By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos
No fewer than 4, 349 kilogrammes of assorted drugs were seized on Lagos inland waterways between January and May, 2022, the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Drug Law and Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa has disclosed.
Marwa made the disclosure Wednesday at a Town Hall Meeting themed ” Evalving Drug-Free Port”, organised by Journal Ng in Lagos at the Rickview Hotel, Apapa, Lagos.
Represented by Ameh Inalegwu, Commander, Apapa Port, Marwa hinted that the figure was in addition to the two commercial vessels that were seized in November, 2021 in connection with illicit drugs importation.
The seizure of 74.119 kilograms (451, 807 tablets) of “jihadist drug” known as Captagon at Apapa Port, held everybody spell bound.
He said, “Drug abuse, like the motor accident does not just happen. It is caused by a number of factors, chiefly: availability, affordability and accessibility.
“Incidentally, the Maritime Industry is at the heart of these components.Several arrests and seizures have been made aboard vessels laden with huge quantities of illicit drugs at the ports.
“Apart from Cannabis sativa that is known to be cultivated in commercial quantities, the seizure of pharmaceutical opiates like Tramadol being exported from Nigeria points at something: how did these large quantities of drugs get into Nigeria? We can say with certainty that a huge portion of these drugs come into the Country through the water ways.
Earlier, he lamented the great danger threatening Nigeria especially the youths because of the drug scourge which according to him, requires collaborative intervention.
While citing a 2018 survey, Marwa stated that drug prevalence in Nigeria cut across all ages, adding that 14.3 million Nigerians between ages 15-64 years use psychoactive substances.
This, according to the survey, means one in seven persons had used a drug in the past year.
He therefore called on all hands to be on deck saying, “We now have to adopt a whole-society and a joined-hands approach.
“For us to treasure the imperatives of concerted efforts, we must first of all appreciate the enormity or magnitude of the drug malady stirring us in the face,” he submitted.
On curtailing the menace, he said, “The overarching objective of our renewed campaigns is to create a critical mass of resistance against drugs through massive awareness drive, institutional strengthening and empowerment of the vulnerable youth population.
“We must therefore set the machinery in motion to aggressively reverse the trend and to achieve this, we need to activate both demand and supply reduction measures. We must see drug control as a shared responsibility and every facet of the society must take ownership.
“The good news is that the drug supply reduction strategy that we initiated in the last one year is succeeding in crushing the drug supply chain thereby creating scarcity of the illicit substances and curtailing availability.
“NDLEA has equally resolved to maintain a strong presence at the Ports which explains the monumental drug seizures and the series of engagements of stakeholders, ranging from Bonded Terminal Owners/Operators, Shipping Lines and Agencies and other critical stakeholders within the Maritime Sector.
“The task of keeping the Ports drug-free is the primary responsibility of the operators in the Maritime Industry. For this to happen, we must realize the fact that the economy and security of the nation rest heavily on the shoulders of Maritime Industry, whereas the nexus between the economy, security and drugs is well documented.
“Stakeholders at the Ports must be able to resist the lure of lucre viz-a-viz the temptations of what illicit drug traffickers offer. No amount of money is compared with the sanctity of human life. Maritime operators need to elevate their level of collaboration and cooperation with NDLEA. The intelligent hints on the clandestine activities of these unscrupulous elements who depend on the movement of ships to ply their trade will go a long way in exposing and frustrating them.
“We must admit that NDLEA cannot go it alone, hence our call for concerted efforts. Today’s engagement is therefore a welcome development.”