BY MAYOWA SAMUEL
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has successfully jailed 5,147 persons found to have been engaged in drug and illicit substance offences.
According to the NDLEA authorities, the convicts are part of 31,675 suspects arrested by the agency in the past few years.
Chairman of the NDLEA, Brigadier General Buba Marwa (rtd.), disclosed this on Monday during the commemoration of the 2023 United Nations Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking, held at the State House Conference Centre, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Marwa also cautioned citizens against stigmatisation of people dealing with drug and illicit substance abuse and addiction, saying such behaviours could impede the rehabilitation of victims.
Marwa equally stated that victims of drug abuse and addiction, instead of being stigmatised, deserve society’s empathy and support, noting that they are also human beings with inherent dignity.
According to him, such persons deserve the understanding of the rest of society to embolden them to seek help and access to recovery support systems.
The NDLEA chief said by focusing on people first, stakeholders can recognise that individuals struggling with drug abuse are not defined solely by their addiction.
“They are human beings with inherent dignity, deserving of understanding, empathy, and support. Our prejudices hinder their access to healthcare, employment and social support systems.
“Hence, we must work to break down the barriers that prevent people from seeking help and foster an environment where they feel safe, respected, and encouraged to access the necessary treatments and interventions,” he said.
Marwa explained that a crucial part of this assignment is addressing stigma and discrimination in attitudes and practices that create additional hurdles for those seeking assistance.
“By raising awareness, educating communities, and promoting acceptance, we can challenge these harmful stereotypes and foster a society that embraces individuals on their path to recovery,” he said.
The theme for the 2023 commemoration was ‘People First: Stop Stigma and Discrimination, Strengthen Prevention’.
Present at the occasion were President Bola Tinubu represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, George Akume; Country Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Oliver Stolpe; Speaker of the House of Representatives, represented by the Deputy Speaker, Benjamin Kalu; Solicitor General of the Federation, Beatrice Jedy-Agba; representative of the Chairman of the MTN Foundation, Dennis Okoro, and Former Inspector-General of Police, Ogbonna Onovo.