The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (rtd), has disclosed that no fewer than 14.3 million Nigerians; young people and adults from the age of 16 to 64 years abuse drugs, with cannabis being the commonly abused substance.
Marwa who disclosed this in Ogidi, Ijumu local government area of Kogi State during this year Ogidi Yam Festival, said at least 10.6 million people are addicted to cannabis in the past years.
He said, “What is most heartbreaking is that majority of them are young people who are initiated into cannabis use around the age of 19. There is also increasing use of other psychotropic drugs, especially heroin by a growing number of young people who are mostly initiated at the age of 22 years.
“The more you unravel the statistics of drug abuses in Nigeria, the more damning it becomes. And when you combine these damning data with the recent results of the activities of the NDLEA, then you begin to get worried.
“In the past four months, we have arrested more than 2,180 drug traffickers, intercepted and seized over two million kilograms of assorted illicit substances such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, tramadol and cannabis.
Broadly speaking, the agency has been able to seize drugs and cash worth over N90 billion within the first four months of this year.
“We have filed over 2,000 drug cases in court. Over 500 have been sentenced and are now serving different jail terms. And we still have over 1,500 of the cases pending in court. With this reality, it will be ironic to expect peace, security and meaningful development in Nigeria.
“Truthfully, we are all victims of the consequences of drug abuse and trafficking, directly or indirectly. As indicated by research, one in eight Nigerians experiences consequences due to other peoples’ drug use in their families, workplace and communities. What this means is that no community in Nigeria is exempted from the drug scourge.
Gen. Marwa lamented that the state of insecurity in the country calls for sober reflection because our national life is now characterised daily by unprovoked attacks, senseless killings and other grave crimes.
According to him, more than ever before, the country is seriously seeking to entrench peace and security. This reflects in the urgency and the magnitude of commitment devoted to tackling destructive manifestations such as banditry and Boko Haram insurgency as well as the strategic measures being employed by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to neutralise the enabling factors of insecurity.
“This is the backdrop to the NDLEA’s renewed war on abuse and trafficking of illicit drugs, identified as one of the major enablers of crimes and by extension, catalysts of insecurity,” he said.
He commended the organizer of this Year Ogidi Yam Festival saying that it is exhilarating to see people from all corners of this great country present here today on this festive occasion.
“This is the joy, happiness, and excitement we desire and pray for every community in Nigeria. I wish Kabiyesi, Ologidi of Ogidi, Oba Rabiu Oladimeji Sule and the entire people of Ogidi a beautiful celebration. May God Almighty grant us many more prosperous celebrations.
“As we gather here today, I will implore each of us to take a few minutes for sober reflection and pray for Nigeria. But for the relative peace in Kogi State, this festival would not have been staged in this grand way.
“There are several places across Nigeria where people and communities have abandoned festivals and other celebrations of their cultural heritage for years now because of the security situation in the country. The state of insecurity in the country calls for sober reflection because our national life is now characterised daily by unprovoked attacks, senseless killings and other grave crimes.
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