Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that for the fourth year running, crime reporters in Nigeria have taken up the gauntlet in championing the cause against drug abuse and human trafficking in persons
The International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is a United Nations campaign against drug abuse and its illegal trade. It has been observed annually on June 26, since 1989. The observance was instituted by General AssemblyResolution 42/112 of December 7, 1987.
In commemoration of this, the Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria (CRAN) has for the fourth year running held series of seminars to take a stand against the menace. To mark this year’s drug day, they took stakeholders and guests to Radisson Blu, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos to reiterate on the menace breeding crime in the society.
Themed ‘Drugs are Addictive, Escaping is Hard, Don’t Start’, the seminar attracted representatives of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Nigerian Army (NA), religious groups, NAPTIP, NGOs and the entertainment industry.
In her address, Human rights activist, Dr. Joe Odumakin said there is need to declare the state of emergency as there are not enough hands dealing with the menace of drug abuse and human trafficking in the society.
She said: “Drug abuse is an abnormal use of drug and too much of everything is bad. There is a nexus between drug abuse and human trafficking as the recruitment are sometimes through drug use. They use the drug either to cope, control or as a reward.
“This is why I always tell people that always want to be like someone that it is wrong because you may not be able to do what they do. To overcome drug abuse and human trafficking, one needs to deal with the triggers which sometimes come in form of boredom, depression, loneliness, anger, rejection, anxiety and stress.
“We also need to talk to ourselves as the root is the heart. We can replace these bad habits with good habits like sports. Choose to make difference, no matter the case, be part of the situation. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.”
The special guest of honour, Comptroller General of Immigration, Mohammed Babandede, who was represented by Mrs Helen Onwuzuwike, a Contoller of Immigration, observed that more people are going into drugs which breeds crime in the society.
He said: “It also leads to suicide which is happening at an high rate in the society. Adult and even children are not left out which should be curtailed.
We are happy for a seminar like this which aims at spreading the message to curb the menace. We at the immigration will also spread the word that drug is not good for us, it’s not good for our children, our parents and members of the society.
“You find people taking sniper to commit suicide which is as a result of drugs which came through our borders. We appreciate this gesture by the Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria and we will also join in spreading the message.”
She added that the Federal Government is working “towards making the border more secure to control illegal movement of persons especially those involved in human trafficking. We have a lot of officers posted to the border to make sure this irregular movements of people and drugs are stopped. The officers are trained on border management as the CGI do not sleep. We all have to come together with other security agencies to curb this menace. It’s a continuous battle so on behalf of our CG, we will make sure we do our best”.
The Clergy’s Liturgy
Ven. Adegoke Agara, Dean Archbishop Vinning Memorial Cathedral Church (AVMCC), Anglican Cathedral, who was a guest lecturer at the event said drug abuse and human trafficking has been a menace which the church should also join in tackling. He added that the situation is so bad that it had eaten deep into the primary school level.
He said: “We need to make people know that drug is dangerous and we should not succumb to peer pressure as a lot of destinies have been destroyed because of this. If there is a problem in a place, God does not come down to solve the problem but puts the burden on people, who will act on it which is what we are doing now. I pray that we act on whatever we discuss here today.
“Human trafficking is also a modern day slavery and I pray that God will see us through. On the other hand, drug abuse is taking illegal substances that causes addiction and loss of consciousness. An average child has the tendency of going out and get influenced with drugs but it takes a trained child to desist from it.
“The theme of today’s seminar is “Drugs are Addictive, Escaping is hard, Don’t Start” which is why we should not go into it. Churches should be involved in educating people not to go into it at all.”
He added that people should learn from the cases of some artistes and famous individuals who are now a shadow of themselves due to drugs.
CRAN President, Mr. Sunday Odita said the event was a seed that CRAN is sowing to stop the menace of drug abuse.
He said: “We deemed it fit to kick start this campaign to enlighten people being deceived into drugs and human trafficking. How long are we going to continue saying the menace of drug abuse is not our concern, what happens when our children become victims. Everyone has to come together so that we can talk about how we can at least reduce drug abuse.
“The challenge we however have in reporting cases of drug abuse and human trafficking is that victims shy away from sharing their stories because of the stigma.”
He urged members of the public to speak up whenever they find themselves in situations like this adding that it’s cheaper to prevent than having to cure the addiction.
Mrs Comfort Sanni, who represented the NAPTIP Lagos Zonal Commander, Mr Daniel Otukolo emphasised the need for all security agencies to embrace partnership in tackling the menace of drug abuse and human trafficking.
According to her, the media and members of the public are not left behind as it is a menace to be tackled by all.
Dr Bone Efoziem, CEO Strict Guards said it’s difficult for a society to have a future without the younger generation, adding that the menace of drug abuse needs to be tackled as it is affecting the youths more.
Stressing that the issue of drug abuse needs to be addressed as it concerns everyone, he said: “Drug abuse is all about any urge to use a drug not minding the consequences therefore addiction makes it difficult for you to resist. There is need to look at the root cause of addiction which is abuse. Without abuse, there can’t be addiction.”
He urged parents to always check on their children as any vaccum created can be occupied with bad habits.
Deputy Director, Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre (NAFRC), Colonel Kingsley Umoh, said: It’s about awareness creation and the advocacy that goes with such awareness creation. We should all be conscious about what the issues are and how we can avoid the menace.”
To round off the seminar, CRAN presented an award of excellence to Pastor Tony Rapu of God Bless NIGERIA Church, and founder, Freedom House Foundation, for the massive work they have been doing in rehabilitating drug abuse victims. Represented by Mr Steve Nduka, he said they have been doing it in the past 30 years and have no plans of stopping.