The international efforts to combat illicit trade in drugs started with the International opium Commission held in Shanghai, China in Febuary 1909. The recommendations of the commission led to the making of the International Opium Convention of 1912. This action, aimed at addressing the growing international use and trade in Opium, particularly in China, great Britain and United States of America, brought to an end decades of inaction to the problem of illicit drugs and laid the foundation for the current international drug control system. This was followed by the first Geneva Conventions of 1931, the convention for the suppression of illicit traffic in Dangerous Drugs of 1936, the single convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 and its protocol of 1972, the convention on psychotropic substances of 1971 and the convention against illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic substances of 1988(the Vienna convention).
These conventions continued to impose obligations on state parties to fight both the illicit traffic and abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances by fostering international cooperation and exchange of operational and scientific information on patterns and trends in the international narcotics trade.
It is within this framework that Nigeria’s counter narcotics strategy evolved. The drug control strategies of Nigeria were intended to address both her international obligations and local concerns to ensure that the country does not become a drug haven. Thus, at every point in time, the country tried to discharge her international obligations and put in place enforcement structures that could meet the societal needs of the moment.
The notable legislation against illicit cultivation, trafficking and abuse of illicit drugs in Nigeria include:
- The Dangerous Drugs Ordinance of 1935 enacted by British Colonial administration.
- The Indian Hemp Decree No.19 of 1966 enacted by the Military administration of Major General Aguiyi Ironsi with life imprisonment for illicit trafficking.
- The Indian Hemp(Amendment) Decree No.34 of 1975 enacted by the regime of Major General Murtala Mohammed that reduced the term of imprisonment from life to 6 months imprisonment
- The Indian Hemp(Amendment) Decree, and the Special Tribunal(Miscellaneous Offences) Decree No. 20 of 1984 enacted by the regime of Major General Mohammed Buhari to prescribe death penalty for illicit traffic in narcotics drugs.
- The Special Tribunal(Miscellaneous Offences) (Amendment) Decree of 1986 that replaced the death penalty with life imprisonment and and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Decree NO 48 of 1989 (as amended by Decree No.33 of 1990, Decree No 15 of 1992 and Decree No. 62 of 1999) all of which harmonized as Cap. N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria(LFN) 2004 that established the NDLEA, enacted by the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida
- The Money |Laundering (Miscellaneous Offences) Decree No. 3, 1995 enacted by the regime of General Sani Abacha
- The Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act of 2004 enacted by the civilian administration of General Olusegun Obasanjo (Rtd); and
- The Money Laundering(prohibition) Act of 2011 enacted by the administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to repeal the Act of 2004