Akinbode Oluwafemi (Deputy Executive Director, ERA/FoEN)
The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has praised the Nigeria Police – Lagos Command for commencing the clampdown and destruction of hard drugs throughout the state.
The group also wants the police to expand its drug war to assisting the Ministry of Health enforce sections of the National Tobacco Control Act recently announced by the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole.
Lagos Commissioner for Police, Mr. Edgal Imohimi had last week coordinated the seizure and destruction of hard drugs worth over N50million at Ojota, in addition to the arrest of suspects linked to the drug business.
Imohimi listed some of the drugs destroyed to include Arizona drugs, S.K Kong, Indian hemp and codeine. He told newsmen during the destruction exercise that the campaign against hard drugs was just the beginning.
In a statement issued in Lagos, ERA/FoEN said the campaign by the police to rid Lagos of hard drugs was long overdue and will send a strong message to purveyors of hard drugs that Lagos is no longer a safe haven for the illicit business.
ERA/FoEN Deputy Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “While we see this initiative by the Lagos police as a life-saver and very timely, the effects will be far-reaching if extended to the point of sale of cigarettes dotting the Lagos landscape that have been points for recruiting underage smokers”.
Oluwafemi noted that youths who take to hard drugs always start with cigarettes hence the campaign to rid Lagos of hard drugs will only be successful if there is corresponding enforcement of sections of the NTC Act 2015 recently announced by the Health Minister, relating to the sale of cigarettes to minors.
The ERA/FoEN boss said it was gratifying that the police is taking this action on the heels of the recent release of the Big Tobacco Tiny Targets Nigeria Report which exposes widespread sale of tobacco products along paths of Primary and Secondary schools in five states, and the growing number of deaths from substance abuse.
In the identified states, including Lagos, there was deliberate display of tobacco products next to sweets and drinks, making them easily accessible, and sales of single tobacco sticks at very affordable rates, among other tactics of getting children to smoke and ultimately addicted to smoking.
Aside Lagos, other states documented in the report are Nasarawa, Enugu, Kaduna, Oyo.
Oluwafemi explained that the fact that the Big Tobacco; Tiny Targets Nigeria Report documents cases near schools around Lagos puts a huge responsibility on the police to clampdown on such point of sale and prosecution of individuals and companies found targeting underage smokers through that means.
“We do not mince words when we say we welcome the Lagos police’ seizure and clampdown on hard drugs and partnership with other agencies of government to nip the hard drug menace. Enforcing the NTC Act will bring about a speedy attainment of a drug-free society,” Oluwafemi insisted.