Drug war: African anti-narcotic bodies to meet in Abuja 

By Salihu Ali and Charles Ogba, Abuja

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Delegates from 54 African countries and 15 observer nations will next week converge in Abuja for the 31st meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies, Africa, (HONLAF) to discuss new trends and partnerships to curb the global drug scourge.

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Top on their agenda will be discussions and collaborations on alternative development to cannabis cultivation, assets forfeiture, cryptocurrency and money laundering by drug cartels, among others.

 

Nigeria’s Anti-narcotic Agency the National Drugs Laws Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the Country Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, Mr.  Oliver Stolpe revealed this at a joint press briefing in Abuja Nigeria’s Capital.

Speaking, the Chief Executive Officer of the Agency, retired Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa represented by the Secretary Mr. Shadrach Haruna said, the 31st meeting of HONLAF, a subsidiary body of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (UNCND) is to enable heads of drug law enforcement agencies in Africa to discuss and develop strategies to combat drug trafficking and abuse in the region.

 

He said: “the HONLAF meeting is an annual event. The last one was held in Nairobi, Kenya, where Nigeria was unanimously elected as the host of the 31st edition, which will take place from Tuesday, September 26 to Friday, September 29, 2023 in Abuja.”

 

This annual HONLAF meeting features a line-up of activities that include technical meetings, paper presentations, deliberations on reports and trends, workshops, and bilateral talks among member nations. It is a platform for brokering collaborations in the areas of shared intelligence, joint training, and joint operations against international drug cartels in the African region.”

 

Haruna stressed that, aside from delegates from African countries, there will be representatives from observer bodies and other non-African countries who will be attending the historic meeting.

 

He said President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will deliver the keynote address and also declare the conference open as the special guest of honour while the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Lateef Fagbemi, SAN among other heads of relevant parastatals and agencies will be in attendance.

 

“Among other positive outlooks, Nigeria hosting the 31st HONLAF is an indication of the trust in the leadership quality of NDLEA among its peers on the continent.”

 

Mr. Haruna explained that, at the last HONLAF meeting in Nairobi, Nigeria seized the momentum to broker bilateral cooperation with a number of countries with the intention of forming a strong regional force against transnational illicit drug organisations trying to establish bases in African countries.

 

Also, the Country Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, Oliver Stolpe said, the HONLAF meeting will also focus on regional and national cooperation to reduce illicit production and cultivation of illicit drugs.

 

“There will also be discussion on alternative development, an approach promoted by many countries; financial investigation in drug trafficking cases and the role of cryptocurrency in drug trafficking cases, and money laundering. It is safe to say NDLEA has made great strides to confiscate the money and proceeds of drug crime. We’ll also look at how to follow the money and seize the immense riches accumulated in the drug trade.” 

 

He noted that, the opening ceremony of the HONLAF meeting, will afford UNODC and the National Institute of Security Studies the opportunity to present a report on organized crime trends that constitute threat to Nigeria.

 

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