CHAPTER 17: The “War On Drugs” in West Africa: An Appraisal by Participants of West Africa Executive Course on Human Rights and Drug Policy, Legon, Ghana by Okokon O. Umoh, Kwadwo Appiagyei Atua, Maria-Goretti Ane, Samuel Molokwu, Charlotte O. Kwakye-Nuako, Chinwike Okereke, Abigail Gyimah, Ediomo-Ubong Nelson, Gloria Karuri, Ateiza S. Adabeneg
West Africa (a sub-region with sixteen countries) has an estimated population of 350 million young people, with a growing annual Gross Domestic Product rate of 5 .89% over the past ten years (ECOWAS,2011). Halfofwest Africans live on less than 1.25 USD per day and 3 5% live in the urban areas. Though the growing population of the sub-region could be said to be a significant resource base for
development,‘ West Africa is daily confronted with a myriad of challenges ranging from unemployment to poverty, homelessness to ill health and illiteracy to corruption, thus increasing inhabitants‘ vulnerability to drug use (World Bank Report, 2010).
Drugs and alcohol are common features in the West African region and much more cannabis is consumed in the area than cocaine, heroin or amphetamine type stimulants (ATS). The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ((UNODC), 2013) world drug report estimates that between 2012 and 2013,
about 1.6 million West Africans were using cocaine; one million used opioids, 28 million (12.4%: compared to the averages of 7.5 percent in Africa and 3 .9 percent globally) reported using cannabis and there appears to be emerging markets for methamphetamines and other injection drugs of use in the region. About 1.25 billion USD annual values of cocaine pass through West Africa; an indicator that the West African sub-region has graduated from being a transit route to consumers of drugs (West African
Commission on Drugs, 2014; Annan, 2015).
In Nigeria, between 0.5 0.7 million people used cocaine and opioids from 2007 to 2013, while 13.8% to 14.3% used cannabis within the same period (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2013). Between 20 ll and 2013, about six clandestine methamphetamine laboratories were discovered
by the Nigerian authorities (Obot, 2014). Data collected from fourteen psychiatric hospitals in Nigeria