By Enyichukwu Enemanna
At least 54 African countries and 15 observer nations will converge in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital next week for the 31st meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies, Africa, (HONLAF) to be hosted by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
The Abuja meeting is expected to discuss new trends and partnerships to curb the global drug scourge.
The agency’s Director of Media & Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, announced this on Tuesday at a joint press briefing by the Secretary to the NDLEA, Shadrach Haruna and the Country Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Oliver Stolpe.
According to the statement, the agenda will also feature discussions and collaborations on alternative development to cannabis cultivation, assets forfeiture, cryptocurrency and money laundering by drug cartels, among others.
Haruna who represented the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Agency, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) of the NDLEA at the briefing, said the 31st meeting was to enable heads of drug law enforcement agencies in Africa, discuss and develop strategies to combat drug trafficking and abuse in the region.
“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.
“This year, Nigeria has the honour of being the chair and host of the meeting. So, it means delegates from 53 other African countries will converge on the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, on Monday, and for the rest of the week, they will be guests of NDLEA and the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“Aside from delegates from African countries, there will be representatives from observer bodies and other non-African countries who will be attending to watch the proceedings”, he said.
President Bola Tinubu is expected to deliver the keynote address and also declare the conference open as the special guest of honour.
Stolpe said the HONLAF meeting will also focus on “regional and national cooperation to reduce illicit production and cultivation of illicit drugs and manufacturing of other drugs like methamphetamine”.