The Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Buba Marwa, on Wednesday said that the war against illicit drugs and trafficking in Nigeria was yielding positive results.
Mr Marwa said this in Abuja during a sensitisation training on Drugs Prevention, Treatment and Care, organised by the United Nations Office On Drugs and Crime, UNODC, for NLDEA personnel and journalists.
He said the arrest of former Commander of the police Intelligence Response Team, IRT, DCP Abba Kyari, is a clear message of the agency’s commitment in the fight against drug abuse.
Mr Marwa said that those given the responsibility to fight crime, including illicit drugs trade, must not be proponents of the crime.
He also said that the fight against drug abuse was a serious business and assured that the agency was committed to ensuring a drug-free nation.
The NDLEA chairman appreciated the important role being played by the media in the fight against drug trafficking and abuse in the country.
He urged journalists at the training to gain sufficient knowledge, so as to get accurate information out to the people.
“The media has a very important role to play in our society. The business of getting information out needs to be accurate and professionally done.
“This is important especially in the business of drug control, drug abuse, trafficking.
“There are technicalities that you need to get sufficient knowledge of, the terrain, so that when you get the word out, it is gotten out accurately because you mould the opinions of millions.
“It is for this reason that I urge the journalists to please take this training seriously and take full advantage of it.
“While we are at it, there is an ongoing play which we are witnessing and I have followed the role of the media even in it. It is a serious business that is ongoing. We all are responsible.
“We want a drug free nation. We may not get to zero level, but definitely there is a certain minimum acceptability standard that we are all pursuing,” he said.
Mr Marwa expressed gratitude to the UNODC for their support in the fight against drug trafficking and abuse in the country.
The UNODC Country Representative, Oliver Stolpe, said that the drug use epidemic affects around 40 million Nigerians, out of which around three million have drug use disorders.
Mr Stolpe, who lauded the efforts of the media in information dissemination, said more still needed to be done in the fight against drug abuse in Nigeria.
“I think there is still more to be done, because I still believe that most Nigerians perceive drug use as more of a failure of some sorts of basically those people that are using drugs.
“It has not yet been fully appreciated that drug use is a health condition first and foremost, and it is a health condition that affects this nation much more severely than I think there is a true awareness of.
“Just to give you an idea. HIV/AIDS that USAID and international development partners have spent billions to fight to put under control affects 1.9 million Nigerians as we speak.
“COVID-19 affects roughly half a million people. The drug use epidemic in terms of pure use affects around 40 million Nigerians as we speak, and around three million are affected with what we would refer to as a drug use disorder.
“It means they would require medical intervention to stop using drugs.
“So this is a higher number than HIV/AIDS or COVID-19 and yet I think in terms of what is being put towards addressing this issue, it falls significantly short of other efforts,” he said.
Mr Stolpe said that the country needed to also give priority to addressing the drug problem, as done to other health and social issues.
“So it is really critical and that is the message that I hope you (the media) will continue to help us to spread,” he said.