A multi-sectoral five-year National Drug Control Master Plan (NDCMP) to provide an integrated, comprehensive roadmap for multi-sectoral interventions to address a wide array of drug related issues has been launched on Friday 26th June 2015, in Abuja. The launch coincided with the global celebration of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
The NDCMP master plan in line with international drug control conventions outlines activities that will help reduce the incidences of illicit cultivation, production, use, and trafficking of narcotic substances.
Speaking during the occasion, Alhaji Ahmadou Giade Chairman National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said that “the National Drug Control Master Plan (NDCMP) was borne out of the necessity to tackle holistically, the issue of Drug related offences in the country.”
While he noted that the master plan which was endorsed by former President Goodluck Jonathan on 22nd May 2015 was formulated in partnership with UNODC and 35- member Inter-Ministerial Committee(IMC) including Federal Ministry of Information. He said the implementation of the master plan will be for the period of 5 years (2015-2019) and its implementation would be a radical departure from the erstwhile Master plan introduced in 2008 – 2011.
Many will recall that the establishment of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) was by the promulgation of Decree Number 48 of 1989, now Act of Parliament, aimed at exterminating illicit drug trafficking and consumption in the Nigerian society. It is a well-known fact that any involvement in drugs, especially their importation, exportation, sale, transfer, purchase, cultivation, manufacture, extraction and possession is universally unacceptable. The establishment of the NDLEA was Nigeria’s deliberate attempt at joining the rest of the world in getting rid of this cankerworm within her borders
Though the Act does not endorse Capital Punishment, as did Decree No 20 of 1984, it however, aims at rendering offenders financially incapacitated apart from the long period of incarceration ranging from 15 to 25 years and sometimes, life imprisonment for producers and traffickers. Additionally, any organisation that colludes with offenders to perpetrate a drug offence or to conceal proceeds from the illicit drug trade is also liable on conviction to a term of 25 years imprisonment or two million Naira fine.
Other measures adopted in dealing with the drug scourge are contained in National Drug Law Enforcement (Amendment) Decree No 33 of 1990 which prescribes a jail term of five years for persons caught abroad for trafficking in drugs through Nigeria and by so doing bring the name of our great nation into disrepute.
It is important to note that apart from enforcing the responsibility of the provision of Decree 48 of 1989 NDLEA is also responsible for coordinating all drug laws and policies previously conferred on any statutory body in the country including campaign to check the abuse of narcotics and psychotropic substances. Some of these are:
- i) The coordination of all drug law and enforcement functions conferred on any person or authority; including Ministers in the Government of the Federation by any such laws;
- ii) Adoption of measures to identify, trace, freeze, confiscate or seize proceeds derived from drug related offences or property whose value correspond to such proceeds.
iii) Adoption of measures to eradicate illicit cultivation of narcotic plants and to eliminate illicit demand for narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances with a view of reducing human suffering and eliminating financial incentives for illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
- iv) Enhancement of effective legal means of international cooperation in criminal matters for suppressing international activities of illicit traffic in Nigeria.
- v) Collaboration with governmental and non-governmental bodies, both within and outside Nigeria in carrying out functions wholly or in part analogous to those of the Agency.
- vi) Control and supervision, and coordination of all the responsibilities, functions and activities relating to arrest, investigation and prosecution of all offences connected with or relating to illicit traffic in narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances notwithstanding
any law to the contrary. All drug units under existing institutions dealing with offenders or offences connected or relating to illicit traffic in narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances shall relate and be responsible to the Agency in performance of their duties.
According to Giade, “these responsibilities appear very huge, but it is noteworthy that the Agency has within 24 years of existence, after slight hitches, put in place a profound and well-grounded strategy to take care of the challenges posed by role assigned to her. The formulation of the NDCMP is no doubt one of the concrete measures aimed at flushing the country of the drug scourge towards improving the battered image of the country.”
Mrs Roli George NDLEA Director General believed that “the NDCMP will provide a solid platform to strengthen responses on drug –related issues that will promote health, security and well being of all Nigerians. She noted that the master plan proffers both integrated and comprehensive approach and outlines activities that will facilitate reduction of illicit cultivation, production, cultivation and abuse.”
According to the NDLEA DG, the NDCMP highlights the approaches for sustaining drug demand reduction programmes and the methodology for accessing drugs for licit use while preventing its diversion, “all these are outlined under four main pillars: a) law
enforcement, b) drug demand reduction, c) access and control of narcotics and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes, and, d) coordination.”
Roli George highlighted the various efforts of the Agency at combating drugs which she noted has been well acclaimed globally. She however noted that these successes have continued due to collaboration and cooperation with some friendly countries. Such countries include USA, Great Britain, South Africa, many other African countries and Thailand.
She commended the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the European Union (EU) for their financial and human resources support towards actualization of the 2015-2019 master plan.
The launching of the NDCMP attracted high profile individuals, NDLEAs former DGs and Board Chairmen, Ambassadors and the Country Representatives of the European Union and UNODC.
Speaking at the event UNODC Project Coordinator Glenn Prichard said UNODC is currently supporting the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Drug Control (IMCDC) to develop an operational plan and a monitoring and evaluation framework that will facilitate implementation of the Master Plan.
He noted that Nigeria is a transit point for heroin and cocaine intended for European, East Asian, and North American markets. Since 2004 drug traffickers have been increasingly using West African countries, including Nigeria, for smuggling large amounts of cocaine from South America into Europe and North America. The country has a relatively high rate of drug abuse due to the continued availability of illicitly manufactured and diverted pharmaceutical products containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. The most abused drug in West Africa is cannabis, mainly in its herbal form. Cannabis is locally produced all over the region and is therefore affordable.
In support of the Government of Nigeria, UNODC is implementing a European Union funded project, Response to Drugs and Related Organized Crime in Nigeria.