Chidinma/Ataga saga: Otive, Marwa, others warn on drug abuse

Public health experts and anti-substance abuse campaigners, have warned of the dangers of drug abuse which is traceable to the tragedy that occurred between Usifo Ataga and Chidinma Ojukwu recently in Lagos .

The anti- substance abuse campaigners who gave the warning on Saturday in Abuja in commemoration of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, also cautioned Nigerians, especially food vendors, to desist from the practice of using paracetamol as tenderiser in cooking meat and beans, saying it can cause kidney and liver failure.

While making reference to the recent killing of Super TV CEO, Usifo Ataga by 21-year-old Chidinma Ojukwu under the influence of hard drugs and alcohol, the experts listed commonly abused drugs in Nigeria to include cannabis, cocaine, rohypnol (roofies), tramadol, amphetamine, heroin, diazepam, codeine and cough syrup.

The theme of the event organised by the Association of Hospital and Administrative Pharmacists of Nigeria (AHAPN) Abuja branch is ‘Share Facts On Drugs, Save Lives’.

Speakers included the Chief of Staff to the Deputy President of the Senate, Pharmacist Otive Igbuzor; Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brigadier General Mohammed Buba Marwa; Chairman, AHAPN Abuja Branch, Dr. Abubakar Danraka among others.

In his remarks, Pharmacist Igbuzor, who chaired the event, expressed worry that the rate of drug abuse in Nigeria is about thrice the global average of 5.3 percent.

He harped on the need to share research findings, evidence-based data and life-saving facts to combat the menace of drug abuse.

His words: “Statistics show that drug abuse affects the youth more as 70 percent of drug abusers in Nigeria are youth. The facts are chilling. A study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 2018 indicated that 14.4 percent or 14.3 million people aged 15 and 64 years in Nigerian abuse drugs. This is very high compared to global annual prevalence of 5.6 percent. The drugs mostly abused are cannabis, opiods (tramadol, codeine or morphine) and cough syrups containing codeine.

“There is no doubt that drug abuse and illicit trafficking continue to have a profoundly negative impact on socio-economic development and stability of communities across the world.”

In his keynote address, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa (rtd), lamented that 90 per cent of criminalities in Nigeria is linked to drug abuse and illicit trafficking.

Represented by Mrs Chizoba Etuka, Marwa solicited the support of everyone in tackling the menace, saying ” the phenomenon of drug abuse has reached a worrisome level requiring collective effort to it.

He highlighted the dangers of drug abuse to include incapacitation of work force of organisations, ruining of communities and societies, disintegration of families among others aside given rise to all types of crimes such as insurgency, terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, rape and violent extremism.

On his part, Dr. Danraka warned against abuse of rohypnol also known as roofies, date rape drug, forget me drug among others.