From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Ambassador, National Assembly Joint Committee on Drugs and Narcotics, Dr Mrs Christabel Okoye, has taken the campaign against illicit drugs to various markets in Onitsha where medicine dealers operate
Okoye who is also a consultant and the Executive National Secretary of National Association of Nigeria Drugs Monitoring (NANDRUM) said the visit was more of a familiarisation and friendly visit to the markets so as to interact with the traders and urge them to maintain ethical standards by distancing themselves from the sales and promotion of illicit drugs and narcotics.
Accompanied by the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Afam Obidike, represented by Mr. Emmanuel Oguaju and the Commander, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mrs. Florence Ezeonye represented by Mr. Fidelis Erhi, the team visited the International Drugs Market Onitsha popularly known as Ogbogwu Bridge-Head, Ogbaru Relief Market Drugs Dealers, and Ochanja Market Drugs
The visit to Ose and Onitsha Main Markets was slated for another day.
During the visit, she admonished the executives of each of the markets on the inherent dangers of peddling fake and illicit drugs. She also urged the traders to shun the selling of hard drugs, warning that it has serious consequences both on them and the society at large.
She reminded the traders that the stories in the public domain about Onitsha concerning fake drugs and hard drugs has not been a positive one even as she stated that walls have ears and for that reason, they should be mindful of whatever they do in the course of their businesses.
“The stories concerning Onitsha drug dealers are not palatable. The news everywhere is that Onitsha is a dumping site where fake drugs and hard drugs are produced and sold. Fake drugs and hard drugs are dangerous to health and for this reason you people should desist from peddling them. No matter how much you make out from it, it has destroyed the society especially our youths,” Dr Okoye warned.
In a response, Caretaker Chairman of Ogbaru Main Market, Chief David Obidike eulogized Dr Okoye for her familiarization tour describing her mission as a worthwhile venture.
Chairman of Ogbaru Main Market Drug Dealers Chinedu Mmakwe lauded Dr Okoye for her visit and informed her that NAFDAC had already endorsed them as counterfeit free drug dealers which they said they would always maintain.
Also speaking, the patron of Ochanja drug dealers, Dr. Chibuike Peter explained that their members constituted taskforce and enforcement team that checkmate sales of fake and hard drugs.
He commended Dr. Okoye for her initiatives in visiting drug dealers, even as Mr. John Ngwuagu and Mr. Obiora Oraemsi posited that they would try their best to checkmate counterfeit drugs among their members.
Contributing, Mr. Emmanuel Oguaju who represented the Anambra State Commissioner for health, Dr. Afam Obidike reminded the traders that they are stakeholders in the fight against fake drugs and drugs abuse, stressing that the issues about drugs abuse has become alarming.
Similarly, Mr. Fidelis Erhi who represented commander National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency ( NDLEA) Mrs. Florence Ezeonye listed Tramadol, Methamphetamine (Mkpulumili), India hemps and others as hard drugs that were prohibited from being sold, warning that offenders are liable to prosecution.
Speaking to newsmen shortly, Dr Okoye said ” The purpose of the visit was for advocacy. “We just came for familiarity visit to drug dealers. We decided to visit seven drugs Market in Onitsha because of how the country is going down on drugs abuse and trafficking.
“We have visited Ogbogwu International Market, Ose, Madueke, Ochanja and rest of them to let them know that as far they keep doing these, the country will continue to go down, no matter the money they make from it.
“We used the visit to warn them on the possible repercussions if they are apprehended by the national Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, because the body is empowered to seize and take peddlers to court even without involving police.”
She disclosed that 2022 version of the sensitization workshop would include five thousand march against fake drugs, drugs abuse and trafficking in Anambra State, noting that they would involve even students who are in the secondary school and tertiary
She further disclosed that after the familiarization tour, normal sensitization workshop would commence which, according to her, holds annually.
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