The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has vowed not to stop burning down farms used for cannabis cultivation in Ondo State.
Chairman of the agency, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (retd) stated this at the unveiling of a week-long of activities to commemorate the United Nations International Day Against Drug and Illicit Drug Trafficking in Abuja yesterday.
Marwa who was reacting to the suggestion that the growth of cannabis be legalised in the country as it is a money-yielding business declared: “The fact of the issue is one between saving lives and making money. From the drug survey of the United Nations Department on Drugs (UNODC), 10.6 million Nigerians use drugs and it will be 20million in 2030. We are the highest users of cannabis in the world and the consequences are there for everyone to see.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) says usage of cannabis has health issues. With Nigeria having the highest prevalence ratio, this is not the time to be talking about legalizing the illicit drug. Ondo State is the greatest producer if this substance and NDLEA will continue to burn down any farm or production site where we find this drug in accordance with the law. It is dangerous to our health and it has dire consequences”
Commenting on the activities of some traditional rulers alleged to be conniving with, or providing cover for illicit drug traffickers and producers, Marwa said, “Traditional Rulers are not exempted from the law. On one or two occasions, when we seized drugs from palaces, we arrested the traditional rulers and they are facing the music. So nobody is exempted but we are partnering with majority of the traditional rulers and state governments through advocacy visits to tackle the menace”.
Marwa dismissed claims that some personnel of NDLEA were re-selling seized drugs to drug barons and others saying “NDLEA staff do not sell drugs which are seized. They are our exhibits which we use in court for prosecution. We have exhibit keepers who are trusted and well selected. We have not had NDLEA staff apprehended for selling drugs”.
Meanwhile, he said June 26 was set aside as the United Nations as International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking.
He said the theme for this year is ‘Share facts on drugs, save lives.’
“The theme is very significant considering the unquantifiable and enormous danger posed by substance abuse. Abuse of narcotics has incapacitated the workforce of organizations and ruined communities and societies. It has brought about family disintegration, decimated the capacities of our youths and given rise to all types of crimes such as insurgency, terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, rape and violent extremism which have befallen nations including our dear country Nigeria with attendant health consequences on the users.
“The dynamism of the drug problem has made it imperative for us to continue to deepen our knowledge and understanding of this deleterious conundrum. In this regard, sharing facts about drug abuse and illicit trafficking in narcotics, as captured by this year’s theme, will go a long way in shedding some light on hitherto hidden factors that aid predisposition to substance abuse, especially the question of new psychoactive substances.
“Drug abuse as an enabler of all forms of criminality is a hydra-headed monster that must be crushed if we must move forward as a nation. The solution lies in having hyper-efficient anti-drug machinery, which is what the NDLEA stands for.
“To win the drug war, NDLEA must synergize with other law enforcement and sister agencies and stakeholders for maximum impact. The simplest contribution that we ask of every patriotic citizen is what is captured by the theme of this year’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking: Share facts on drugs, save lives,” he added.