The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has said that Nigeria cannot emulate other countries legalising cannabis cultivation and usage due to the evil it would bring to the country.
The Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd), said this on Friday when he hosted a delegation of Media Trust management, led by the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of Media Trust Group (MTG), Mounir Gwarzo, in his office.
According to him, the drug scourge concerns all Nigerians.
Marwa said, “It is everywhere. And it’s actually the number one problem because it’s also at the root of criminalities: the insurgents, the terrorists, bandits.
“We have about 15m Nigerians that use drugs and that is a very high prevalence which is approaching three times the global prevalence. When you talk drug, it is everywhere; every community has this problem and it’s now in families and neighborhoods. It’s critical for all of us as stakeholders to stand up and face this challenge.
“And it is in view of this that the President launched the war against drug abuse last year. The purpose of the war against drug abuse is to sensitize and make Nigerians themselves take the ownership of this war as their own personnel war because we’re all affected.”
He said that Nigerians must prioritise the anti-drug war to avoid the prediction of the United Nations (UN) that in another 20 years, the 15m drug users in the country may double.
“In the US, about 28 states have actually lifted the ban on cannabis. But only yesterday (Thursday) I was watching President Biden was in the process of lifting the ban. The circumstances are actually different.
“First of all, it is the law in Nigeria that possession of illicit substances is a crime. And now, it is left to the judgement of the judges to determine whether the possession elicits whatever punishment they deem fit.
“We in the NDLEA recognize it as a crime possession but also determined, using up all templates, whether the person who possesses (it) is dealing or is consuming it himself.
“We tend to not criminalise and punish users; ordinary users, if that’s what they’re doing. What we do, instead, we treat them and I think this point is very important to the medicare. So, of about 18,900 arrests in the course of my tenure so far over, over 12,000 were counselled and treated.
“You would hear that we jailed over 2,904. In fact, the number is rising because only yesterday (Thursday) in Lagos, over 20 convictions were achieved and people look at that direction. But actually, we do even more in the treatment of those who are in possession, and we have to be very clear.”
Marwa also commended the Media Trust for creating a niche based on competence, ethics and professionalism.
“You have in a short space of time established yourselves and you have expanded not only in the print that we all know, you’re online, radio and television, which we all watch. We wish you much success. And we appreciate the coverage we are getting as well,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Gwarzo, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Media Trust Group (MTG), commended the NDLEA for the successes recorded by the agency.
“I am very happy to see that NDLEA is doing extremely well. My chairman gave me a message to you: that the Daily Trust has been covering the excellent activities you have been doing and we want to continue to partner with you and we want to continue to do what is right for the country.
“And to also inform you that Media Trust is no more limited to the newspaper. We have television, we have the digital, and we have radio; all these are aimed at deepening our services and providing more platforms for the public.
“We believe that the excellent work you have been doing, and believe your organisation would leverage these platforms and we are ready to support you,” Gwarzo said.