THE MENACE OF DRUG TRAFFICKING AMID ECONOMIC HARDSHIP IN NIGERIA
Drug trafficking poses one of the most dangerous threats to Nigerians lives, national development and security.
Nigeria’s porous borders to its neighbouring countries gives room for easy influx, movement and exit of drugs.
The failing economy, insecurity, high rate of graduate unemployment, poverty, failure of Government to provide basic necessities of life, high level of corruption and get-rich-quickly syndrome among the youths in Nigeria, constitute the various banes behind the practice of illicit drug trafficking.
Trafficking of heroin and cocaine has become a serious social problem in Nigeria in the last decade and is second only to politics as the country's most serious social problem.
Nigerians traveling abroad are suspected as possible drug couriers, and the United States has put Nigeria on its list of decertified countries.
The United States is the single most important consumer of hard drugs that pass through Nigeria; the continuing demand means that the drug trade will continue to boom.
A 2012 report by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), states that Nigeria tops the list with the highest trafficking and drug use in Africa.
This indicates that in the last 15 years, West Africa became the new transit hub and focal point for cocaine compared to Latin America destined for Europe with Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos emerging as the epicentre for air trafficking of cocaine.
Close to 50% of Africa’s drug couriers arrested in Europe in 2011 were of Nigerian citizens. Nigeria is reported to have featured prominently among West African states that produce and export cannabis to countries in Europe.
As at January 2019, the number of drug users in Nigeria is estimated at 14.4 per cent or 14.3 million people aged between 15 and 64 years according to the results of the National Drug Use Survey.
The data suggests that the prevalence of past year drug use in Nigeria is more than twice the global average of 5.6 per cent.
According to the UNODC Assessment of Transnational Organized Crime in West Africa Report in 2013, Nigerian tracking syndicates based in Brazil and other places in South America remain active in cocaine.
These syndicates import cocaine through containerized consignments, maritime shipping, air couriering and postal shipments.
HAS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT REDUCED DRUG TRAFFICKING IN NIGERIA?
The Nigerian Government has used many legal, social, and economic strategies to address the problem; none has effectively addressed its causes.
However, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has experienced some successes in the last few years. Some of which are listed below;
As at June 25th, 2020, the NDLEA had arrested 288 drug traffickers in Abia State. The agency also said 107 drug dealers were arrested in 2019.
On August 6th, 2020, the Nigeria Police Force intercepted a container of tramadol and codeine.
They have seized 3,546.632 kilograms of hard drugs from January to July 2020 in Abuja.
Also, on August 10th, 2020, Operatives of Operation Puff adder stormed the hideout where criminals gather to smoke cocaine and hard drugs.
DRUG TRAFFICKING; A THREAT TO HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, NATION BUILDING AND SECURITY
Asides tarnishing Nigeria’s image as a nation, it has also impacted on the security, economy and well-being of Nigerians.
The proceeds from drug trafficking can potentially be a source of funding for terrorist sects in Nigeria, and the activities of these groups can have prolonged conflicts, instability, insecurity, and violence.
There have been some interesting revelations surrounding drug traffickers in Nigeria and Africa.
Nigerians make it overseas mainly in Asia; return home to buy cars, lodge in hotels, and build mammoth houses.
What many do not know are the tales of sorrow, pain, anguish, torture, and blood-spilling behind it.
We now see stories and videos trending online where Nigerians now use one another as human collaterals in the drug trafficking industry.