Member Activity

NATIONAL WORKSHOP ON DRUG LEGISLATIONS AND POLICIES

Theme: “Evolving Effective Domestic Drug Legislations and Policies towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals”
Date: Monday, 24th July 2017-07-27
Venue: Committee Room 244, National Assembly Complex, Abuja, Nigerira.

Communiqué

The Workshop was organized by People Against Drug Dependence and Ignorance in collaboration with the Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, House of Representatives.

The Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, Hon. Kehinde Agboola, representing the Chairman of the Committee, Hon (Mrs) Eucharia Okwunna, declared the Workshop open. In his address, Hon. Agboola looked forward to the Workshop coming up with actionable recommendation that will assist the National and State Legislatures evolve appropriate, sustainable and practical Legislations and Policies on Substance abuse related matters. The First Ladies of Ondo and Imo States presented Goodwill Messages and likewise expressed expectations that their expectations from the Workshop. Presentations at the Workshop were by Ms. Cristina Albertin, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) Country Representative in Nigeria and Eze Eluchie, Esq., the Executive Director of People Against Drugs and Representative for Sub Sahara Africa on the Civil Society Task Force on the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the Worlds Drug Problems (CSTF-UNGASS).

Conscious of the fact that the three major international drug control treaties, to wit: the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961 as amended by the 1971 Protocols; Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1971; and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988, represent substantive international benchmarks in addressing Substance abuse issues globally;

Also conscious of the fact that Nigeria is a State Party to the three international treaties and has consistently (as recent as in the Country’s Statement before the General Assembly Plenary at UNGASS on World Drug Problems) reaffirmed its commitment to the subsisting international treaties and the Revised African Union Plan of Action on Drug Control (2013-2017) which emphasizes the need to distinguish between criminal and health care components in addressing the Substance abuse issue.

Recognizing the fact that children and young persons under the age of 30 years - an age bracket that is amenable to imbibing positive values on substance abuse control when properly structured in prevention programs, make up over 75% of the Nigerian population.  

Aware that Article 33 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Nigeria is a State Party enjoins States Parties to the Convention to do all within their capacity including ‘legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect children from the illicit use of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties’.

Further Aware that Section 25 of the Child Rights Act prohibits the exposure of children to the use trafficking and production of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

Dismayed by the high level of ignorance amongst Nigerian children and youths of the dire consequences of illicit use of substance

Further dismayed by the near-total absence of any data or statistics on Substance abuse amongst Nigerians resulting from the absence of any agency or organ of government specifically charged with responsibility to receive, collate and maintain such data

Shocked at the near non-availability of Substance abuse Counselling, Treatment, Care and Rehabilitation services in Nigeria, and the absence of any agency charged with ensuring the availability of these services to the Nigerian population; 

Motivated by the practice in some sister-African countries, particularly Kenya and South Africa, where specialized agencies have been established with responsibility for Substance abuse Prevention, Counselling, Treatment, Care and Rehabilitation services;

Inspired by an earlier at a Workshop organized in collaboration with the Committee on Drugs and Narcotics of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria dated 10th day of October, 2000, to the effect that: “There is the dire need to establish an autonomous national agency (a National drug Abuse Prevention Agency – NDAPA), to be responsible for policy formulation and program implementation on drug abuse reduction in Nigeria. The present situation where a plethora of federal institution and agencies formulate and implement at-times divergent approaches and policies to tackle the scourge of substance abuse, is not to the best interest of the national desire to curb and eliminate drug abuse from our society. The core-personnel for NDAPA will be drawn from existing substance demand reduction units in Federal agencies such as the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), National Drug law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Ministries of Health, Youth etc”;

Further inspired by the palpable disposition of the 8th Session of the National Assembly to work assiduously towards people-friendly legislations aimed at correcting societal ails;

Realizing the important role of law enforcement in protecting society, enforcing substance abuse legislations and the need to enhance the level of expertise and professionalism of the officers and men who undertake essential, patriotic and risky duties to combat illicit drug trafficking, cultivation, production and marketing;

