Some stakeholders in criminal justice administration have identified dearth of personnel in prosecuting agencies, unemployment, obsolete laws and compromise among security agents as factors responsible for the thriving illicit drug business.
The respondents told newsmen in separate interviews on Monday in Ibadan that cases of illicit drug trade had continued to surface in courts in spite of frequent arrests, prosecutions and convictions by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA.
Ayokunle Morakinyo, an NDLEA counsel, who had served as a prosecutor in many states of the federation, said that the agency lacks adequate human and material resources to execute its work properly.
He said that government had so many responsibilities that it was contending with, adding that this had made it difficult to meet all the needs of the NDLEA.
“Sometimes, we don’t have enough support to do a thorough job.
“When I was in Niger State as an NDLEA prosecutor, many people who were convicted and sentenced to years in prison soon went back into drug dealing after completing their jail terms.
“It is the same story when I got to Kebbi State, and the situation was the same when I was in Oyo State.
“In fact, some defendants who were granted bail also went back into drug trafficking and were arrested and arraigned for fresh offences when they had not been discharged from previous crimes.
“Unfortunately, state governments don’t seem to be interested in drug-related matters because they believe that the NDLEA, which is a Federal Government Agency, is there to handle it.
“There is also a psychological angle to the issue of drug dealing in Nigeria because some of the criminals feel that unless they buy and sell cannabis and the likes, they cannot survive.
“Socially, there is wide-spread unemployment where idle hands engage themselves in dealing in the illicit trade,” he said.
The NDLEA counsel expressed worry that the situation might worsen if something urgent was not done to curtail the rising cases.
Mrs Oyinkansola Odebunmi, a counsellor and Founder of Oyin Counsel Concept in Ibadan, said drug trafficking was on the rise because the punishment attached to the commission of the crime remained light among other factors.
“This problem has also remained because some influential persons are out there encouraging the criminals.
“Another reason why drug dealing has persisted is that it is the only means of livelihood for some people and there must be a strong alternative before the dealers can stop peddling it,” Odebunmi said.
Also speaking, an Ibadan-based lawyer, Mr Stephen Raji, contended that some security operatives involved in investigating drug dealers sometimes compromise.
“I challenge you to watch court trials involving drug traffickers, you can hardly find big guys like barons being tried.
“The people you will find being made to face prosecution are ordinary smokers and sellers because the real dealers would have bribed their way through,” Raji said.
The legal practitioner called for a department to be established to supervise the day-to-day operation of NDLEA officers so as to forestall any compromise during arrest and investigation of suspects.
He also advocated regular training and retraining of the officers to boost human capacity development and productivity.