By Victor Ahiuma-Young & Peter Duru
Makurdi—National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, has said over 14.3 million Nigerians between the ages of 15 and 64 use hard drugs.
This came as Kwara State Labour Party, LP, governorship candidate in 2019 general election and General Secretary, National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, Issa Aremu, called for a national drug policy to arrest issues concerning hard drugs usage in Nigeria among others.
Benue State Commander of the NDLEA, Florrence Ezeonye made this known yesterday while briefing reporters in commemoration of the 2019 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Trafficking with the theme ‘Health for Justice, Justice for Health.’
According to the Commander, “recent reports of the National Survey on Drug use, conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, in collaboration with the Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse, CRISA, sponsored by the United Nations Office on Drugs Control, UNODC, and the European Union, EU, confirmed that Nigeria has about 14.3 million hard drugs users aged between 15 and 64.
“The survey further revealed that 10.6million Nigerians abuse opioids while 2.4 million youths and adults abuse codeine based syrup with 92,000 more using cocaine.”
Ezeonye who tied the increasing crime rate to the level of illicit drug abuse in the society said as parts of efforts to combat the menace, her command in the last one year arrested 119 suspects including nine females with 497 kilogrammes of Indian hemp while 46.9 kilogrammes of psychiatric substances were seized.
“We also secured 29 convictions while 86 addicts were within the period rehabilitated. In addition we have embarked on aggressive campaign and to that effect we have put together a lecture for 30 schools in the state which will include 20 secondary schools and 10 primary schools,” the Commander said.
She however decried what she described as a disturbing trend where communities protect drug dealers and join hands to attack officers and men of the agency on legitimate duty warning that the trend must stop to check unwarranted loss of lives.
Meanwhile, Aremu has advised Nigerian youths to shun any form of drug abuse as a precondition for healthier and productive life.
Aremu who is Vice President of IndusriALL African Region, in a statement in Ilorin to mark this year’s United Nations Day Against Drug Abuse, .said “abuse of drugs mostly among the vulnerable unemployed youths is fueling criminality and violence of various forms. There is urgent need for a new government/community partnership to ‘crack down on drug trafficking and those who profit from human misery” as demanded by UN Secretary General António Guterres.
The 2018 Global Report on Drug which cited Nigeria and India as countries with growing abuse of dangerous substances like Opium and Tamadol is a rude awakening to halt the growing menace of drug abuse within the context of the theme of this year’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking which is “health for justice, justice for health”.
He called for a comprehensive Drug policy for the nation that would emphasize prevention through education among youths, rehabilitation of victims and harsh sanctions for drug peddlers.