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Drug War: Marwa wants removal of fine option from NDLEA Act



Drug War: Marwa wants removal of fine option from NDLEA Act

Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) (m); Chairman, Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, Senator Hezekiah Dimka (r) and member of the Committee, Senator Francis Fadahunsi during the 2022 budget defence by NDLEA at the Senate.

…As NDLEA proposes drug test for intending couples, others in Jigawa***

The Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, (NDLEA), retired Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa has said that the removal of the fine option from the NDLEA act would strengthen the deterrence effect of court prosecution and conviction.

Marwa said that the clause that allowed for the option of fine for drug offenders from the agency’s Act was currently undergoing amendment in the National Assembly.

The NDLEA boss stated this in his remarks while defending the 2022 NDLEA budget proposal before the Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics chaired by Sen. Hezekiah Dimka on Wednesday in Abuja

This is contained in a statement by the NDLEA Director, Media and Advocacy, Mr Femi Babafemi, in Abuja.

Marwa said that he had also visited the Chief Judge, Federal High Court of Nigeria, Justice John Tsoho, on the issue of ridiculous options of fine given to some drug traffickers,

He, however, said the removal of the clause that allowed Judges to use discretionary powers to give options of fine would resolve the jigsaw.

Also read: NDLEA seeks Nigerians’ cooperation in fighting drug abuse

Marwa, while defending the N38.1billion 2022 budget proposal, said though the allocation may not solve all the problems facing the agency it was a great improvement on the previous budgets.

“As such, we want to thank President Muhammadu Buhari, the Finance Minister, Attorney General and Minister of Justice and more importantly, the leadership of the National Assembly and this esteemed Committee on Drugs and Narcotics for giving us all the support we need to make the progress being talked about today”, he stated.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee congratulated Marwa for the successes recorded by the agency since his assumption of office.

Dimka added that there was no doubt that Marwa’s approach and manner of operations in the fight against drug trafficking and abuse were extraordinary.

Other members of the committee including the Vice-Chairman, Sen. Chimaroke Nnamani, expressed support for the good work the NDLEA was doing.

They promised to enhance and pass the budget to enable the agency to achieve greater feats next year.

In the same vein, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has sought the support of the Jigawa government to compel intending couples and candidates for admission into tertiary institutions to go for the drug tests.

NDLEA’s Commander in the state, Hajiya Maryam Gambo, made the call on Wednesday at the inauguration of the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) in Gumel, Gumel Local Government Area of the state.

Others to be subjected to the drug test include employment seekers as well as those aspiring for political positions.

Gambo said the measure was to check drug abuse among residents of the state, to reduce the menace to the barest minimum, describing the prevalence rate in Nigeria as “worrisome,” compared to a global average.

According to her, the 2018 UNODC/Ministry of Health survey indicated that 14.3 million Nigerians, between ages 25 and 64 engaged in drug abuse in the country.

“The World Drug Report ranked Nigeria as the leading country in the abuse of cannabis.

And these statistics should worry Nigerians.

“Also, over 2,000 tons of hard drug valued at N90 billion was seized in the country in 10 months.

Just last month, over 200 persons were arrested including 49 females.

“Girls, mostly in high schools organise drug parties even here in Jigawa State.

“Therefore, NDLEA is soliciting government support to subject residents to drug tests when they are making arrangements for marriage, admission, employment and more importantly, those aspiring for political positions,” she said.

The Commander said that WADA was inaugurated in June 2021 by the Chairman of the agency, Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa (retired), aimed at eliminating drug abuse and trafficking in the country.

“Sequel to the inauguration of WADA programme nationwide, the initiative is aimed at eliminating drug abuse and trafficking in Nigeria, hence the need to replicate it in Gumel Emirate.

“The reason for gathering very important dignitaries today, especially traditional institutions is because you are the custodians of the tradition and mouthpiece and ear of your various communities.

“Therefore, I want the WADA message to be passed to the grassroots.

“The reason why this message must reach all nooks and crannies of Jigawa is that in every community and every home, there is the problem of drug abuse.

“And as we are all seated here today, everyone is affected directly or indirectly.

