The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), in Gombe State, said it has seized 1,283.424 kg of hard drugs during the outgoing year, while also intercepting 831.78 kg of psychotropic substances.
State Commandant of the agency, Aliyu Dole, disclosed this, on Thursday, while briefing journalists on the activities of the NDLEA in the state.
Dole disclosed further that 102 suspects have been arrested this year as against 82 suspects arrested last year with only 444.986 kg of hard drugs seized. He attributed the rise in the illegal drug business to the prevailing economic recession, which the NDLEA commandant, said forced young men to take to drug trafficking.
He said the NDLEA was able to burst a syndicate of individual farmers planting Indian hemp in villages bordering some states to the south of Gombe, with 14 suspects arrested and currently in jail.
He explained that most of the suspects arrested fall under the 21-40 year age limit and accounted for about 84 per cent of the drugs seized.
“This year a lot of people are trying to think and the reason is not far. The economic recession is part of it because people are trying to see they get something to do to sell and get money to feed their family. If you ask one or two people, they will tell you that they are selling drugs to get money to feed their children,” he said.
Dole identified ‘Tramol’ as most frequently abused drug by youths in the state, adding that the analgesic when abused becomes addictive with an overdose of the drug capable of killing.
The commandant said the agency has so far convicted 46 persons involved in the illegal distribution of ‘Tramol’ with another 40 cases pending. “In this short time, we also have 14 clients, sick people needing medical care.”
Commenting on the challenges hindering the smooth operation of the agency in Gombe, Dole identified the lack of a permanent office as a major constraint, stressing that the present office occupied by the agency is not appropriate as the NDLEA shares the structure with civilians.
He also identified the reluctance of individuals to supply much needed information regarding activities of drug barons as according to him, “most drug peddlers are philanthropists, they give money to people and so they will not release information about them.”
Dole equally cited the uncompleted rehabilitation centre located in the Tunfure area of the city as a major drawback on the agency’s effort to rehabilitate drug abusers.
“The building has been completed but not furnished. We are still struggling to see that it is funded and furnished so we can receive and arrest drug peddlers from drug joints and be able to rehabilitate them,” he said.
Dole also said a situation where the agency relies on parents, relations to cater for drug abuse victims does not augur well for the society especially that it is part of the responsibilities of NDLEA to rehabilitate, treat and reintegrate victims of drug abuse.