CSOs seek repeal of drug laws in Nigeria

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have advocated the repeal of drug laws in Nigeria, which according to them, do not take into cognisance the health and human rights of people who use drugs.

They stated this at a stakeholders’ roundtable on drug control and criminal justice reform in Nigeria, held at the Administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee Secretariat, Abuja.

The Advocacy Manager, Youthrise Nigeria, Seyi Kehinde, who spoke at the event, said it was high time the Nigerian drug laws were in tandem with current realities.

He said the continued criminalisation of drugs for personal use was posing a lot of health challenges to a large number of the Nigerian population who use drugs.

“Nobody wants to be seen as a criminal. So, it is difficult for people who are sick as a resulting of using drugs to come out publicly to seek medical help,” he said.

In his presentation, Nonso Nduka, a pharmacist, said 40 per cent of the high risk drug users want treatment but are unable to get it, stressing that chronic pain and high blood pressure stood out as the two main conditions drug users were diagnosed with during a nationwide survey.

He said that there were only 11 drug treatment centres in Nigeria but were ran as psychiatric centres, which discouraged people with problematic drug use cases to go there for treatment.

Also speaking, Chief of Staff to the Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mr. Femi Oloruntoba, said the agency was at the fore-front of the campaign for the repeal of drug laws in the country.

He also said that government must improve funding for the agency to purchase necessary equipment and meet obligations under the ACJA.

“Training must be made a priority and must be continuous and there must be adequate members of staff to do the job of the agency as there are only 4,864 members of staff nationwide presently,” he added.

The roundtable, which was put together by Youthrise Nigeria, West Africa Drug Policy Network, African Law Foundation with support from Administration of Criminal Justice Monitoring Committee, had representatives from the police, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Prisons, National Human Rights Commission, ministries of Justice and Health as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs).