Nigeria: One in Every Seven Nigerians Addicted to Drugs - Marwa

"One in seven Nigerians take drugs. We have found out that there is a nexus between drug use and crime," Mr Marwa says.

Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Buba Marwa, has said one in every seven Nigerians is addicted to drugs.

Mr Marwa said this when he paid Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu a courtesy visit at the Lagos House, Marina, on Wednesday.

Mr Marwa is a former military administrator of Lagos State.

Mr Marwa, who commended Mr Sanwo-Olu's administration for efforts to address drug abuse, called for integrity drug tests for students and politicians, especially those contesting for public offices.

"Running for public offices is a big responsibility. You shouldn't be in this important assignment for the public and your head is filled up because of drugs, & said the NDLEA boss who, on Tuesday, said about 4.5 million people in the state are into illicit drug business.

"The drug scourge is now an epidemic in Nigeria. The prevalence is 15 per cent, three times the global average.

"One in seven Nigerians take drugs. We have found out that there is a nexus between drug use and crime.

"We felt that Lagos can show the way first with integrity drug test for students because it is our youths that are affected mostly; students, especially those in tertiary institutions, should do drug tests," Mr Marwa said.

He also commended the governor for providing effective leadership in Lagos state and for managing COVID-19 in the state.

"I want to use this opportunity to commend you for the excellent manner you are running the affairs of the state.

"It is quite a complex assignment and you are doing very well. In fact, it is because of your proactive nature on COVID -19 matter that we are here today.

"It would have been worse but you picked it up with both hands and dealt with it; now, we are all benefitting. We are grateful for this foresight," Mr Marwa said.

Efforts to curb drug abuse in Lagos

Meanwhile, the governor said the state is building a full-fledged mental health rehabilitation hospital at Ketu-Ejinrin, Lagos East Senatorial District, to tackle drug abuse effects.

Mr Sanwo-Olu said drug abuse was prevalent in the society and the hospital would help to rehabilitate those adversely affected by the abuse.

He said the state government would continue to collaborate with NDLEA to address the drug crisis in Nigeria.

According to him, the state government has put in place some measures, among which is building a mental health rehabilitation hospital, to tackle the drug crisis in the state.

"Indeed, we know that drug abuse is prevalent in our society in all forms and shapes. For us as a government, it is not something we are sweeping under the carpet. We are not denying that it is there.

"Part of the things we are doing to tackle it, is to ensure that we have functional and working rehabilitation centres, and we are equipping them to identify real caregivers that will take victims through rehabilitation processes.

"Beyond that, we are actually building a fully fledged mental health rehabilitation hospital at Ketu-Ejinrin in Lagos East Senatorial District.

"This, we believe, will not only have almost 500 beds but will also have a required expertise, medical and all of the complements, to ensure that different categories of treatments required are available," Mr Sanwo-Olu said.

The governor said his administration would collaborate with different commands of NDLEA in Lagos.

"We will try and strengthen our level of relationships for quicker response.

"All of us need to have a strong advocacy; parents, religious and traditional leaders need to be true to themselves and let us know that it is only when we speak about it that we can indeed get proper solutions," he said.

Mr Sanwo-Olu said the government would not condone criminality coming out of drug abuse because it portends danger to law-abiding citizens.

"We need to define clearly between people that are just abusing it and people that are supplying it, and be able to deal with them accordingly," he said.

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