By Hassan Zaggi
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has insisted that legalizing Cannabis will triple crime rate in the country.
The Director General of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa, stated this at the National Security Summit organised by the Crime Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CCAN), in Abuja, weekend.
The summit which was with the Theme: COVID-19, Drug Abuse, Mental health: Implication on national security, was funded by the African Health Budget Network. (AHBN).
While insisting that Cannabis is among the widely used substance in the country, Marwa noted that his agency will continue to be against any attempt to legalize the substance in the country.
Commenting on the impact of drug abuse on national security, the NDLEA Director General who was represented by Chidi Nduku, a director at the agency, said that, “records have shown that countries where people engage in the production and huge use of drugs are usually bedeviled with the creation of armed groups who in turn create territories outside the domain of effective law enforcement: seeking to control apparatus of legitimate governments.
“This situation hampers peace building initiatives as violent non- state actors thrive in insecurity. Eg. The situation in Nigeria with Boko Haram terrorists, Insurgents, cattle rustlers and kidnappers.
“These groups undermine counter- narcotic efforts and will require concerted efforts to dislodge.”
He, however, mentioned radicalization of youths, violent extremism and political thuggery as some of the outcomes being fueled by drug abuse.
Marwa further explained that since assumption of office in the past few months, his agency has successfully arrested over 4,896 drug traffickers and five major drug barons controlling different cartels across Nigeria; seized more than 2million kilogrammes of assorted illicit drugs; filled about 5,000 drug cases in court with over 500 convictions and 3,205 pending cases in court; 2,303 counseled and 469 rehabilitated and also seized cash and drug valued at over N90 billion.”
While delivering a lecture, the Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Admininistration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, said that the consequence of drug abuse has great implication on national security.
Represented by the Director of Narcotics and Control Substances of the agency, Dr. Umar Musa, the NAFDAC Director general said: “The consequences of drug abuse and the current reality make it necessary to think about national security in terms of the corporate existence of the nation and its ability to protect and promote all that is considered important and valuable. Drug abuse and mental health therefore pose real threat to national security.
“The future of our dear country depends on the nature and quality of youth that we produce today.
“A child that grows up under frustrating conditions will develop psychological problems with time and possibly become dangerous as an adult.”
While calling for effective collaboration in order to arrest the menace of drug abuse, Prof. Adeyeye said: “Even though it is primarily a public health problem, drug abuse no doubt undermines national stability and security.
“In countering the world drug problem, the international community has recognized that this is one problem that cannot be addressed effectively if it is not addressed collectively.”
Speaking, the Coordinator of Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), Dr. Aminu Magashi Garba, insisted that “COVID-19 has created lock down, isolation, social distancing and affected people that are depressed (mental health), and also complicated the issue of drug abuse. If somebody losses job due to the COVID-19, there will be depression and that person could go into drug abuse. People that are into drug abuse have the tendency to commit crime because they are not doing anything. That affects the national security.
“We are here to galvanise action among the media, the Nigeria Police Force and the NDLEA, NAFDAC and we that are in the Civil Society so that we can work together and curtail crime that are related to COVID-19, mental health and drug abuse.
In a goodwill message, the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), in charge of zone 7, Bala Ciroma, called for collaboration among stakeholders in order to fight the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and drug abuse in all dimensions.
Represented by the Area Commander Metro ACP, Nurudeen Sabo, AIG Ciroma said: “It is worthy of note that, in our capacity as the front line law enforcement agencies we have taken necessary measures in ensuring due compliance with the COVID-19 regulations and worked closely with sister security agencies to tackle the menace of drug abuse through constant operations and raids on drug spots.
“Furthermore, we are collaborating with stakeholders in the medical sector to have a sensitization drive on the need for a balanced mental health.