Legalized illegal drugs in Nigeria – Obasanjo

West African governments should overhaul their drug laws to
decriminalize personal use and prioritize treatment as a response
to rising substance abuse in the region, former Nigerian president
Olusegun Obasanjo said on Tuesday.
In an interview before he was due to present a model drug law to
regional officials in Senegal, Mr Obasanjo urged authorities to
channel resources into fighting large-scale trafficking, which he
said was undermining regional democracy.
The use of substances like cocaine, heroin and amphetamines is
rising in West Africa despite strict drugs laws.
Countries that once served primarily as transit points for trade
between South America and Europe are now active consumer
markets.
“All of us in West Africa know now that drugs are not just in transit
through our countries.
“Our youth are becoming more and more consumers, even some
form of drugs are being produced,” Mr Obasanjo said.
According to the UN, in 2016, the last year for which data was
available, Africa registered the second-highest growth in cocaine
seizures behind Asia.
Abuse of opioids, particularly the cheap painkiller Tramadol, has
become a major health crisis in Nigeria and neighboring countries.
The recommendations by Mr Obasanjo’s West Africa Commission
on Drugs come as a number of countries look to decriminalise drug
use, especially marijuana, after decades of enforcement appear to
have done little to curb it.
Canada legalized recreational marijuana in June and most U.S.
states have legalized the drug for medical or recreational use.
Prominent political figures have also called for decriminalisation in
Mexico and Brazil in recent years.
Mr Obasanjo’s commission has only an advisory role and it is up
to national governments, often reluctant to scrap longstanding
drug regulations, to decide whether to accept its proposals.
Mr Obasanjo served twice as Nigeria’s head of state: once as a
military ruler in the 1970s and then again as a democratically-
elected president from 1999-2007. Drug enforcement was strict
during both his stints in office.
But he cited his own encounters with drug offenders during a stint
in Nigerian prison in the 1990s under the dictatorship of Sani
Abacha as he urged governments to find alternatives to
incarceration.
“Prison does not reform. If anything it hardens,” he said.
Mr Obasanjo named Senegal and Ghana as two countries that are
moving to expand treatment options.
Senegal has since 2014 opened centers to treat addicts, while
Ghana is considering a proposal to exempt first-time offenders
from prison terms.
He said criminal syndicates, human traffickers and jihadist groups
are profiting from the drug trade.
In some cases, he said, politicians in Nigeria and elsewhere are
using the proceeds to finance political careers, he added.
“(I) fear that they may be creeping into our fledgling democracy
and political life,” Mr Obasanjo said.

2 Comments

  1. hmmmmm

  2. Okay

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