The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has called for stiffer penalties for drug trafficking by removing the option of fines for drug offenders.
The agency’s Chairman, Brigadier-General Buba Marwa (retd.), said this, according to a statement on Monday, during the Institute of Change Management’s annual dinner, in Lagos.
Marwa, who was represented by the Director, Seaport Operation, Omolade Faboyede, spoke on the theme, ‘Drug abuse in Nigeria: Changing the narrative.’
He said, “It is worrisome that we have some of our officers lose their lives in the course of battling with drug traffickers. But at the end of the day, some of these offenders when taken to court, are just fined and they later return to the same business.
“This is a worrisome trend that we are trying to correct in other to make the punishment stiffer.”
Marwa further explained that the drug problem in Nigeria is massive, adding that an aggressive reduction in drug supply should be embarked on.
He added, “The National Drug Use Survey 2018 indicated that 14.3 million Nigerians representing 14.4 per cent of the country’s population used psychoactive substances aside from alcohol.
As chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Drug Abuse, I had a clear view of the situation and what should be done to reverse the trend.
“Basically, we have to shut down the pipeline. That is, take the traffickers and their barons out of the picture. We have to embark on an aggressive drug supply reduction campaign.
“It is to this end that we launched the War Against Drug Abuse campaign which is meant to, in the long run, help prevent the entrenchment of drug abuse culture among young people in the society.”
Also, the President of ICM, Nathaniel Osewele, said the choice of the topic was informed by the need to further deepen the discourse on the increasing wave of misuse and abuse of hard drugs in the society, especially among youths.