Senate decries rising cases of illicit drug trade
Rallies pharmacists’ council, NDLEA, NAFDAC against traffickers
Nigerian Senate has expressed concern over the growing rate of youths actively involved in global illicit drug business, calling on the Federal Government and relevant agencies to step up control measures.
Specifically, the Senate urged the Federal Government to restructure and reposition the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency to be able to meet the challenges of evasive drug traffickers using Nigerians to traffic drugs.
They also urged the Nigerian Police Force, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria (PCN) to develop a collaborative approach towards curbing the incidence of drug use and abuse within the country.
The Senate mandated the House Committee on drugs and narcotics to consider an urgent amendment of Section 23 the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria Act, to include the sale of prescription pills over the counter as an offence punishable by the Act.
Lawmaker representing Lagos East Senatorial district, Gbenga Ashafa, in a Motion, noted with serious concern the engagement of some Nigerians in the usage and smuggling of hard drugs into Southeast Asian Countries and other parts of the world.
Ashafa observed that the Malaysian authorities have again issued a strong statement that 40 percent of the foreigners being arrested for drug offences are from Nigeria.
“So far, 30 out of 80 foreign students arrested in 2015 were Nigerians, in a country where drug trafficking attracts the supreme retribution.
“In their desperation, these Nigerians are disguising as ‘University Students’, colluding with drug syndicates (predominantly outside Nigeria) there to undermine the visa system and gain entrance into Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and other drug traffic routes. On getting there, they abandon the education agenda and get busy with their illicit and illegal drug business activities; trading in opiates, cocaine, heroin, cannabis and amphetamines. The Colleges/Universities have been told to keep a lookout for those who sign up for courses and don’t turn up,” he said.
The lawmaker was worried that the involvement of Nigerians in this dangerous enterprise is tarnishing the image of the country.
“Our Nationals are viewed with suspicion and subjected to demeaning treatment at airports across the world as a result of this Negative perception. Equally worried that the Federal Government has not swung into strategic action to curb the menace of drug couriers and their sponsors both in and out of Nigeria. ”
H said that the Senate was not unaware that the NDLEA is doing its best within its powers as presently constituted.
Further Aware that while the incidence of lifting of the drugs from Nigeria in itself has become few and far between, those involved have found a way of picking up the narcotic substances while in transit, considering that most flight from Nigeria to some of the countries at stake like Thailand and Indonesia are not direct flights.
Equally Aware that in April 2015, Indonesia, another Southeast Asian Country that imposes the death sentence on drug traffickers, executed four Nigerians despite pleas for leniency by Nigeria, the United Nations and Amnesty international.
“The four were among the 11 Nigerians facing execution for drug offences. In spite of this, some desperate Nigerians are not deterred. According to newspaper reports, the case for leniency was rendered impotent because, at that point, seven fresh cases of drug trafficking involving Nigerians had just emerged in Indonesia.
“Aware also that apart from the cases in Malaysia and Indonesia, at least one Nigerian is on the death row in Singapore for drug-related offences. But the situation in China, which also punishes drug trafficking with death penalty, is alarming. Two Nigerians were executed in China in April 2015, but 120 other Nigerians are still on the death row for drug-related offenses, with 74 of them being held in Guandong and Guanxi provinces. Harm Reduction International (HRI), a United Kingdom based NGO, said 33 countries impose the death penalty for drug related offenses.
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