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President tasks Africa’s anti-narcotic agencies on scaling up efforts, partnerships

By Terhemba Daka, Tina Abeku (Abuja) and Bertram Nwannekanma (Lagos)
27 September 2023   |   4:04 am
President Bola Tinubu has implored Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies, Africa (HONLEA) to collectively renew strategies towards fight against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking on the continent.

Vice President Kashim Shettima (left); Chairman/Chief Executive Officer,NDLEA, Brig. Mohammed Buba Marwa (rtd); Secretary of the Conference, Regina Rourbach and Country representative of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Oliver Stolpe during the 31st meeting of Heads of Nation Law Enforcement Agencies in Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA<br />

President Bola Tinubu has implored Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies, Africa (HONLEA) to collectively renew strategies towards fight against substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking on the continent.
   
He made this known while declaring open the 31st meeting of HONLEA, hosted by National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), in partnership with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in Abuja, yesterday.
   


He said the continent would remain in chains till it breaks free from shackles of the criminal enterprises of drug barons and syndicates of illicit drugs.
   
“If we don’t dismantle the criminal enterprises that threaten our future and build a brighter tomorrow for all Africans, we will remain in chains in a diseased and amoral world, as will our children and their children,” he told chiefs of the anti-narcotics agencies.
   
In his keynote address, titled ‘Rising above the Drug Threat’, the President, who was represented by Vice President Kashim Shettima, observed that Africa was “at the mercy of a threat that knows neither race nor geography, neither gender nor social class”. 
   
He, therefore, enjoined the heads to consider the conference as a ray of hope and a catalyst for positive change across the continent.
   
Earlier, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (represented by Director, International Criminal Justice Cooperation, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Nkiruka Jones-Nebo), said: “It is imperative that this conference remains proactive in addressing the legal complexities that may impede seamless cooperation in intelligence sharing, joint operations, and training.”

“These barriers must be dismantled to prevent any loopholes that could potentially facilitate the activities of drug cartels operating across our borders. The Federal Ministry of Justice stands committed to providing unwavering support and efficient systems to empower NDLEA in its mission.”
   
Country Representative, UNODC, Oliver Stolpe, said the drug problem has changed from what it used to be 20 years ago. 
   
“Today, the picture is different. Local consumption is increasing, and increasingly problematic. We need a balanced approach to supply and demand reduction. We need to invest in prevention and in treatment. And, we need alternatives to imprisonment for drug users that are more effective and help in decongesting prisons,” he said.