A new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), unveiled that the Nigerian market is the most important cocaine smuggling region in Africa.
The UN agency’s ‘The Global Report on Cocaine 2023‘ showed that the steep increase in supply has been matched by a similar increase in demand.
According to the report, Nigerian traffickers frequently collaborate with their compatriots in other countries, especially members of “cult groups” in European destination countries and those operating in Brazil.
Nigerians according to the report, play a smaller role in mid-level and dealer trafficking than in 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 only to Nigeria in terms of African drug trafficking.
The UNODC executive director, Ghada Waly, warned that the potential for the cocaine market to expand in Africa is a “dangerous reality,” and urged governments to carefully examine the report’s findings to determine how the threats can be addressed with solutions.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) seized 1.8 tonnes of cocaine worth “N194 billion” in Lagos in September 2022.