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Illicit drugs prevalence: NDLEA blames court as Ebonyi CSOs consult stakeholders for drug free action

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The growing rate of narcotics use, drug and substance abuse, especially among youths in Nigeria has remained an issue of great concern to both the government and well meaning citizens.

As efforts are made by concerned agencies to curb the distribution, peddling and abuse of existing ones, new and more dangerous drugs stealthily find their ways into the market on a daily basis, thereby compounding the problem.

For instance, the emergence of a crystal narcotic hallucinogen, Methamphetamine, codenamed ‘Mkpuru mmiri’ in Igbo language over the past few years, has brought a fatal dimension to drug abuse and its related criminal activities among youths, especially in South east, Nigeria.

There have been recurring reports of persons who killed their parents, wiped their own families, or committed one heinous crime or the other under the influence of the drug in recent times. The trend has become so worrisome that some of the drug prone communities have adopted self policing methods in curbing the menace.

To add impetus to this fight against drug/substance abuse and its resultant crimes in the zone, a Civil Society organization in Ebonyi State, Development and Integrity Intervention Goals Foundation (DIG) with support from the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), recently brought together stakeholders to plan collaborative action towards achieving a drug free society.

The event, Project Planning/co-creation meeting, held in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital, had in attendance, selected community youth leaders, traditional rulers, town union executives, representative of women groups and other key stakeholders from the pilot communities: Enyigba in Abakaliki Council area, Ameka and Umunna in Ezza South and Afikpo South Council areas respectively.

Representatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, the Police, National Orientation Agency, the State Ministry of information, as well as the media, also participated in the meeting.

All the participants were in agreement that actions needed to be intensified in order to save the future of the country.

They regretted that apart from the very dangerous Methamphetamine, otherwise called Crystal Meth and other known illicit drugs such as Marijuana, cocaine and the likes, most youths abuse common medical drugs such as Cough syrups, pain killers, sometimes mixing them with alcoholic drinks to produce greater narcotic effect, a situation which they observed, further complicates the fight.

Sharing his experiences during the meeting, the Assistant Commander, Drug Demand Reduction, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Ebonyi State Command,  Godwin Erepa, partly blamed the persistent illicit drug use and distribution on the Courts’ failure to always meet offenders with adequate punishments.

He noted that the Agency only has the powers to arrest drug offenders and charge them, while the courts reserve the right to prosecute and prescribe punishments. He regretted that most times, the punishments assigned to offenders by the Courts, ranging from minor fines to casual labour were not often strong enough to serve as deterrents.

Erepa narrated: “In one of our operations in Afikpo, for instance, we went through a very tasking and complex process of arresting a notorious drug dealer, who escaped on transit.

“We trailed and rearrested him after some months and handed over to the Court.

“But could you imagine the punishment given to him by the Court after prosecution?

“He was just asked to sweep their offices for two weeks, and was set free afterwards, to continue his illicit business.”

Erepa noted that the lacuna informed the recent proposal being pushed by NDLEA national boss, General Buba Maruwa, to allow the Agency the powers to prosecute drug offenders.

Others who spoke at the meeting, including the traditional ruler of Enyigba Community, Michael Nwobashi; Town Union President of Umunna Community, Onuoha Amah; a woman leader, Virginia nweze and the Director of Information in the State Ministry of Information and orientation, Kama Egwu, as well as Simon Mbam of the National orientation Agency, Ebonyi State office, blamed the high rate of youth involvement in drugs to unemployment with its consequent poverty and frustration.

While they called for sustained collaboration between governments, civil society organizations and well meaning citizens in the fight, they pledged to join hands with DIG foundation and UNODC to promote drug free actions in the State.

Drawing action plans, the participants agreed that integrating repentant drug addicts/users in both advocacy/campaigns against drugs would produce positive results through instrumentality of experience sharing.

They also identified greater involvement of patent medicine dealers, pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria and other relevant professional bodies; the media and other security agencies in the fight.

Focus group discussions, radio and television programs, talk shows, youth focused training, conferences; workshops and the use of social media were further suggested as viable platforms to advance the fight.

In an opening remark, the Executive Director of DIG foundation, Oliver Aja Chima, explained that the objectives of the meeting were to brief stakeholders on the UNODC supported project, seek stakeholder’s adoption, inputs and participation.

He added that the meeting was also to enable participants to brainstorm on the best approaches in the project implementation, assign roles and responsibilities and map out other stakeholders that could be integrated for better result

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Sanwo-Olu, GAC, Lagos APC urge party members to conduct themselves during congresses, primaries

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Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has appealed to leaders and members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner during the forthcoming primary elections and congresses of the party in the State.

 

He also appealed to them to abide by the tenets of the ruling party during the primary elections, as well as the elections of local government, state and national delegates.

 

Governor Sanwo-Olu made the statement during the Lagos APC Stakeholders’ meeting held at the party’s secretariat in Acme Road, Ogba on Tuesday.

 

He said it is the responsibility of party members to live, work and dream in the tenets of the party as APC conducts its congresses across the state on Wednesday and therefore urged the party’s faithful to conduct themselves in an orderly manner and comply with the party’s guidelines.

 

In his address, the leader of the Governance Advisory Council (GAC), the apex leadership body of Lagos APC, Prince Tajudeen Olusi, charged all the party members to work hard for the ruling party to retain Lagos during next year’s elections.

