By Emma Njoku

Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (retd) said the agency has arrested no fewer than 48,157 drug traffickers in the last three years under his watch.

NDLEA Director, Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, in a statement, yesterday, said Marwa made the disclosure when the United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Mrs Amina Mohammed, paid him a courtesy visit at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja.

He said: “With the dire consequences of the menace steering us in the face, upon my assumption of leadership in 2021, we have moved swiftly to halt the spiral turn of the situation.

“Between then and end of 2023, we have been able to make over 48,157 arrests, including 46 drug barons with a total of 8,350 already successfully prosecuted and convicted.

“7,500 tons of illicit drugs were seized from them and 1,057 hectares of cannabis farms destroyed deep in the forests in parts of the country,” he said.

Marwa said the agency had put in place strong mechanisms to raise public awareness about the dangers of drug abuse, through the War Against Drug Abuse, a social advocacy campaign.

“In addition, we provide treatment and counselling to users in our commands across the country, through which we have been able to counsel and treat over 29, 400 people within the same period.

“This is why your coming today affords us the opportunity to share with you, some of the things you can use your good office and the huge platform of the UN to facilitate, to enhance what we are doing and plan to achieve

“They include but not limited to the following: Conduct of another drug use survey that will give us a better assessment of where we’re now six years after the last survey.

“Procurement of mechanical tools to destroy cannabis farms as against the current manual system; procurement of incinerators to destroy tons of illicit drugs seized as against the current open air burning which is not good for the environment and public health.

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“Support for our alternative development programme and modern forensic equipment needed in our old and new labs, among others,” he said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has assured the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) of appropriate support to successfully curb substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in Nigeria.

UN Deputy Secretary General, Mrs Amina Mohammed, who gave the assurance said the global body was willing to enhance the significant efforts of the agency in curtailing the menace of illicit drugs in the society.

“On behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, we want to reconfirm our support from the United Nations to the work of this agency.

“The chairman has spoken about the needs, and we are very pleased to hear that everyone is doing a very good job, and we hope that we can increase the impact.”

Mohammed added that “what we want to do is support with whatever that we can, to ensure a greater and better Nigeria that takes its position not only in Africa, but worldwide”.

Earlier, Marwa had welcomed the UN chief to the NDLEA for the historic visit, the first by the highest echelon of the global body.

He said: “We not only commend you for this but, also, in equal measure, your string of impressive achievements, whether as minister at home or at the global stage, where you’re currently serving as Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations.

“Thank you for being a shining light and a good ambassador of not only Nigeria, but the African continent and, indeed, the black race world over”.

Marwa noted that the twin problem of substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking still pose serious threat to public health and national security in spite of the agency’s efforts at drug supply reduction and supply.