By Bukar Bolori
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has arrested over 17,647 offenders including 10 drug barons between January 2021 and May 2022; The agency has also been able to get more than 2,369 persons convicted and jailed within the same period while 154,667.339 kilogrammes drugs have been seized in the first five months of Year 2022.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Monday on the programme of activities for the 2022 United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Retd.) also disclosed that “in 2021, about 8,000 drug users were counselled and rehabilitated, in most cases through brief interventions. We continued the effort in the first five months of 2022, whereby an additional 3,523 were also counselled and treated in NDLEA facilities.”
Marwa who was appointed to head the anti-narcotics agency in January, last year, said: “This year’s theme for the UN Day has beamed the light on an area of the drug problem that has until recent years been on the backburner of the drug discourse.”
He added that: “For us at the Agency, we are abreast of time and trends as shown by the priority accorded treatment and care.”
Marwa noted that: “While the world has been grappling with the illicit drugs conundrum for over three decades, changing dynamics in the decade have forced a paradigm shift and re-adjusted perspectives that allow for drug narratives to be seen as exacerbating factors in multidimensional situations.
“That has brought to the fore the imperative of looking at the drug problem through the lens of public health and also tackling such as a broader social problem rather than through the conventional, narrow, criminal matter approach.It has, therefore, also become prudent to initiate mechanisms and measures that are proactively extenuating. In our case, the National Drug Control Master Plan (NDCMP) 2021-2025, launched last November, has incorporated components that tend to the health concerns of drug abuse.”
He disclosed that in order to help drug users suffering in silence, the agency will soon be unveiling the NDLEA Call Centre that will be manned by professionals and experts in counselling, psychotherapy, psychology, psychiatry and more to offer help to drug users who will make use of the toll free lines to seek counselling 24/7, adding that this will also enable those afraid of stigmitisation to be able to seek help without necessarily being seen or identified by anyone.