17 April 2003

UN, Nigeria to Create Regional Drug Law Enforcement Training Centre

VIENNA, 16 April (UN Information Service) -- The Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime are working on a project aimed at upgrading the Jos Academy, located in the Plateau State, into a training centre for the entire West African region.

This new initiative will help create a sustainable drug control effort in the region through the training and enhancement of human capacities in drug law enforcement and related organised criminality, including money laundering and asset forfeiture.

To that end, the Jos Academy is to be fully equipped, staffed and managed to meet modern training standards and deliver high-quality training curricula to both Nigerian and other English- and French-speaking West African drug law enforcement officers. It is also expected that the centre will substantially contribute to removing the remaining obstacles to a full co-operation among West Africa drug law enforcement agencies. The Federal Government of Nigeria has already allocated about US$ 2 million (out of an overall project budget of US$ 5 million) as its cost-sharing contribution to this project.

West Africa has been experiencing one of the most successful regional integration processes in Africa within the framework of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). However, this region is the most populous on the continent, hosts the largest number of countries (i.e.13), and is an area with a low human development index. The region is also stricken by various intra-state conflicts that have serious repercussions on inter-state relations.

Nigeria, the driving force behind the ECOWAS, is the key player in the region, but also a major hub for the trafficking of all kinds of drugs in the region and beyond. The role of Nigerian nationals in international drug trafficking is well documented. As a result of the efforts made by Nigerian authorities to repress drug trafficking, traffickers have resorted to new routes involving most of the countries in the region. These new routes mainly serve the trafficking of South-west Asian heroin, cocaine from Latin America and cannabis cultivated in the region or originating from Morocco.

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