The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) has urged the federal government to rehabilitate drug abusers, rather than prosecuting them.
The association, popularly known with its Spanish acronym Federacion Internacional de Abogadas (FIDA), made the call as part of activities to mark the international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking, July 26.
In a press briefing on Wednesday by its national president, Rhoda Tyoden, FIDA described persons found culpable in allegations of drug abuses as having been “exploited”.
She urged the government for their rehabilitation, as an alternative to “overburdening” the country’s prisons with their convictions.
“FIDA Nigeria calls on all to recognise and properly address the growing menace of drug abuse and illicit trafficking in society. The Federal Government must realise that rather than treating those who have been exploited as criminals and overburdening our prisons, more should be done to rehabilitate the individual and reintegrate them into society.”
The association also called on the government to address the root cause of drug abuse, which it said comprised of poverty and social marginalisation.
“The federal government should adhere to the International human rights standards it has ratified and mainstream a gender and age perspective into drug-related policies since women and children are especially vulnerable to exploitation in the illicit drug trade. Legal age restrictions on existing drug-related health services should be reviewed, and accessible drug dependence treatment, and harm reduction services should be provided.
“Finally, the federal government must prioritise and address the root causes of involvement in the drug trade, including poverty and social marginalisation. This is a matter of urgency, and FIDA Nigeria calls on the government and all relevant agencies come with up with a pragmatic and holistic approach to tackle this menace that has bedevilled our country.”
“We also call on non-governmental organisations, international organisations, parents, religious bodies, traditional rulers, heads of schools at various levels (primary, secondary and tertiary institutions) and the entire community to wake up and fight to save our children especially from the tragedy of drug abuse and illicit trafficking,” the statement said.
According to a survey conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the rate of drug use in Nigeria in 2018 was twice higher than the global average of 5.3 per cent.
The international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking was created by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on December 7, 1987.