By Victor Nwachukwu
Imo Governor, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, has promised to set up Anti- Drug Abuse Committee in the state to tackle the incidence of illicit drug trafficking and drug abuse.
Ihedioha made the promise in Owerri on Wednesday at the commemoration of 2019 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking organised by the Imo Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
Ihedioha, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Security, Mr Raymond Ikemdirim, said his administration would partner the NDLEA and other security agencies in the fight against drug abuse.
“In partnership with the NDLEA, we will take the bull by the horn to tackle drug abuse by setting up the Imo Anti-drug Abuse Committe.
“This is to ensure that substance abuse is brought to the barest minimum,” the governor said.
Ihedioha said that the cardinal trust of his administration was the empowerment of youths and the vulnerable group to engage them from being involved in any form of crime and drug-related activity.
He commended the NDLEA and other security agencies for their efforts and synergy in curbing the incidence of drug abuse.
The governor pledged the commitment of his administration to tackle drug trafficking and abuse in the state.
The Imo NDLEA Commander, Mr Nse Jack, had earlier lamented the failure of the previous administration to establish the committee, describing it as a great loss to the state.
Jack described the committee as a requirement in the state, adding that the NDLEA recorded successes such as the seizure of 248.53 kilogrammes of hard drugs and arrest of 67 suspected traffickers in 2018.
According to him, a clandestine laboratory manufacturing methamphetamine was also discovered by the agency in Obinigwu village in Orlu Local Government area of the state with suspects currently undergoing trials at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
He said that in 2019, about 130.17 kilogrammes of hard drugs were seized, 30 drug abusers counseled, three drug-dependent persons undergoing rehabilitation, while 53 suspects were arrested and currently being prosecuted.
The state commander also said that public enlightenment campaigns on the dangers of drug abuse were carried out by MTN in partnership with the agency in schools and tertiary institutions across the state.
Jack enumarated the dangers of drug abuse to include damage to vital organs of the human body such as the kidney, liver and lungs as well as its implications on the socio-political and economic well being of the people and the future generations.
He said the theme of the occasion – “Health for Justice, Justice for Health” – was to bring to the fore the fact that justice and health were two sides of the same coin when dealing with the problem of drugs.
Mr Eze Eluchie, a lawyer and Director of People Against Drug Dependence and Ignorance (PAADI), a non-governmental organisation, urged the governor not to relent in his resolve to fight drug abuse.
He said that the incidence of drug abuse was increasing by the day with dare conseguences to the state, adding that 85 per cent of Nigerians arrested across the globe with the majority were Igbos.
“No state can continue to loose its citizens. There is need to holistically confront the issue of drug abuse in Nigeria and the state in particular.
“Something should be done to directly or indirectly discourage drug abuse among our children and youths.
“Tackling drug abuse is part of rebuilding the state as clamoured by the present administration.
“Infrastructure and road construction is not enough. The rebuiding of the state must start from the mind of the people,” Eluchie said.
NAN reports that highlight of the event was a drama presentation by the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Drug-free Club, Owerri. (NAN)