence that cannabis use is associated with a variety of health challenges and other risks, especially among regular long-term users.

The UNODC, in the report, also observed that between 2010 and 2019, the number of people using drugs increased by 22 per cent.

The rise in drug use was linked to the growing global population, and in line with demographic changes, it is projected that by 2030 the number of people using drugs would have further increased by 11 per cent.

However, the UNODC report observed while it was projected that the number of drug users will increase globally by 11 per cent by 2030, it is estimated that Nigeria and the whole of Africa will record a 40 per cent increment in the same period.

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“In Nigeria, this would signify that the country will have to grapple with approximately 20 million drug users by 2030, further deepening the public health and public security challenge,” the report stated.

The report added that 11 million Nigerians took to cannabis as of 2018 while 4.6 million and 2.4 million others were said to have used opioids and cough syrups, respectively.

Other substances said to have been commonly taken in Nigeria include tranquilisers and sedatives, solvents and inhalers, among others.

According to UNODC data, prevalence of drug use in Nigeria on a geopolitical zonal basis shows that the South-West tops the chart with about 4.382 million users amounting to 22.4 per cent of Nigeria’s total figure of 14.3 million users.

The South-West comprises Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti states.

The North-West zone, comprising Kano, Sokoto, Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina and Kebbi states closely follows the South West with three million drug users as of 2018, while the South-South region of Edo, Delta, Rivers, Cross River, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom States ranks third with 2.124 million users.

The North-East, comprising Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Taraba, Adamawa and Gombe states, recorded 2.09 million users to rank 4th on the log.

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The South-East zone, made up of Abia, Imo, Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi states, recorded about 1.55 million drug users while the North-Central zone, comprising Kwara, Kogi, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa and the federal capital territory recorded 1.5 million users to take 5th and 6th positions respectively.

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