While drug trafficking is a global menace, the number of Nigerians involved in the nefarious trade is increasing at an alarming rate. Recent statistics from the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) indicate that hundreds of Nigerians are presently in death row in some countries, while others are serving various jail terms on account of the illicit trade. A breakdown of the figures shows that 73 Nigerians are on death row in Malaysia and 23 in Saudi Arabia. In Brazil, 144 Nigerians are serving various jail terms, while no less than 650 are in jail in Thailand for drug-related offences. The list is by no means exhaustive.
There is no doubt that the drug menace has reached a frightening dimension. More worrisome is the fact that the nationals of other African countries now disguise as Nigerians to ply the evil trade. They probably do this to give the country a bad name.
Therefore, parents, schools, religious and traditional institutions must join the government in the crusade against drug trafficking.
We condemn the involvement of many Nigerians in drug trafficking and call on the Federal Government to do more to curb the menace among our youths. In fact, drug trafficking is a reflection of the lawless nature of some of our citizens who are determined to tarnish the image of the country. The illicit drug trade has become an albatross for successive governments in the country.
We recall that some Nigerians had been killed on account of drug trafficking, both in Nigeria and outside. Despite the killings, many Nigerians are still hooked to the inimical trade. Therefore, it appears that the menace is not easily checked by such extreme measures.
The agencies in charge of checking drug trafficking must rise up to the challenge and seriously curb the growing menace before more harm is done to the nation’s image. It is also their duty to ensure that innocent citizens are not romped together with the guilty ones through hasty generalisations and over-profiling as witnessed recently. The case of Zainab Aliyu, who was wrongly accused of drug trafficking, stands out.
The case finally brought out the drug cartel operating in the country with collaborations abroad. These men were in the habit of inserting drugs into the bags of unsuspecting travellers who would then be caught for offences they knew nothing about. In many countries with strong measures against the drug menace, some of these victims could have innocently paid the ultimate price for offences they did not commit.
It is based on the foregoing that we call for a judicial review of some of these cases. There should be proper legal representation to our citizens accused of drug trafficking in order to avoid any miscarriage of justice or unfair treatment. This is not to suggest by any stretch of imagination that the country should stand in the way of justice, if any of its citizens is properly tried or convicted or any offence abroad.
In many of these countries in the Far and Middle East, the laws are very clear on drug trafficking and the penalties are displayed boldly at all ports of entry for all new entrants to see. We enjoin our citizens to be abreast of the laws of their host countries. Ignorance is never an excuse in law. They should be law-abiding in any country they reside. They must shun the desperation for easy wealth and work hard for their money.
Anyone caught on drug trafficking must be ready to pay the penalty. For those who may be innocently lured into the trade, the Ministry of Information, through the National Orientation Agency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora Commission must continue to reorient our nationals and enlighten them on the dangers of drug trafficking. The federal, state and local governments must work in concert to curb the rising menace of drug trafficking among Nigerians.