Nigeria tops list of drug trafficking, use in West Africa

Nigeria tops list of drug trafficking, use in West Africa

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, has topped the list of countries with the highest trafficking and use of drugs in West Africa, according to a report published last week by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

The continent’s biggest oil producer is followed closely by coup d’état-prone Guinea Bissau and terrorism-hit Mali, which remain the major transit routes for drugs in destination to Europe due to the political instability in these countries, the INCB 2012 report said.

“Political events and changes in Africa have affected the fight against drug use and trafficking in the region,” Pierre Lapaque, West and Central African representative for the UN Office against drugs and crime said.

Lapaque also noted that West Africa is the most vulnerable region which serves as a hub for the manufacturing, use and transit route for cannabis to Europe, particularly fingering countries such as Ghana, Senegal, Nigeria, Togo and Republic of Congo.

A total of 12.4% of Nigerians between the age of 15 and 64 smoke the herb of cannabis, INCB said.

Nigeria has in 2011 seized 192 tons of cannabis from various traffickers and users, an increase of 10% compared to the previous year, while Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde only seized 33 tons, three tons and 2.6 tons, respectively.

The past 10 years have seen West Africa become the new transit points of cocaine coming from Latin America in destination to Europe, with Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos emerging as the nerve centre where cocaine came and went by air unnoticed, according to the report.

Close to 50% of Africa’s drug couriers arrested in Europe in 2011 were citizens of Nigeria, 18% from Benin and 5% from Cameroon, according to the report.

There are an estimated 1.5 million of coke users in West Africa, with Nigerians topping the list.

As for heroin trafficking, INCB said that the continent’s most populous nation also tops the list of major transit routes in destination to Europe, followed by Ivory Coast and Benin.

An estimated 0.7% of Nigerians are heroin users, the report said.

INCB urged African countries to review and strengthen their laws on drug use and trafficking in order to bring them in conformity with international norms to improve the fight against drug trafficking and use on the continent.

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