The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) emphasises the critical importance of combating drug trafficking due to its detrimental impact on society.
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Rtd), conveyed this message during a visit to Governor Sheriff Oborevwori at Government House in Asaba.
Marwa pointed out the alarming rise of hard drug use in Nigeria, with more than 15 million drug users aged between 15 and 64, as per a United Nations survey.
He called for the state government’s support and cooperation in the fight against this issue.
Attributing widespread social problems like kidnapping, terrorism, banditry, insurgency, rape, and murder to hard drug abuse, Marwa noted that the prevalence rate of drug abuse in Delta State, among individuals aged 15 to 64, stands at 18%, involving over half a million people.
The NDLEA, over the course of two years, has taken significant measures to combat this issue. They have destroyed approximately 1,000 hectares of land used for the cultivation of illicit drugs, seized more than 6,000 metric tonnes of drugs, and arrested over 36,000 suspects and individuals of interest. Additionally, more than 6,000 people have been convicted and incarcerated as part of the anti-drug efforts.
Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa’s visit to Delta also involved condolences to the Fidelis family for the tragic loss of two-year-old Eromonsele, who lost his life accidentally during an operation in Asaba.
He also engaged with stakeholders actively involved in the fight against drug trafficking in the nation.
Governor Sheriff Oborevwori of Delta State highlighted the growing problem of hard drug abuse in the country, describing it as a global public health concern that requires immediate attention.
He commended NDLEA and other stakeholders for their efforts in addressing this issue but stressed the need to sustain the momentum for the nation to triumph over the illicit hard drug trade.
The governor said: “I am very touched that you took time to come to Delta State over the incident that happened and also used the opportunity to meet your people here.
“I celebrate your sacrifice, commitment, and dedication to duty. You have demonstrated that you are a caring and passionate leader—the kind of leader we need in Nigeria.
“It is not a strange thing to us because we know you and we know your antecedents during your time as a Military Administrator of Lagos State.
“Delta State is happy to receive you and we know that, under your leadership, the NDLEA has recorded outstanding successes, bursting drug cartels in the country. I commend you and your personnel at the NDLEA for your resolve to rid the nation of illicit drugs, no matter who is involved.
“The momentum must be sustained if we are to win the war against drug abuse. Drug abuse is both a global health and social problem. In Nigeria, it has become a public health menace.
“It needs urgent and proactive actions to be able to handle the trend and I assure you of our unwavering support and partnership in this fight.”
He, however, said that, despite the rise in drug abuse, a lot was being done on advocacy and rehabilitation at the designated centers, adding that, in support of the goals of the NDLEA, he had appointed a capable hand as Senior Special Assistant on illicit Drugs.
He said the unfortunate incident of July, in which an innocent child died and another was injured in the course of an NDLEA operation in the state, would not stop the state government from supporting the fight against drug trafficking and substance abuse.
“We commend the NDLEA for sending a team for an investigation to ascertain what actually happened. I also instructed the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) to give a letter to the family to get an American visa for the treatment of the child abroad.
“On the issue of partnership, we are already partnering. What you are doing in the NDLEA is commendable and Nigerians are happy”, he said.