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Buba Marwa: NDLEA has rehabilitated over 11,000 drug users, arrested 10 barons

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No fewer than 11,000 drug users have been rehabilitated by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) between 2021 and 2022.

Also, the agency has arrested 10 drug barons and convicted one of them.

NDLEA boss, Brig General Buba Marwa (Rtd) made the disclosure while briefing newsmen in Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja as part of weeklong activities to mark this year’s United Nations’ Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking or World Drug Day, is marked on June 26, every year, to strengthen action and cooperation in achieving the goal of a world free of drug abuse.

This year’s event, which is in partnership with the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), is targeted at addressing the challenges of drug in Health and humanitarian crisis globally.

He said now the world is looking more at the dangerous health issues posed by drug trafficking and abuse.

Marwa said the theme “Addressing Drug Challenges in Health and Humanitarian Crises” was coming at the right time when viewed with what is going on in the system following the dangers of drugs in Nigeria.

He noted that the world was looking more at the dangerous health issues posed by drug trafficking and abuse rather than criminalizing users.

“In 2021, about 8,000 drug users were counseled 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 counseled and treated in NDLEA facilities,” Marwa said.

“Simultaneously, we have continued to shut the tap of illicit flow of drugs with the arrest of over 17,647 offenders including 10 drug barons between January 2021 and May 2022; more than 2,369 convicted and jailed within the same period while 154,667.339kg drugs have been seized in the first five months of this year alone.

“Similarly, our Drug Demand Reduction Department has been galvanized and working non-stop to ensure that the health aspect of the drug abuse calculus is getting adequate attention.

“In the same vein, the Agency’s policy of Drug Integrity Test is predicated on getting help to drug users suffering in silence because they cannot seek the needed health treatment due to social stigma and discrimination.

“This is why in a short while from now, we’ll be unveiling the NDLEA Call Centre that will be manned by professionals and experts in counseling, psychotherapy, psychology, psychiatry and more to offer help to drug users who will make use of our toll-free lines to seek counseling 24/7. This will also enable those afraid of stigmitisation to be able to seek help without necessarily being seen or identified by anyone.

“Even as we rev up our drug supply reduction offensive, it is certain that we are not relenting on getting help to those suffering from drug use disorder.”

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.”

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