The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on Monday said it had seized 159 million tablets of Tramadol at Apapa Port in Lagos. Director, Technical Services of the agency, Mr Femi Oloruntoba, made this known at a public hearing organised by the Senate Joint Committee on Drugs and Narcotics and Health in Abuja.
Tramadol is a narcotic-like pain reliever used to treat or moderate severe pain. The public hearing was based on a motion entitled “The Need to Check the Rising Menace of Pharmaceutical Drugs Abuse among Youths in Nigeria”. Oloruntoba revealed that 50 tonnes of Tramadol was recently destroyed in Kano alone. He said there were laws guiding the use of controlled drugs like Tramadol and Cocaine and what was needed was enforcement of the laws. “
In 2016, about 31 different substances were abused in Nigeria,” he said. The director noted that drug was on in the exclusive legislative list and should not be taken to the concurrent, adding that if that was done otherwise, there would be a huge anarchy.
He lamented that only the Federal High Court had jurisdiction to try drug cases, describing it as “a challenge”. He said that because the cases could not be prosecuted in magistrate court, most of the time the Federal High Court was choked and a lot of cases not moving,” he said.
Oloruntoba, therefore, called on the Federal Government to increase the number of judges in the federal high court to try cases of drug abuse.
In his submission, President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria,
Ahmed Yakasai, called for the drafting of a prescription policy to curb drug abuse menace. “We are trying to see where we have prescription policy. If we have this prescription policy, we will know who is doing what,” he said.
Yakasai, who said that Nigeria’s borders were porous, decried existing situation which forbids National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), was not allowed access into the ports.
On his part, Director-General of the agency, Prof. Christiana Adeyeye, said the agency lacked adequate manpower for frequent visitation to pharmaceutical companies.
Represented by Dr Umar Musa, Director, Narcotics and Controlled Substances, Adeyeye said drug problem was a genuine crisis that required collective efforts to tackle.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Senate Committee, Sen. Joshua Lidani, said the use of illicit drugs, trafficking and other pharmaceutical drugs abuse, particularly among women and youth, was worrisome and was increasing by the day.
“This calls for concern and urgent action to stem the tide. “It behooves stakeholders to strengthen and redouble our efforts to tame it, and where possible, strengthen the capacity of agencies charged with the responsibility of enforcing relevant laws to enable them discharge their responsibilities effectively.”