President Bola Tinubu has implored the Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies in Africa to renew the fight against substance abuse.
Tinubu made the call at the inauguration of the 31st meeting of the Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies, Africa (HONLAF), on Tuesday in Abuja.
Represented by the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, the president also enjoined the continent’s anti drugs agencies to fight against illicit drug trafficking in their respective countries.
He warned vehemently that the African continent would remain in chains till it breaks free from the 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.”
Speaking on his keynote address, titled, “Rising Above the Drug Threat”, Tinubu said that: “Africa was at the mercy of a threat that knows neither race nor geography, neither gender nor social class.”
He, therefore, enjoined the African heads of drug law enforcement agencies to consider the conference in Abuja as a ray of hope and a catalyst for positive change across the continent.
President Tinubu thanked them for their sacrifices in ensuring a world that is free of illicit drugs.
“This threat has crossed borders and destroyed societies and dreams. Without the moral commitment of the men and women in this room, this threat would have left cities, countries, and even civilizations erased.
“So, I must commend you for your sacrifices in the bids to keep our world drug-free, sane and safe.
“This conference emphasises your investment across borders to protect us from the devastations of drugs, a threat that only submits to the enforcement of the law.
He thanked HONLAF and its partners, particularly, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, for creating the avenue for offering intelligence and drug law enforcement officials a grand opportunity to compare notes.
He also appreciated HONLAF for creating platform for collaboration and networking that would be several steps ahead of the criminal network of drug transnational organizations.
Tinubu said that in the last couple of decades, criminal organisations had made frantic efforts to breach the security measures in African countries, all in a bid to pollute the minds of their citizens, adding however that the anti-narcotics agencies have proven to be a thorn in their flesh.
“But while it’s a compliment that drug-law enforcement organizations are a threat to their criminal empires, their desperation must never be taken for granted.
“Without you as gatekeepers of healthy nations, humanity as we know it would have long been perverted. So, on behalf of the world, I say thanks to you all, who have kept us from being polluted and destroyed.”
He said that the commitment to the fight against drug trafficking and substance abuse was not just a matter of policy but a moral imperative.
“We recognise that a population at war with drugs is not a dividend but a liability. We believe that the future of our youth, the strength of our institutions, and the well-being of our communities depend on our ability to eradicate this threat.”
Tinubu stressed the need for the anti-narcotics agencies to consolidate established contacts, strengthen operational existing partnerships and cooperation among them at the sub-regional and regional levels.
This, according to him, will make trafficking of illicit drugs and movement of drug syndicates difficult in the African continent.
Tinubu said the conference was a profound recognition of the campaign and fight against illicit drugs in the country by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
“We are hosting the 31st HONLAF meeting here to reassure you of our promise to participate in building a world not threatened by the infiltration of illicit drugs.”
Earlier, the Chairman of NDLEA, retired Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa, restated the stakeholders’ commitment towards addressing the world’s drug problem.
He assured that Nigeria would continue to uphold the objectives of multilateral organisations dedicated to combating drug trafficking and related crimes.
Marwa, who emphasised the need for global partnerships in addressing drug trafficking and other vices, noted that world’s drug problem cannot be effectively tackled by individual entities.
In attendance were the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), Mr Ghada Fathi Waly; the UNODC Country Representative, Mr Oliver Stolpe and the Commandant of the National Institute for Security Studies, Mr Ayodele Adeleke
Others are the representative of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, among others. (NAN)