In a bid to stem drug abuse among youngsters in the country, the Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria, CRAN, took the commemoration of the 2023 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking tagged “People First: Stop Stigma and Discrimination, Strength Prevention”, to secondary school students, urging them to avoid the use of hard drug, as it attracts a-15-year jail term upon conviction by the court.
Speaking at the sensitisation event on Monday in Lagos, Mr. Olalekan Olabulo, the CRAN President in a welcome remark noted that commemorating the annual event is a tactical way of fighting drug abuse and illicit trafficking in the country.
While reiterating the need to fight the menace of drug abuse, he emphasised the need to help those who have already missed their way by indulging in drug abuse by not stigmatising them.
Speaking on behalf of the group, CRAN is worried that despite the war declared by the government and its agencies on drug abuse, the rate of indulging in illicit substances has continued to grow higher and higher every new day.
According to him, “It is even surprising that students in secondary schools and even primary schools have become the targets of unscrupulous drug peddlers, who take these drugs to their schools.
Olabulo alerted that prohibited substances like Colorado, Codeine, Indian hemps, Skunk, Tramadol Rophynol, Strong, Loud and other dangerous drugs have found their way into schools and portend great danger to the future of the nation.
He called attention to abuse of drugs among youths as the excessive use of overdose of cough syrup, especially those that contain Codeine.
He linked drug abuse in the country to increase in banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, murder and other forms of crime as well as unprecedented rise in broken homes and mental disorderliness.
He therefore called on the government and the relevant agencies to dedicate more time, energy and resources to the advocacy and enlightenment on drug abuse and illicit trafficking
He advocated, “Religious institutions should also join in the fight against drug abuse. They should not just celebrate: Valentine Day, Fathers’ Day, Mothers’ Day and other days of less importance. Deep teachings on drug abuse in our religious places will go a long way in the fight against the scourge. Schools and other institutions of learning also have a role to play in the fight against drug abuse and illicit trafficking. It is the responsibility of all of us to put our hands and energies together to fight drug abuse in our country, Olabulo said.
Also, the Lagos State Police Command Spokesperson, SP Benjamin Hundeyin warned students to avoid the use of hard drug, as it attracts a 15 year jail term upon conviction by the court.
He stressed, “The legal consequences of drug abuse in Nigeria according to National Drug Law and Enforcement Agency Act provides punishment or a sentence of 15 years but not exceeding 25 years while trafficking drugs is punishable by life imprisonment.
“When a minor or teenager commits a grievous offence, he or she will be considered a juvenile offender which are those who commit or are apprehended to have committed any act that would be a crime if they were not underage and they can be jailed in the juvenile prison”.
SP. Hundeyin while speaking on the “Effect of Drug Abuse on Security in Nigeria”, pointed out that it has permeated the society, affecting individuals of all ages, backgrounds and socio-economic statuses.
He explained that it is a pervasive problem that has far-reaching consequences, extending beyond the individual to impact families, communities, and the security of the nation as a whole.
Though he was represented by ASP Omoyayi Zaina Atinuke, the police spokesperson opined that prevalence of drug abuse in Nigeria is a cause for great concern.
The Spokesperson hinted that studies and statistics revealed a disturbing trend, with a significant number of the youth falling victim to the allure of illicit substances such as Rophynol, Cannabis, Codeine, Tramadol, popularly known by their street name Ice, Colos, Downer, Molly, Special K, Acid, Coke, School boy, Angel dust, Upper speed.
He also said that drug knows no boundaries, as it affects urban centres, rural areas, and even the most remote regions of the country.
He informed that perpetrators of the drug crime operate across borders, exploiting the vulnerabilities in the systems and facilitating the inflow of illicit substances into the country.
He however said that the Police cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the growing menace, because the Nigeria Police is committed to ensuring the safety and security of our great nation.
The Spokesperson also noted that there is a nexus between drug abuse and security as he maintained that it directly contributes to increased crime rates, posing a threat to the safety and well-being of the communities.
He added, “Drug-related offences and criminal activities such as robbery, theft and violence are often fuelled by the need to sustain drug habits or by the influence of substances impairing judgement and rational thinking thereby jeopardising the safety of our communities.
“It also leads to the spread of gang activities, because the distribution of these drugs are associated with organised criminal gangs, these gangs create a climate of fear and intimidation within communities as they compete for control over drug markets leading to violent turf wars.
“Furthermore, drug trafficking, which thrives on the demand created by drug abuse, poses a direct threat to national security. Criminal networks involved in the trafficking of drugs not only perpetuate violence and corruption but also undermine the rule of law.