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Bishop Isong tasks FG holistic crime, drug abuse war

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By Joseph Kingston, Calabar

The national publicity secretary of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and presiding Bishop of the Calabar-based Christian Central Chapel Int’l (CCCI), Bishop Emmah Gospel Isong, has charged the federal government to holistically fight the menace of drug abuse saying it was the root cause of crimes and all forms of criminality in the country.

Isong, who said it was difficult to fight and win the war against crime without first attacking drug abuse, made the remarks in Calabar, weekend, during the 7th Emmah Isong Annual Public Lecture on ‘Curbing Drug Abuse: A Major Panacea to Reducing Crime in Nigeria.’

He said the level of destruction witnessed during the hijacked #EndSARS protest could not have come about without the impulsive effect of drugs, insisting that it would be practically impossible to win the war against crimes if governments at all levels and the society in general did not fight drug abuse first.

“We need to fight illicit use of drugs before going ahead to fighting crimes.

“We have enough laws already on ground to arrest the menace of drug abuse; in fact, in the next 300 years, we should not make another law on it. All we need is implementation of the existing laws and recommendations. Our problem is the lack of political will by leaders and the led. We all need to come together and change the narrative by stopping the definition of government as a particular person but seeing it as ‘you and I’,” he stated.

The guest lecturer, Mr Rekpene Bassey, said people abused drugs for various bio-psychosocial reasons, lamenting that drug abuse was increasing by the day.

Bassey, a one-time Cross River state security adviser, said “A survey carried out in 2017 by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Federal Ministry of Health and United Nations Office on Drug and Crimes (UNODC) discovered that 14.4 percent of persons between the ages of 15 and 64 were involved in the use of dangerous drugs.

“It further revealed that while 66 per cent of children on the streets are on drugs, 88 per cent of these children are actively involved in crime. In the next 25 years, if nothing is done, over 100 million Nigerians will be involved in drug abuse.

“Other factors that give vent to crime include huge unemployment, proliferations of small arms and light weapons, endemic corruption, staggering poverty, poor policing, lack of political will to fight crime and poor criminal intelligence.”

To reduce drug abuse, Bassey recommended sustained campaigns on drug demand reduction (DDR) and drug supply reduction (DSR), as well as introduction of drug abuse awareness programmes in Nigeria’s educational curriculum. He further advised parents and guardians to monitor their children and wards closely to detect their use of drugs early enough.

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