The Ebonyi State Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has said that it arrested 247 suspects in the state in 2020.
Mr Umar Adoro, State Commander of the agency made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday at its state office in Ntezi, Ishiellu Local Area of the state.
Adoro said the figure was still recorded in spite of the restriction on social and economic activities due to COVID-19 pandemic nationwide lockdown.
“A total of 461.2 kilogrammes of illicit drugs was seized from the suspects who consist of 198 males and 49 females.
“A total of 36 suspects were convicted; consisting of 35 males and one female,” he said.
He revealed that in spite of not being known to many, the command offers counseling, treatment and rehabilitation services to illicit drug users.
“We counseled a total of 107 suspects in 2020; treating, rehabilitating and re-integrating them back into the society.
“Most of those counseled were reported to the command by their parents or guardians and we offered the desired assistance to them.
“It is pertinent to note that not all the suspects are prosecuted as we identify those who need counseling and rehabilitation,” he said.
The NDLEA state commander also regretted the high number of females involved in illegal drug usage and dealings, describing the development as ‘worrisome’.
“This situation should be of huge concern to relevant stakeholders and attract immediate actions especially from mothers.
“We also state that over 70 per cent of the youths who participated in the EndSars protest of 2020 were actively engaged in illicit drug intake,” he said.
He noted that the command would re-double its efforts in propagating messages concerning how to end illicit drugs through media channels, workshops, symposia among others.
“We will continue soliciting the cooperation of relevant stakeholders to check the increasing rate of illicit drug usage and dealings in the society,” he said. (NAN)