Drugs, Organized Crime and Terrorism


West Africa has become the hub of drug syndicates for smuggling cocaine into Europe and America. The region is geographically placed on a natural smuggling route of cocaine from South America to Europe. This is a predictable development, since organized crime groups have developed powerful networks in Nigeria and other countries in the region. West Africa with its long shoreline, and international seaports and airports, is strategically vulnerable for use by drug trafficking rings, smuggling drugs from Asia (heroin and psychotropic substances), Latin America (cocaine), North Africa (cannabis resin), and Europe (psychotropic substances). The large and worldwide Diasporas of West Africans constitute effective communication and international trade links of both licit and illicit goods.

Nigeria is a transit point for heroin and cocaine intended for European, East Asian, and North American markets. Since 2004; drug trafficking organizations have been increasingly using West African countries including Nigeria for smuggling large amounts of cocaine from South America into Europe and North America. In 2008, the Nigerian National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) recorded the seizure of 335,535.34 Kilogrammes of cannabis, 530.4033 Kilogrammes of psychotropic substances,   3655.4904 Kilogrammes of cocaine and 11.6054 of heroin.

Furthermore, the country has a relatively high rate of drug abuse due to the continued availability of illicitly manufactured and diverted pharmaceutical products containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. The most abused drug in West Africa is cannabis, mainly in its herbal form. Cannabis is locally produced all over the region and is therefore affordable. The price of one unit of cannabis is often about the same as that of a bottle of beer. Cannabis abuse prevalence rates in many African countries are more than twice as high as the globally assessed 3%, and in Africa, cannabis continues to dominate treatment demand (65%).


UNODC's Response to Drug Abuse and Trafficking in Nigeria

Globally UNODC leads the international campaign to raise awareness about the major challenge that illicit drugs represents to society as a whole and especially to the youth. June 26 each year is recognized worldwide as International day against drugs abuse and illicit drug trafficking and CONIG marks the event by collaborating with NDLEA in the development and facilitation of activities to mark the day. The activities usually include a press conference, workshop, and public destruction of drug exhibits and often the simultaneous launch of the World Drug Report.

Another annual event aimed at raising public awareness which is marked by UNODC is the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) Report launch. This event usually consists of a gathering of dignitaries, national stakeholders, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the media where the report is launched and a power point synopsis of the report is presented by an expert guest speaker.

In the area of drug demand reduction, CONIG is a beneficiary of the Japanese Drug Abuse Prevention Centre (JDAPC) yearly contribution to UNODC as part of its worldwide support for the anti-drug crusade. The donation is used for grants, ranging from $5000 to $20,000, in support of NGOs in developing countries in their grass-roots activities for drug demand reduction. The JDAPC grant finances NGO activities in line with UNODC's policy of support for and collaboration with civil society organizations working in the field of drug abuse.  CONIG offers the money from this fund to Nigerian NGOs working on matters of drug prevention, education, treatment and/or rehabilitation. The grant is awarded for activities that fall within the general sphere of drug demand reduction and the NGO that is awarded the grant is assessed and evaluated based on the following criteria

  • Possibility of achieving set goals/objectives of the project
  • Outreach
  • Sustainability
  • Relevance
  • Collaboration with other NGOs

Earlier UNODC intervention in the area of drug demand reduction particularly treatment there was a project to strengthen the treatment and rehabilitation centres across some states of the country. ….. of treatment and rehabilitation centres benefitted from this exercise.

Prior to this, UNODC had provided funding for drug abuse education through NDLEA. Also a campaign against drug abuse was taken to 6 universities, 6 prisons and 2 communities (Lagos Island Local Government Area and Dala Local Government Area in Kano State) through a Swiss-funded but UNODC implemented project titled Partnership Against Drug Abuse and HIV/AIDS prevention in Nigeria.

Also in the recent past, CONIG has partnered with NDLEA, in the NIRI24 project - Upgrading of the NDLEA Jos Training Academy to a regional law enforcement training centre . The project's aim was to further implement the technical and physical upgrade of the academy into a regional law enforcement centre. As well as the development and implementation of a standard regional curriculum for 15 West African countries, and the adaptation of UNODC's global Computer Based Training (CBT) module, to the West-African cultural and linguistic environment context. Currently the NDLEA Jos Training Academy is a regional training centre that provides training facilities and managerial and teaching capacity for all the States in the West African region.



UNODC has for many years been addressing issues pertaining to international terrorism and related international cooperation. In 2002, the General Assembly approved an expanded programme of activities for the UNODC Terrorism Prevention Branch. This expanded programme focuses on providing assistance to States, upon request, in the legal and related aspects of counter-terrorism, especially for ratifying and implementing the international legal instruments against terrorism and strengthening the capacity of the national criminal justice systems to apply the provisions of these instruments in compliance with the principles of rule of law. In addition, the Branch provides substantive input on counter-terrorism issues to intergovernmental bodies and it coordinates its work with relevant other actors.

"We strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes, as it constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security".

2005 World Summit Outcome adopted by the United Nations General Assembly by its resolution 60/1

"Reaffirming that acts, methods and practices of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations are activities aimed at the destruction of human rights,fundamental freedoms and democracy, threatening territorial integrity, security of States and destabilizing legitimately constituted Governments, and that the international community should take the necessary steps to enhance cooperation to prevent and combat terrorism".

United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Adopted by the General Assembly on 8 September 2006     ( resolution 60/288) (pdf)

Integrated Assistance for Countering Terrorism ( I-ACT) Initiative

Through this initiative, CTITF aims to enhance the capacity within the United Nations system to help interested Member States, upon their request and in a user-friendly way, to implement the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in an integrated manner.

CTITF works with the partnering Member States (currently Burkina Faso, Madagascar and Nigeria) through I-ACT to provide a mapping of requested, completed, ongoing and planned technical assistance activities by CTITF entities in each partnering Member State, which aims to facilitate the identification of "gaps" in assistance delivery and the elaboration of action plans for assistance to be delivered.

In 2008, CTITF started working with Madagascar and Nigeria as the first two partnering Member States that had requested to be considered for assistance with the integrated implementation of the Strategy. Burkina Faso became the third I-ACT partner country in 2009.

In this framework, UNODC was tasked with developing the I-ACT Information System, an Internet-based tool for facilitating enhanced information sharing and coordination of technical assistance delivery among the different entities of the United Nations Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force.

The UNODC Country Office in Nigeria (CONIG) is by its field presence supporting the work of CTITF under the I-ACT initiative as Nigeria is one of the first partner countries.