The Edo State Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) says it has arrested no fewer than 1,247 suspects over drug-related offences in the state between 2015 and 2016.
The commander of the agency in the state, Mr Buba Wakawa, disclosed this on Thursday at the inaugural meeting of the Edo State Drug Control Committee (ESDCC).
Wakawa also disclosed that within the period, about 186,501 kg of various narcotic drugs was seized, while about 164.6 hectares of cannabis plantation were destroyed.
He said that a total of 726 persons with drug abuse problem were counselled, while 156 drug dealers were convicted at the Federal High Court, Benin.
While appreciating the state governor for his political will in the campaign against drug abuse in the state, Wakawa gave an assurance that the committee would deliver optimally on its mandate.
“We can change the negative narrative of cannabis plantation to food production in Edo.
“We can also reduce the number of school dropouts, reduce the rate of criminal activities thus preventing cultism and promoting sound health,’’ he said.
The commander also revealed that the Federal Government took a major step in 1999 by developing the National Drug Control Master Plan.
The plan, he said, sought to address the disparity between law enforcement and drug demand reduction.
“The current master plan of 2015 to 2019 is a product of extensive consultation with stakeholders, thus lending credence to the fact that the Agency cannot win the fight alone,’’ he said.
Gov. Godwin Obaseki, in his remark vowed to drastically reduce drug and substance abuse in the state.
Obaseki noted that drug control guarantees public health and safety, active and vibrant workforce as well as a secured future for the youths.
Represented by the Commissioner for Health, Dr David Osifo, he said that it was dangerous for any government to treat the problem of drug abuse with kid gloves.
He, therefore, charged the committee to work exhaustively within the terms of reference in addressing the drug problem in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the committee is expected to formulate and implement policy decisions on drug control.
Its functions include the provision of structures at the state level in coordinating and implementing drug control programs in partnership with stakeholders.
The committee will also provide technical and logistic capacity to implement drug responses, boost anti-drug abuse sensitisation, advocacy and prevention activities in the state.
NAN reports that the members of the committee were drawn from various departments and ministries.