“Directly in the sense that if you are not using or selling these prohibited drugs, your family member may be involved.

“Indirectly in the sense that as part of the community, if your neighbour is involved, you are also involved and this affects the community as a whole,” she said.

The commander said the menace of drug abuse informed the agency direction to initiate WADA campaign in every community across the country, to create awareness on the ills of drug abuse.

Gambo added: “If every member of the society is involved in this fight against drug abuse and trafficking, by the grace of God, we will be able to drastically reduce it to the barest minimum.”

According to her, globally, there has been a strategic shift in the war against illicit drugs, noting that the new strategy calls for more community engagement, hence the massive advocacy rolled out by the NDLEA.

Gambo stated that the agency had successfully pushed anti-drug abuse and trafficking themes into the mainstream media and social media.

She said that the agency has thrown open its door for partnership with NGOs, health ministries and state governments, adding that it has also made a valid case for establishing Drug Control Committees in communities across the country.

“By and large, prevention is still the best panacea to the illicit drug nightmare.

“We, therefore, implore parents, teachers, traditional institutions and faith-based organisations to reinforce anti-drug attitudes and build up resilience in youths and vulnerable members of our population.

“In the prevention, narcotic organisations rely on the cooperation of the society.

“The fight against illicit drugs is the people’s fight and mileages can only be covered when society owns the fight and provide the necessary support for NDLEA.

“It is not too difficult to reduce that failure to decisively tackle the scourge that has unleashed a drug abuse epidemic in the years to come,” she said.

The commander, therefore, called on well-meaning individuals in the state to join hands with the agency to make it drug-free.

In his remarks, the Emir of Gumel, Alhaji Ahmad Muhammad Sani, thanked the agency for inaugurating the WADA programme in the area.

Sani also appreciated the NDLEA and state government fir for their efforts in fighting drug abuse.

He admonished parents to ensure that they properly educate their children in both western and Islamic education for a brighter future.

The Emir advised security agents in the state to discharge their duties with the fear of God and in accordance with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Muhammad reiterated his council’s commitment to educate the people on the dangers associated with drug abuse.



Health and Safety

650 migrants reach Italy by boat, 190 rescued



650 migrants reach Italy by boat, 190 rescued

 About 650 migrants reached the Italian coast in a fishing boat, the latest in increasing attempts to reach the country.

The boat which was about 30 metres long and overloaded, arrived in the southern town of Roccella Ionica, the Italian news agency ANSA reported on Monday.

The report said the boat departed from Libya and its passengers had been travelling for five days.

The passengers were all men who came from Syria, Pakistan, Egypt and Bangladesh, ANSA said.

They reached the Calabrian town unaided, without the involvement of the coast guard or civilian sea rescuers.

Thousands of people arrived in Italy over the weekend. Dozens of others died in the attempt or went missing because their boats capsized.

Meanwhile, the aid organisation Doctors Without Borders brought 190 Mediterranean migrants ashore to the southern Italian city of Bari.

The group’s Geo Barents vessel reached the port on the Adriatic coast previously assigned by Italian authorities late on Sunday afternoon, it said.

The ship picked up people on Friday from an unseaworthy wooden boat, including several unaccompanied minors.

However, many people repeatedly try to reach Lampedusa, Malta, Sicily or the Italian mainland by boats from Tunisia and Libya, crossing the central Mediterranean Sea in a potentially deadly journey.

According to official figures, Italy has already registered more than 21,000 boat migrants since the beginning of January, or more than three times the number of migrants seen in each of the two previous years, when about 6,000 per year arrived.

– dpa

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Health and Safety

African migrants stuck in Tunisia say racism persists, following weeks of crackdown



African migrants stuck in Tunisia say racism persists, following weeks of crackdown

African Migrants in Tunisia have urged their government to evacuate them, saying the country is no longer safe as racism still persists.

Outside the United Nations refugee agency in Tunis, dozens of African migrants stood protesting this week in the temporary camp where they have lived, including with children, since authorities urged landlords to force them from their homes.

Weeks after a violent crackdown on migrants in Tunisia that triggered a perilous rush to leave by smuggler boats for Italy, many African nationals are still homeless and jobless and some say they still face racist attacks.