 

He also advised the party members to ensure that people with integrity are elected during APC congresses and primaries, adding that they must discourage saboteurs from being elected as delegates and party candidates during the APC primaries and 2023 polls respectively.

 

Also speaking, the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, appealed to APC members to support, work and abide by any decision made to ensure the party’s success in order for it to continue to reign.

 

He appealed to the party members to sacrifice where necessary for the common interest and the progress of the ruling party, especially in the interest of the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who is running for the 2023 presidency.

 

Speaking earlier, Lagos State APC Chairman, Pastor Cornelius Ojelabi, said the business of forthcoming congress and primary elections of the party should not be seen as a do or die affair by the delegates.

 

He said they should see both the congress and the primaries as a contest.

 

Pastor Ojelabi while imploring party members to use internal mechanism to resolve conflicts said no local government chairman or party chairman at the council level had a right to write a letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for redress on any issue without first exploring the internal conflict resolution of the party.

 

Lagos APC chairman also encouraged party leaders and members to show commitment and passion toward the ongoing continuous voters’ registration by encouraging people to register for their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) before the June 30 deadline.

 

The stakeholder’s meeting was attended by Governor Sanwo-Olu, his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; GAC members, Lagos APC executives, members of the Lagos State Executive Council, members of the National Assembly and Lagos State House of Assembly, Conference 57 and party’s chairmen from 20 local governments and state’s technical support committee, among others.

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Why we must create a country that works for us all, by Osinbajo

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“We must create a country that works for us all – a peaceful and secure society founded on law and order and the rule of law; a society that enables commerce and values productivity, so that large and small businesses can grow and provide jobs and opportunities for millions of young people, a society where no one is left behind.”

These were the words of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, this morning when he was formally honoured with the award for Leadership Person of the Year 2021 at the Leadership Newspapers’ Annual Conference and Awards ceremony which held today at the International Conference Centre (ICC), in Abuja.

In January this year, Prof. Osinbajo was named the Leadership Person of the Year 2021, alongside the Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO), Nigeria’s Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

The leading national newspaper had noted in its citation that the VP is a worthy recipient of the award “for his key role in steadying the ship of state through the storms as well as laying the foundation for the social intervention programmes of the current administration.”

Speaking at the event, after receiving the award, the Vice President noted that we must also create a country that can provide, “by means of an effective social welfare scheme, a safety net for the very poor and the vulnerable; a united and tolerant nation where all, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or political persuasion, are respected, treated fairly and justly, and have equal access to all opportunities.”

The VP added “we must build a Nigeria where a boy or girl does not say that, ‘I am from the South-West, or I am from the North-West, or South-South or North-East, or North-Central or South-East, but that I am a Nigerian, a citizen of one of the greatest and most prosperous nations on earth.

“This is the kind of Nigeria that those of us in this political tendency, to which Sam Nda-Isaiah belonged, all attest to and believe.”

Prof. Osinbajo dedicated the award to “millions of Nigerians who believe in this new Nigeria, and who retain faith in our possibilities as a people and are doing their best every day in their various corners to build this nation through honest endeavour.”

“To these people of goodwill who are working hard to promote peace, tolerance and to build a country that truly represents all of our dreams; to those working hard to build bridges, those who have refused to be frustrated or even wearied by the trials of our country as it grows and continues into the fullness of its manifest destiny.”

According to him, “it is because of such Nigerians, that despite the great challenges we are passing through on our march of progress, I am certain that we will build this great Nigerian nation that we all yearn for.”

Thanking the Management of the Leadership Group led by its Chairman, Mrs Zainab Nda-Isaiah for the recognition, the VP also commended the Group “for forging ahead” following the loss of its Founding Chairman and Publisher, late Sam Nda-Isaiah, who died in December 2020.

The event also marked the late publisher’s 60th post-humous birthday.

Prof. Osinbajo noted that “the late Sam Nda-Isaiah was a dogged achiever who stood for integrity in public life and embodied the finest traditions of Nigerian journalism. He believed fervently in the role of the media as an umpire of public discourse and in its mission of elevating the quality of public debate. I am gratified that the values he lived by continue to be ardently represented by this organization.”

The Vice President also recognized his co-awardee, Dr Okonjo-Iweala, who he noted is a globally affirmed finance and development expert, and a true Nigerian patriot.

“Every glass ceiling she has broken, and they are many, has inspired girls and women all over the world to reach for the highest heights in all fields of human endeavour,” he stated, regarding her.

Dignitaries present were several State Governors, including Dr Kayode Fayemi – Ekiti; Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya – Gombe; Bala Mohammed – Bauchi; Aminu Tambuwal – Sokoto;  members of the National Assembly and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs and Strategy, Mr. Muhammad Sani Zorro, who represented the First Lady, Aisha Buhari.

Other dignitaries included His Royal Highness, the Etsu of Nupe and Royal Father of the Day, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, CFR, who presented the award to the VP; Rev. Father Patrick Alumuku, who represented the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan-Kukah; and also delivered the keynote address themed, “Resetting Nigeria: Culture, Politics, Geography and the role of Big Ideas.”

Senior government officials and members of the Diplomatic Corps also attended the event.

After the Abuja event, the VP proceeded to Kano State to continue his nationwide consultations with stakeholders and delegates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the State.

Earlier on arrival in Kano this afternoon, the Vice President stopped by the scene of Tuesday morning’s explosion in Sabon Gari area of the State, to commiserate with victims, before proceeding with the interactions with the APC stakeholders.

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