By Prudence Arobani
New York, – The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has decried what it termed the high-level of abuse of tramadol and cough syrup among Nigerian youth and women.
NDLEA Chairman, retired Col. Muhammad Abdallah, said this while delivering Nigeria’s statement on ‘Crime Prevention, Criminal Justice and World Drug Problem’ at the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters, New York.
Abdallah said: “Nigeria is witnessing a high level of abuse of tramadol and cough syrups containing codeine, especially by vulnerable youths and women.
“This is a phenomenon common to many countries in the West-African sub-region which has ushered in a new level of transnational organised crimes.
“As a result, a lot of national and sub-regional initiatives, including capacity development, have been put in place to address the situation”.
Abdallah reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to fulfilling its obligations under relevant international instruments in the area of crime prevention, strengthening criminal justice and addressing world drug problem.
Given the linkage between drug abuse and crime perpetration, he said, Nigeria had stepped up the implementation of measures to combat the incidence of drug proliferation, trafficking and abuse.
”This is based on our conviction that strong national commitment and effective international collaboration and partnership are very critical to eliminating the menace of illicit drug flows, ”he stressed.
According to him, the is implementing a robust National Drug Control Master Plan (NDCMP 2015-2019) to address illicit drug supply and demand.
The NDLEA boss added that the agency was also countering money laundering and access to controlled narcotic drugs for medical and scientific purposes.
He said the ‘UNPLUGGED’ evidence-based school preventive programme that targeted ages 10 to14 years instituted in 2016 had witnessed the enrolment of 65 schools in its pilot project.
Unplugged is an evidence-based programme designed to equip young people with specific skills and resources that they need to resist social influences and to support knowledge about drugs and their adverse health consequences.
Abdallah noted the availability, access and control of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals for medical and scientific purposes.
He said the Nigerian Government had produced guidelines, in tandem with international standards, on realistic estimation and quantification needs assessment for required Narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursors for medical and scientific purposes.
The NDLEA boss also said Nigeria recognised the intricate link between sound and efficient criminal justice system, rule of law, eradication of corruption and development.
Abdallah said President Muhammadu Buhari, in his determination to stamp out corruption, has strengthened judicial institutions and made proper application of the rule of law the plank of his overall strategies for eradicating corruption and promoting national development.
He noted that the Nigerian Government had continued to make giant strides in the pursuit of comprehensive and holistic programmes geared toward crime prevention through efficient criminal justice system.
The NDLEA boss pledged that the agency would continue to adhere to principles such as equality before the law, accountability to the law and fairness in the application of the law.
“We reported to this gathering last year that Nigeria has brought its national legislation into compliance with the provision of Article 44 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) with the aim of not only enhancing our fight against corruption but also to combat other transnational organised crimes.
“Consequently and based on the strong signals from Nigeria on ending corruption in all its ramifications, the African Union has shown its resolve to combat corruption by declaring 2018 as the African Anti-Corruption Year and making President Muhammadu Buhari the Champion of the African Union Anti-Corruption.”
To counter money laundering and illicit proceeds of crime, Abdallah said Nigeria established Inter-ministerial Committee on Anti Money Laundering and Combating Financial Terrorism, he said.
Abdallah said the committee involved law enforcement and regulatory agencies, to facilitate and strengthen efficient cooperation, collaboration and coordination of control over illicit financial transaction by trans-national organised syndicates.
This collaboration has resulted in on-going forfeiture of several assets from ill gotten origin to the government, he said.
He also recalled that Nigeria signed into law the Financial Intelligence Unit Act in July, thus providing a more robust legal framework that granted greater autonomy, independence and confidentiality to the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit in its fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.
“It is gratifying to report that in recognition of this act, Nigeria was reinstated to the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units on Sept.26, 2018,” the NDLEA boss said.