The U.S. Consul General, Will Stevens, lauded Nigeria’s commitment to the global fight against illegal drugs during the official handover ceremony of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency’s (NDLEA) Forensics Lab and Offices in Ikoyi, Lagos.
In his address on Wednesday, January 10, 2024, Mr. Stevens expressed gratitude to key stakeholders, including Brigadier General Mohammed Buba Marwa, Chairman and Chief Executive of NDLEA, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) team in Nigeria. The ceremony marked a significant step in our joint efforts to combat transnational drug crimes.
Stevens highlighted the interconnected threats posed by illegal drugs, linking them to organized crime, illegal financial flows, corruption, and even terrorist financing. He stressed the individual impact of drug abuse, citing the CDC’s estimate of over 100,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in the past year.
The Consul General emphasized the global nature of the challenge, calling for collaborative efforts to combat illicit drug production, trafficking, and consumption. He commended Nigeria’s regional leadership and strong commitment to curbing criminal activities within its borders, underscoring the importance of international partnerships, particularly with the United States.
Addressing the global opioid crisis, Stevens urged a coordinated, comprehensive, and multidisciplinary response. He acknowledged the increasing diversity in the synthetic drug market, which poses challenges for the detection, identification, monitoring, and control of these substances.
Mr. Stevens announced a $500,000 investment by the U.S. Mission in Nigeria to renovate and modernize NDLEA’s chemical forensic laboratory in Lagos. This upgrade aims to provide state-of-the-art equipment for analyzing suspicious substances and evidence from crime scenes and suspects. Additionally, he revealed plans for professional exchanges, sending Nigerian laboratory technicians to the United States to learn best practices in the field.
In conclusion, Stevens called on NDLEA, especially the scientists at the forensic lab, to utilize the upgraded equipment optimally in fulfilling their crucial role. He expressed the U.S. government’s commitment to continued collaboration with the Nigerian government and partner agencies in combating narcotics and disrupting the global spread of illegal drugs, particularly synthetic drugs.