High rate of hard drugs consumption responsible for violent crimes in Nigeria, NDLEA laments
By Amaechi Okonkwo, Port Harcourt.
The Rivers State Chapter of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA has blamed the increasing wave of attacks and violent crimes on the high rate of drugs consumption and abuse by Nigerian youths.
Commandant of the Agency in the State, Ambassador Rachael Shelleng revealed that besides the challenges of loss of jobs and crash of the economy, the Covid-19 pandemic provoked heavy consumption pattern among the Nigerian youths.
Shelleng, who made the disclosure in Port Harcourt when the leadership of the Correspondent’s Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ) paid her a visit to understand how the drugs war was shaping on in the state explained that the drug dealers turned to heavy consumers because they could not move across various States to peddle drugs adding that the situation also led to cheapness of hard drugs and thus availability to consumers who seemed to sit all day consuming drugs due to movement restrictions imposed during the lockdown.
According to her, “Drugs also fuel terrorism such as Boko Haram and those who boldly attack police stations. When we catch them, you need to see how they break down the moment the effect of drugs wears out. They hardly show the same zeal they had before the attacks.”
The Commandant who wondered if most states knew how deeply drugs had eaten into their societies and the full impact of drug abuse in their areas and thus the value of fighting drugs they would have pumped more resources and articulated robust policies for a full scale war against drugs maintained;
“It is having devastating impact on parents. Often, they come here to report very bad cases involving their wards and you need to see them weeping. The US does not joke with drug issues. Nigeria has moved from being a (drug) courier nation to a drug consumer nation”.
She lamented over lack of provision of adequate logistics support such as vehicles to the agency to enable them go after identified drug barons and commended the Rivers State government for donating three vehicles to them, while calling for the donation of more vehicles to help the agency in the onerous task of combatting drug-related crimes in the State.
“Our operatives are ready to give the drug barons a fight but logistics challenges cause huge drawback. We know that the Federal Government knows the importance of fighting drug abuse though it also has its financial constraints. That is why we plead with the States to work closely with the NDLEA State commands to deepen the fight, she encouraged.
While proffering solutions to the menace of drug crimes and abuse, Shelleng blamed idleness after graduation for the menace. “Young men finish school and remain unemployed for years. They soon suffer depression and begin to embrace drugs. So, unemployment is fuelling drug abuse. They are rather victims and they get caught and wasted by security agencies.”
The State Commandant therefore pleaded with governments at all levels to elevate job creation as an urgent task. “As a matter of urgency, don’t allow the youths to remain idle. It is an explosive situation. Let job creation be the new focus of every government, not just as a social benefit but now as a security measure”, she suggested.
Earlier, the leader of delegation of journalists, Amaechi Okonkwo, explained that Correspondents were crucial in reporting the fight against drug abuse calling for greater collaboration between the agency and journalists in the State just as he maintained that most of the incidents were under-reported.