The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has commended the provisions of the ECOWAS Drug Action Plan to address illicit drug trafficking, organized crime and drug abuse in West Africa.
Malami gave the commendation on Monday at the ECOWAS Ministerial Meeting on the Regional Action Plan to address illicit drug trafficking, organized crime and drug abuse in the sub-region.
The AGF said the Action Plan represents the position and policy of member states to fight illicit drug abuse and other related crimes in the zone.
He said the Action Plan would be implemented over the period of 2016 till 2020, following the expiration of the first plan which covered the period of 2008 to 2015.
Malami said: “The world is currently divided in terms of drug control policies; there are countries where drug trafficking and abuse is punishable by death, others are advocating for legalization or decriminalization of certain drugs.
“The ECOWAS Drug Action Plan outlines the position that the member states are advocating for.
“That is, to punish trafficking and abuse and at the same time offer treatment and rehabilitation to people who have drug disorders.”
Malami added that the Action Plan would provide a roadmap and serve as a working document for the ECOWAS drug control team.
The minister further said that the document would provide the necessary framework for member states to source for funds from development partners.
He commended the efforts of member states in the fight against drug trafficking, abuse and related crimes and reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to fight the menace in the sub-region.
In his remarks, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel Alain de Souza, said that the Action Plan of 2008 to 2015 “lagged behind” and said that a fewer activities were implemented.
Alain de Souza, who was represented by David Singhateh, the Vice President of the commission, said the lag was due to financial and technical constraints.
De Souza noted: “However, I would like to assure you that the new plan is being launched at a time when both ECOWAS and UN Office on Drugs and Crime are being supported by the 10th European Development.
“This support is to implement the ECOWAS Drug Action through the financing agreement in the sum of 16.47 million Euro signed with the EU on Dec. 22, 2013.”
“About 11.88 million Euro of the amount in the financing agreement was earmarked as contribution agreement to the UNODC, the implementation partner.
“These were in the areas of harmonized information and drug data for the sub-region, drug use reduction and treatment and capacity building for enforcement and judicial authorities.
“The ECOWAS Commission and the EU in February 2015, signed a Standard Grant Agreement in the sum of 3.67 million Euro which has enabled the commission to recruit critical staff for the ECOWAS Drug Unit.”
He further said that the Action Plan was a common strategic framework to guide member states in countering illicit drug trafficking and abuse in West Africa.
In her address, the UNODC Regional Representative, Cristina Albertin, described the Action Plan as “a key element of the global response to the challenges of drug trafficking, abuse and organized crime”.
She stressed: “It takes into account not only the drug issue in a holistic manner, but also the links between drug trafficking and other forms of organized crime as well as emergent form of crime such as cyber-crime.
“Importantly, it contributes to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
She expressed satisfaction in the collaboration the UNODC had with ECOWAS in the fight against the scourge of drug abuse and trafficking.
Albertin further stated: “UNODC’s Regional Programme for West Africa 2016-2020 is closely aligned with the ECOWAS Action Plan as a testament to our joint efforts and complementarities in supporting the countries of the region in this regard.
“UNODC welcomes the ECOWAS’ engagement with the international community to ensure ownership by the governments of the development and security initiatives in the region.”