A new report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says the Nigerian market tops the list of cocaine smuggling regions in Africa.
In The Global Report on Cocaine 2023 released on Thursday, The Cable report that the UN agency said the steep growth in supply has been matched by a similar swell in demand.
It said Nigerian traffickers often work in collaboration with their compatriots in other countries, particularly members of “cult groups” in European destination countries and those operating in Brazil.
The report noted that the role of Nigerians, however, is relatively important at mid-level and dealer levels rather than large-scale trafficking.
“Based on aggregate reporting to UNODC, by Nigeria and other countries, on the main cocaine trafficking routes during 2018-2021, trafficking of cocaine was reported from Nigeria to 20 countries or territories, including countries within the subregion (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Liberia), transit countries in Africa (Algeria, Ethiopia, Morocco), and countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region (Australia, China, Hong Kong, China, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka), in the Near and Middle East/ South-West Asia (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates) and in Europe (Turkiye, United Kingdom),” the report reads.
“Cocaine arrives in Nigeria via a variety of channels including bulk carrier vessels arriving at seaports such as Apapa, Tincan Island, and Onne: passenger flights into airports such as those of Lagos, Abuja, Enugu, and Kano: across land borders at various locations, including Seme (on the border with Benin) and llela (on the border with
Niger); and via parcels delivered by courier companies or postal services.
“The most prominent departure country for cocaine reaching Nigeria is Brazil. Thus, despite the established and well-connected presence of Nigerian traffickers within an international network of actors and counterparts trafficking cocaine (and other drugs), notably with regard to trafficking by air, in view of the available seizure data, it is plausible that the volume of cocaine transiting Nigerian territory is a relatively modest share of the quantities reaching West and Central Africa.
“It should however be borne in mind that Nigerian traffickers are also active in neighbouring countries as well as North Africa.”
Morocco is second to Nigeria in the African drug trafficking market.
Ghada Waly, UNODC executive director, warned that the potential for the cocaine market to expand in Africa is a “dangerous reality” and urged governments to closely examine the report’s findings and determine how the threats can be met with solutions.
In September 2022, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency(NDLEA) seized 1.8 tonnes of cocaine worth “N194 billion” in Lagos.
The NDLEA said seized drugs “appeared to be the biggest singular cocaine seizure” in the agency’s history.
President Muhammadu Buhari hailed Buba Marwa, the NDLEA chairman, over his efforts in “eradicating the drug menace” in Nigeria.