Since the establishment of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) as a Federal agency in Nigeria, charged with eliminating the growing, processing, manufacturing, selling, exporting, and trafficking of hard drugs backed by Decree Number 48 of 1989, the agency had been battling with the menance of drug abuse as one of the societal ills militating against development in Nigeria.
The agency had been collaborating asiduosly with international organizations in their efforts against drug abuse, trafficking and related ills in the society. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) an arm of the United Nations has set aside 26 June every year for nations to commemorate and highlight the dangers of drug use and illegal trade in illicit drugs.
Marking this international day, the theme for year 2020 edition is tagged “Better Knowlegde for Better Care” as the international body seek better education as a tool for ending illicit drugs in the society. To this effect, the Kwara command of the NDLEA organized a press briefing to sensitize Kwarans on the challenge posed by drug abuse and also state operational challenge it faces in dealing with its statutory assignment.
Addressing Journalists at the command headquarters, Ilorin, the State Commander, Ambrose Umoru roled out some of the commands achievements in the last one year and as well lamented the challenges faced both in its operation and those posed by the environment in which the command operates.
Umoru commended the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, CFR for his assistance in alleviating the challenge of the command by laying the foundation for the construction of a rehabilitation centre for the command, stating that the command has logistic and structural needs which hinder its operation. He called on good spirited individuals and organizations to emulate the traditional ruler in coming to the aid of his command in the interest of the general society.
He also commended wife of the Governor of Kwara State, Her Excellency, (Dr) Mrs Olufolake AbdulRazaq, Matron of the State Drug Control Committee for standing solidly in support of the drug war in the state.
Presenting a score card of accomplishments in the year under review, Ambrose Umoru stated that there were a total of Five thousand, eight hundred and eighty kilogrammes (5,880,947KG) of assorted illicit drugs, (Canabis Sativa, Tramadol, Codein Syrup, etc) seizures along with the arrest of three hundred and eighty suspects among which are Three hundred and four males, (304) and Seventy Six (76) females.
He also hinted that a total of One hundred and thirty eight (138) persons that abuse drugs were arrested, counseled and reintegrtated with their families aside the eight (8) convictions and eighteen (18) pending cases in the courts.
Umoru lamented the increasing number of women involvement in the sale of illicit drugs using several hideouts that one may not find easy to suspect.
“In the operations executed by the command from January 202 to date, out of 195 suspects arrested, 49 of them were females. Some of the females were arrested in their provision stores and some others in their homes which they have turned into hideouts for the sale of illicit drugs. It is shocking that more women are getting involved in the sale of Tramadol and Codein syrup among others in the state,” he said.
The State Commander who said that there is a direct relationship between drug abuse and crime rate in the society promised that the Command will continue to carry out its statutory fight against drug abuse using global best practices while also commending the various colaboratory roles of sister security agencies in achieving the commands objectives.
Responding to questions from journalist, Ambrose Umoru stated that though challenges are normal in the course of any assignment he but notwithstanding emumerated the challenges of his command ranging from logistics to cover the seven area commands to which the state had been delineated stressing that crime fighting as reaching those far areas as Kaiama, Ilesha Baruba and Chikanda in the extremes of the state is an arduous task.
The Narcotic officer acknowledge the role of some politicians who engage youths under the influence of drugs to commit crime in the name of thugery but explained that not all politicians engage in such acts adding that politicians are human and can be infallible like every other persons.
He made mention of some societal peculiarities in Kwara as some people want to commit crime but would not want to be prosecuted for their crimes adding that as law enforcement agents, the command will do its work without fear or favour.
He concluded that despite the enormous challenges militating against the command, he would continue to do his best in his fight against drug abuse in the state.
In her contributions, the state Chairperson, Drug Control Committee, Pharmacist Barakat Olarewaju highlighted the position of the committeeas as multi sectoral in nature as its operation cuts across ministries, security agencies, NGOs and others working for a common purpose of eliminating drug abuse in the society.
She enumerated some of her committee activities which includes provision of factual information on drug abuse to the most vulnerable groups in the state and the general public.
Olarewaju commended the state government for the donation of a 14 seater bus to the committee in January 2020 to alleviate its mobility challenges when on advocacy visits to the nooks and crany of the state.
She added that her committee had visited more than twelve traditional rulers on advocacy visits, seeking their support in the fight against drug abuse epidemics and assisted in establishing state drug control committees in other states as an essential support mechanism for the NDLEA.