“We need evacuation. Tunisia is not safe. No one has a future here when you have this colour. It is a crime to have this colour,” said Josephus Thomas, pointing to the skin on his forearm.

In announcing the crackdown on Feb. 21, President Kais Saied said illegal immigration was a criminal conspiracy to change Tunisia’s demography, language the African Union described as “racialised hate speech”.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf told Reuters on Thursday that Saied’s comments had unleashed “attacks and a tidal wave of racist rhetoric”, with rights groups saying hundreds of migrants reported being attacked or insulted.

Saied and Tunisia’s foreign minister have rejected accusations that he or the government is racist and they announced steps to ease visa regulations for Africans and reminded police of anti-racism laws.

While the official crackdown appeared to end weeks ago, migrants say they still face abuse.

“People told me ‘since you are in our country after the president’s speech, don’t you have any dignity?’ I kept silent and they told me I am dirt,” said Awadhya Hasan Amine, a Sudanese refugee outside the UNHCR headquarters in Tunis.

Amine has lived in Tunis for five years after fleeing Sudan and then Libya with her husband. Now 30, she has been living on the street outside the UNHCR headquarters since local people pelted her house in the capital’s Road district with rocks.

“We want to live in a place of safety, stability and peace. We don’t want problems in Tunisia,” she said.

Although some West African countries evacuated hundreds of their citizens earlier this month, many remain stuck in Tunisia, unable to support themselves let alone afford passage home or pay smugglers hundreds of dollars to ferry them to Europe.

“Tunisia is an African country. Why do they do racist things to us?” said Moumin Sou, from Mali, who was sacked from his job working behind a bar after the president’s speech and was beaten up the next day by a man in the street who stole his money.

Sou wants to return home, he said, but many others are determined to travel on to Europe.

In the wake of the crackdown, in which police detained hundreds of undocumented migrants and authorities urged employers to lay them off and landlords to evict them, smuggler crossings to Italy have surged.

Tunisian National Guard official Houssem Jbeli said on Wednesday that the coast guard had stopped 30 boats carrying more than 2,000 people. On the same day and the following day four boats sank, with five people drowned. 

– Reuters

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Health and Safety

NAFDAC urges journalists to join in fight against circulation, use of bleaching creams 



NAFDAC urges journalists to join in fight against circulation, use of bleaching creams 

 The National Agency For Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has urged journalists to collaborate with the agency in the fight against the circulation and use of bleaching creams in the country.

Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, Director-General (D-G), NAFDAC, made the call while sensitising journalists in the North Central States on the dangers of bleaching creams.

She made the call at a North Central Zonal Media Sensitisation Workshop on the dangers of bleaching creams and regulatory controls which was organised for the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists on Friday in Jos.

Adeyeye said the workshop was aimed at educating and challenging health journalists in Nigeria to play frontline role in the agency’s effort to eradicate the menace of bleaching creams.

The D-G was represented by Dr. Leonard Omokpariola, Director, Chemical Evaluation and Research of the Agency.

 “Bleaching creams damage vital organs in the body, cause skin irritation, allergy, skin burn, rashes, wrinkles and prolong the healing of wounds.

“Black is beautiful, we don’t need to change our color.

“NAFDAC will constantly engage the mass media as we strive to bring down to the grass root levels positive impact of our regulatory activities,” she said.

On his part, Dr. Abubakar Jimoh, Director,  Public Affairs of the Agency, said: “The workshop was meant to educate the mass media with the right information and campaign against the use of bleaching creams in Nigeria.

“Public ignorance is not an excuse before the law. The role of the mass media in the promotion of public health is very important not only for cosmetics and all other NAFDAC regulatory products”. 

In a remark, Mr. Hassan Zaggi, President, Association of Nigeria Health Journalists, said: “Skin bleaching cream is a serious concern among the citizens in the country.

“Why would somebody use his hard-earned money to buy a cream that will endanger his skin?.

“As journalists, we have a responsibility to educate people on the dangers and as well shape the opinion of the people,” Zaggi said.

He appealed to the journalists to pay attention to the workshop for onward circulation of learning outcomes to members of the public. 

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