Pubdate: Tue, 05 Jul 2011 Source: Vanguard (Nigeria) Copyright: 2011 Vanguard. Contact: http://www.vanguardngr.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/2890 Author: Suzan Edeh RISING VIOLENCE, CRIME WAVE: THE DRUG CONNECTION When the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, in Bauchi State, started its fight against crime, it discovered that 75 percent of youths in the state were under the influence of drugs. This explains why criminal activities are increasing everyday in the State. Apart from youths who get involved in drug abuse, others engage in the sale of hard drugs because it is seen as a lucrative business and a ready source of income. Some of these drug merchants are highly placed persons in the society. The Agency collaborated with all the security agencies in the State in the investigation, arrest and prosecution of suspects in courts. Against this backdrop, the agency took advantage of the June 26 celebration by the United Nations against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking in the world to embark on a campaign to sensitize the state government, stakeholders, youths and media practitioners on the dangers of drug abuse and trafficking. It also used the occasion to educate the public on what drug abuse is all about and how they can identify these drugs. Apart from just creating awareness on drug abuse, the agency took steps to encourage members of the public to join in the war against drug abuse. The occasion was graced by Governor Isa Yuguda's representative and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Development, Mr John Naina; the wife of the Governor and initiator of Challenge Your Disability Initiative, CYDI, Hajiya Abiodun Hauwa Yuguda; media practioners; staff of Bauchi NDLEA; NGOs and security agents in the state. Since drug abuse is a national problem and requires collaborative efforts of all to fight the scourge, the stakeholders and youths drawn from primary, secondary and tertiary institutions attended the event. The Bauchi State NDLEA also took the campaign against drug abuse to the doortsteps of primary and secondary schools by forming club and associations to drum support for the campaign among the youths in these institutions. Drug education They also used the occasion to task the youths to refrain from abusing drugs. It was in the light of this that the Federal Government introduced drug education, so that youths can be sensitised against drug abuse at a very tender age. A curriculum has alreadybeen developed by the Federal Government to enhance the teaching of drug abuse in schools across the country. The Bauchi Commandant of the NDLEA, Mr Sule Mamadu, who highlighted the activities of the agency in the state said: "There is a need to ensure that our communities are drug-free and that is why the United Nations has chosen this day for the campaign against drug abuse in the world. When drugs are abused, they usually result to all manner of crimes being committed in the society. When you see hoodlums behave the way they do, they are under the influence of drugs. These drugs when abused, have the ability to rid one of his or her senses. We have a lot of them, ranging from suck and die, tyre solution, Indian hemp, cocaine, pit toilets, gutters and nicotine and many more. Drugs do not augur well for the society and when there is threat to life and property, there can be no development". He declared that the war against drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking is a war for everybody to fight. According to him, gone are the days when people leave law enforcement agencies to do all the work; now everyone has a stake in solving the problem of drug abuse. Drug rehabilitation centre The State Commandant revealed that the Command presently runs a drug rehabilitation centre for drug addicts in the State, adding that so far, the Command has rehabilitated 36 drug addicts and convicted eight persons in court this year. Mr. Mamadu who stated that the Command has 125 cases pending before it at the Federal High Court, however warned the defence counsels who use all avenues like adjournments and other technicalities to knock-off cases of suspects, to refrain from such acts because "if the defence counsels continue in this manner, they will not only be promoting crime in the state, they will make some of these suspects unrepentant". He then used the occasion to ask the State Government to hasten the passage of a legislation on drug abuse by the Bauchi State House of Assembly. He also sought the assistanace of the State Government to enable the Agency build a modern drug abuse rehabilitation centre for drug addicts. Vanguard Metro sought to know from a staff of the Nigerian Civil Defence, Abdul Garba, the nature of the partnership the Defence and other security agencies forged with the NDLEA towards apprehending drug addicts and people who traffick in drugs. He had this to say: "The fight against drug abuse should not be left for the NDLEA alone; it should be a combined effort of all security agents in the State. This includes members of the public. This is because when crime is committed, we will all be affected; nobody can say that he or she is not involved in this war". He called the state government to equip the various security agencies in the state with adequate security facilities such as good patrol vehicles, security alerts, ambulances and other incentives to make their jobs easier. Mr. Abdul Garba also appealed to security agents to be more proactive in the fight against crime and drug abuse, because according to him: "If we as security agents show more commitment towards security issues in the state and do our jobs effectively, we will minimise, to a large extent, problems like bomb explosions rocking various parts of the country in the recent times. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.