Nigeria records increasing trend of drug abuse: vice president

By Tunji

ABUJA, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Nigeria is recording an increasing trend of drug abuse, especially in areas of conflict and in post-conflict settings, such as among the internally displaced persons and in refugee camps, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said on Monday.

This trend has become a "special concern" to the Nigerian authorities, Osinbajo said at an event organized in commemoration of the 2022 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.

"As we are in the throes of civil conflict and terrorism, resulting in the displacement of large numbers of our population, the problem is a hydra head," Osinbajo said, noting the prevalence of drug abuse in Nigeria called for attention.

He called on the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and other stakeholders to step up efforts toward breaking illicit drug supply and distribution chains while also commending the agency for an impressive number of drug users it had counseled and rehabilitated in the past 12 months.

"The expressed vision of the NDLEA goes beyond getting more drug criminals arrested; it is to have no drug criminals at all. We must therefore deepen the effort. Relentlessly breaking illicit drug supply chains and distribution networks; discouraging drug use through intensive outreach and sensitization, and also promptly prosecuting traffickers," he said.

According to the vice president, in the first half of the year alone, over 11,000 drug users have been counseled and treated.

He said that there must be a multi-dimensional and holistic approach to tackling drug abuse.

On his part, Oliver Stolpe, the country representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said that the UN had renewed its commitment to ending the scourge and supporting those who fell victim to it.

From January to May, at least 5,341 drug offenders have been arrested across Nigeria, out of which 984 have been already convicted, according to Buba Marwa, head of the NDLEA.

Marwa said in the past five months, the anti-narcotic agency had also seized 154,667 kilograms of drugs, and destroyed 276 hectares of cannabis farms in deep forests across the country.

Last year, 12,306 drug offenders were arrested and 1,385 of them were convicted by the NDLEA, the official added.

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