The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency NDLEA today joined other nations all over the world to commemorate this year’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, saying that no fewer than seven million people in Nigeria suffer various effects of illicit use of drugs.

The agency also said that in addition to more than seven million people suffering from illicit drug use disorder, one in every four deaths can be attributed to alcohol, tobacco and illicit prescription drugs.

Meanwhile, Founder of the National Association of Government Approved Agency, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam has charged the management of the NDLEA to step up its anti-illicit drug use education as well as increasing its Corporate Social Responsibility CSR efforts in order to bring it closer to the Nigerian people.

The United Nations has set aside June 26 every year to mark the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The theme for this year’s celebration is “Better Knowledge for Better care”.

The agency’s Director, seaport operations, Omolade Faboyede, who delivered a goodwill message on behalf of the Chairman /CEO, Col Muhammad Abdallah (rtd) as part of events to mark the international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking, warned against the dire consequences of drug abuse.

Citing the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime UNODC, she defined drug trafficking as an illegal trade that involves the production, selling, distributing and purchase of illicit narcotics. Available statistics show that there are over 200million illicit drug users worldwide and the number continues to grow every day. It was also gathered that about 190,000 people die due to illicit drugs every year.

Records also show that since mid-2000, West Africa has emerged a transit point for trafficking of cocaine from South America to Europe, while the UNODC estimate that $1.25 billion worth of cocaine passed the region in 2010 alone, even as recent drug trafficking as witnessed a massive movement of Cannabis Sativa from Ghana to Nigerian waters at an alarming rate.

The Director also warned that drug trafficking is a threat to human live, national development and security. She listed such drugs to include Cocaine, Heroin, Morphine, Cannabis Sativa and Crystal Methamphetamine.

She also noted that though these drugs are trafficked by air and land, trafficking through the sea has been a security problem for all countries of the region because it involves the movement of large quantity drugs. According to her, the trafficking of narcotic drugs by sea has virtually become an industry comprised of many individual enterprises of varying size and organisations, in order to being an attraction for major international criminal organisations and terrorists.

This therefore informed the need to improve the understanding of the world drug problem and foster greater international cooperation for countering its impact on health, governance and security.

“The International day celebration is not only to educate on public issues of concern but to mobilise political will and resources to address and to celebrate the reinforced achievements of humanity. Drugs are chemicals that affect the body and brain. Some effects of drugs include health consequences that are long lasting and permanent. They can continue after a person has stopped using drugs.

“Drugs can eventually change how the brain works and interfere with a person’s ability to make choices, leading to intense cravings and compulsive drug use. Over time the person becomes dependent or addicted.

“More than seven million people suffer from illicit drug use disorder and one in every four deaths can be attributed to alcohol, tobacco and illicit prescription drugs. People suffering from drugs and alcohol addiction are victims of unintentional injuries, accidents and domestic violence.

“They are paranoia, aggressive, hallucinate, impulsive, loss of self-control and their judgments are impaired. The good news is that a drug user can be treated, rehabilitated and reintegrated into the society. The maritime stakeholders should endeavor to give their workers and seafarers drug abuse education and treatment for affected staff. Drug trafficking tarnishes the image of a country, impact negatively on the security, economy and the well-being of such country. It is a tool for terrorism financing, corruption inducement, political instability and undermines economic development and increases the level of insecurity and drug related crimes”, the Director also said.

She therefore urged the Nigerian government to develop the political will to tackle the issue of drug trafficking, the supervising agency; adding that the NDLEA should be strengthen and adequately funded to combat drug abuse and trafficking in the country.

The NAGAFF, who sent a goodwill message to the agency, enjoined it to embark on massive education and enlightenment for Nigerians on the dangers and negative effects of illicit drugs and other narcotics.

He also advised the agency to adopt the strategy of carrying out CSR projects in relevant communities as a way of bringing close Nigerians so as to dissuade them from illicit drug trafficking and abuse.