Also realizing that the inherent awkwardness in situating Drug Law enforcement functions in the same entity as Substance abuse Prevention, Treatment, Care and Rehabilitation, a situation that has a potential of undermining vital aspects of efforts at addressing the Substance abuse situation;

Worried about the avalanche of advocacy efforts (generally initiated and influenced by forces outside of the African continent) aggressively campaigning for the liberalization, normalization, legalization of the abuse of substances contrary to explicit provisions of existing international substance abuse treaties;

Also worried that our weak public health infrastructure, which is already overwhelmed with Primary Health Care concerns, Maternal and Child care issues, and infectious diseases, will be least prepared to cater for the avalanche of tertiary health care concerns if ongoing clamour for liberalization, normalization, legalization of the abuse of substances should materialize;

Further worried that our weak security infrastructure will be further overstretched, and may thus not be able to cope, with the deluge of Substance abuse related infractions in the event of the liberalization, normalization, legalization of the abuse of substances – thus necessitating enhanced specialized training, exposure to latest drug supply control strategies and procedures;

The following are hereby recommended:
1. A distinct Federal agency, responsible for Substance abuse Prevention, Treatment, Rehabilitation and Care issues should be created. The recommendation for an agency to be known as the National Drug Abuse Prevention Agency (N.D.A.P.A.), earlier made by a Workshop organized by People Against Drug Dependence and Ignorance with support of the Committees on Drugs and Narcotics of the Senate of the Federal Republic and the House of Representatives in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, in October 2000, is hereby endorsed.

2. All 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, are likewise enjoined to establish Drug Abuse Prevention Agencies with responsibilities as highlighted in the paragraph above.

3. A holistic and comprehensive data-base of the domestic drug abuse situation (types of substances abused, age of initial use, gender disparities is any, and so on) should, as a matter of utmost priority be ascertained and collated to ensure a clearer perspective of the nation’s drug problem and thus enhance the possibility of effective and adequate response.

4.  All strata’s of governments should undertake spirited and immediate efforts to invest in the training of requisite professional in the areas of Substance abuse such Drug Counsellors, Psychologists and other Mental Health and Social care professionals to ensure the availability of sufficient manpower and human capacity to undertake the task ahead regarding Nigeria’s expanding efforts at addressing substance abuse issues.

5. The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Act should be amended to ensure that Drug Law enforcement, Supply Control and interdiction functions and allied matters constitute the primary and sole purpose of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency. In this regards, Sections 6(1)c, 7(3)a, b, and c, should be excised/expunged from the NDLEA Act – these are the only portions of the 45 Sections in the NDLEA Act which tend to confer functions over Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation services on the generally law enforcement entity, which the NDLEA by its substantive statutes is.

6. While all efforts should be made at preventing the initiation of illicit use of illicit substances, abuse of substances, particularly in the case of addiction, should be recognized as a health condition deserving of treatment, care and rehabilitation where necessary.

7. The investigation, interdiction, arrest and prosecution and other drug law capabilities of the NDLEA should be vigorously enhanced to ensure that the NDLEA is able to effectively deliver on its mandate with regards to Drug Laws enforcement.

8. In keeping with international best practices and efforts at prioritizing health-care concerns, the coordinating agency with regards to issues surrounding Nigeria’s efforts should be domiciled in the Ministry of Health or Social services or similar nomenclature and not the Ministry of Justice. Addressing the substance abuse issues should be viewed more as a public health issue as opposed to being a criminal justice problem.

9. Civil Society and Community Based Organizations are enjoined to coalesce into networks to galvanize sufficient grassroots and popular support towards ensuring that best global practices in the area of addressing substance abuse demand reduction and control issues are adapted to the Nigerian situation. This will ensure that the Nigerian population keys in and takes ownership of efforts at addressing the Substance abuse situation and avoid the current regime of an ‘us-against-them’ mindset which is prevalent, resulting from the present primacy of the criminal justice component in addressing substance abuse issues.   
 
Dated this 25th day of July 2017
Workshop Organizing Committee
People Against Drug dependence & Ignorance