August 2, 2023

Beware of food served at ceremonies laced with drugs – NGO

Beware of food served at ceremonies laced with drugs – NGO

By Esther Onyegbula

Parents and anti-narcotics agents have been called upon to pay more attention to food served at ceremonies in villages, as food meant for youths is deliberately laced with drugs, especially Indian hemp.

This call was made known during the unveiling of the Beauty for Ashes rehabilitation center for victims of drug abuse in Ijegun area of Lagos by a non-governmental organization known as the Center for Correction and Human Development (CCHD).

CCHD is a non-governmental organization dedicated to the promotion and enhancement of quality of life and the re-establishment and development of human personality through counseling, mentoring, rehabilitation, education, and empowerment of young people in Nigeria. The Beauty for Ashes Center is one of its latest projects.

Chairman of the occasion, Barrister Godwin James, who made this revelation, lamented that the desperation to widen the drug market is alarming, and lacing food meant for the youth is one effective methods they have devised.

“The painful part of it is that traditional rulers who are aware of these now encourage it by insisting that meals meant for the youth should be prepared separately. These happen during big events in villages, like traditional weddings and burial ceremonies.

“Through food laced with Indian hemp, they get addicted, and by so doing, they create a lucrative hard drug market in the villages. The community knows about it, and they accept it.”

He further stated that the judiciary has no hand in failing to get proper convictions in most cases.

“When these drug barons are arrested, all these so-called anti-narcotic agencies will detain them and extort as much money from them as possible. This is when you hear things like plea bargains, and most importantly, these drugs are sold to the highest bidder, who ends up selling them in Nigeria.

“The buyers are known to these security agents, and they are always on standby to buy them off.

“The only way out is for the family system to do much more to help the children stay away from drugs. The government should, on their part, start sanitizing the system from the top where easy access into the country is permitted or tolerated.”

On who is allowed to check into the center, the Executive Director of CCHD, Mrs. Obioma Agoziem, stated that the intending patient is expected to contact CCHD through its various communication channels on its website.

“The center was created to help reduce the pressure on state facilities, which are overburdened by the high rise in the number of cases reported in Lagos State.

“The individual will undergo a process of screening that includes counseling and laboratory tests. It is then that we can determine if he or she is fit to be sent to our rehabilitation center.

“At the center, we have a psychiatric consultant, therapists and Nurses. We also have a skill acquisition center, which the patient is expected to enroll in during the duration of their stay.”

She further called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency due to the spate of the spread of the use of hard drugs in the country.

“In 2018, there was a surge in the number of cases that we had. People kept calling, asking for help and a private rehabilitation center. The state government has its own facility, but it is not enough to effectively attend to the psychological needs of these patients. This center was designed to bridge the gap.

“In as much as we are doing our part to help victims, the government needs to do much more to save our youth.”

Meanwhile, in his welcome address, the Founding President of CCHD, Martin Akpaka, further explained that the center was established to provide in-house care and dedicated attention to victims of drug abuse with a view to weaning them systematically out of that condition and getting them back to a reasonable level of sanity.

He said: “The rehabilitation center is a temporary site for use pending the completion of our main comprehensive center. A report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) puts the 2023 statistics on drug abuse in Nigeria at around 40% of the youth population, with the highest prevalence in Lagos, Gombe, and Oyo states.”