Drug trafficking/abuse: Augmenting operating apparatus to tackle sprouting wings

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Clampdown on drug traffickers has become a phenomenon of reoccurring factor recently. The records of seizure and arrests of drug traffickers have been on the high side. In 2021, cummulative reports have seen the monetary value of seized drugs running into hundreds of billions.

In September, 2021, the NDLEA had disclosed that it had seized illicit 2,776,000kg of drugs worth over N100 billion between January and August 2021 and arrested 8,634 suspected drug traffickers including 6,461 males and 547 females, during the period. The Agency had further disclosed that it also destroyed 1,202 hectares of cannabis farms in various States across the Country, while It disclosed that more than 10 million Nigerians abused drugs in the period under review. According to the Agency, as at September 06, it had secured 1,630 convictions, 3,232 cases in court and over 4,269 drug users counselled and rehabilitated between January and August.

In its update report on seizures of hard drugs and arrests of traffickers, the NDLEA in November had disclosed that it intercepted consignments of cocaine and heroin weighing 16.85 kilograms worth more than N4.9 billion in street value. In a statement issued on Sunday (November 14) by its Director on Media and Advocacy, Mr Femi Babafemi, the NDLEA had revealed that its operatives intercepted the consignments at the Apapa Seaport and at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos. According to the statement, four persons were being investigated for the 13.65kg cocaine seized on board a ship, MV Karteria that came into the Apapa Port from Santos, Brazil, on Sunday, November 7. This was barely three weeks after 32.9kg of cocaine was intercepted at the port on another vessel, MV Chayanee Naree, also from Santos, Brazil. The anti-drug trafficking Agency had said that in a well-coordinated follow-up operations, five persons have been arrested in different parts of Lagos and Delta in connection with the shipment.

On the 24th October, operation report of the NDLEA for the preceding week had revealed the Agency intercepted no less than 2,060 kilograms of assorted drugs including heroin, methamphetamine, cannabis, tramadol and rohypnol in various operations at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Lagos as well as Ondo, Edo, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau and some courier companies. Two consignments of heroin weighing 4. 40kg and 550grams were intercepted on October 6 and 15 respectively at the cargo shed of the MMIA, Ikeja.

In a statement on Sunday, 17th October, the NDLEA had disclosed that in the preceding week it intercepted various drugs with cumulative weight of over 153, 256.876 kilograms. The Agency had also disclosed that it arrested no less than 663 suspects in various States within the same period. Sunday 12th September, the Agency had disclosed that in the preceding week it intercepted and seized over 24,311kg of heroin, codeine as well as Arizona and Colorado variants of cannabis in recent drug busts at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja and the Tincan seaport, Apapa, Lagos. That came barely a week after the Agency intercepted N6billion worth of Amphetamine, popularly known as jihadists drug, at the Apapa port in Lagos. It was reported last Wednesday, January 06, that Operatives of the Seme Command of the Nigeria Customs Service, intercepted substances suspected to be tramadol capsules concealed with 200 package jumbo size adult diapers. A statement by the Command Public Relations Officer, Hussaini Abdullahi, disclosed that the offensive item laden in a 1X20 feet container has a Duty Paid Value of N1.45billion.

In its review report for 2021, the NDLEA, Enugu command disclosed that it seized a total of 1,359.166.85 kilogrammes of drugs plus 13 capsules in 2021. The Agency also said that it equally arrested 114 suspects, including 12 female suspects, while securing prosecution of 93 suspects and convicted 50 drug peddlers. Giving details of the operations over the agency’s achievement in 2021, the Enugu state commander of the Agency, Com. Anietie Bassey Idim, CN, expressed worries over the use of methamphetamines “mkpuru-miri” drug in Enugu, raising concern over its local  production within the state. According to him, the crystal meth drugs are worse than any of the category ‘A’ drugs. He was quoted:  “The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Enugu command in its determination to achieve a drug free Enugu state, has through her sources and with the collaboration of other security agencies made tremendous achievement in the year 2021. Why the Agency is particularly worried about Methamphetamines (crystal meth or “mkpulu-mirt) products are worse than any of thee category “A” drugs and their being manufactured locally make them readily available for abuse by our teeming youth population. Methamphetamine (crystal meth or “mkpulu-miri”) dependent persons have slimmer chances of recovering compared to user of other drugs. Clandestine laboratory also poses grave threat to the locality of its operation, as it pollutes sources of water and even air. It is therefore, not enough that one does not abuse the deadly substance, but one must ensure that he/she does not live in places where this clandestine activity goes on. In the year under review, the State Command made the following arrests and seizure: 114 suspects, prosecuted 93 suspects, 43 case pending in court. While the number of drugs seized were, cannabis sativa, 1,328.174kg, cocaine, 222.67grm, methamphetamine, 592.11, Psychotropic substances, 29.920kg, tramadol, 258.07 and rohypnol, 13 capsule.”

Last November, the Chairman and Chief Executive of the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), retired Brig.-Gen Buba Marwa, had mentioned that no less than 15 million Nigerians indulge in the consumption of illicit drugs. Marwa who made the disclosure in an interactive session with Local Government Chairmen in Plateau on Wednesday 17, November, 2021 in Jos, had decried the surge in the distribution and consumption of illicit substances, adding that one out of seven Nigerians indulged in drug abuse. According to him, the surge in drug abuse had destroyed many youths and communities.

“As I speak to you, 15 million Nigerians use illicit drugs; one out of seven Nigerians take hard substances. There is no community in Nigeria that is exempted from drug abuse and this is why we keep having security challenges here and there. Drug propels a lot of negative actions particularly among young people; it is destroying our youths and even the communities,” Marwa had said.

As new wings of cartels continue to sprout-up in the network of dealings in  hard drugs, the need to intensify sensitisation/awareness programmes across institutional framework of the Nigerian society become imperative. These include schools, local communities, markets, religious institutions, with other localised structures such as town hall arrangements,  strategic platforms as the NYSC, students unions, among several other levels of engagement. This is sacrosanct to raise ideological defences against the menace and its associated threats.

There is no doubt that Nigeria under attack by the menace of drug abuse which has been an instigator of several criminal dispositions and a strong drifting force for poor human capacity performance, particularly among young people among which the practice is well pronounced.

The need to develop an architecture of elaborate response against the estate of drug trafficking and its abuse is sacrosanct. Such well pronounced structural responses should accommodate parameters of systemic force dealing with the networks expanding the sprouting wings of the chains of the estate from the production to the trafficking and consumption of hard drugs. As recently identified, the local production of hard drugs has begun to assume a dimension of disturbance to further entrench the network of the chains of dealings in illicit practices. It has become necessary for all response institutions to draft concerted efforts to check these new sproutings with heavy clampdown through both soft and hard apparatuses to foreclose strengthening their footholds – a bad omen that may further worsen the profile of proliferation of hard drugs and its associated threats in the Country.