By Habibu Harisu
The Chief Of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Faruk Yahaya says the Nigerian Army will hold periodic sensitization programmes against drugs abuse and other related issues in all its formations nationwide.
Yahaya gave the assurance when he declared open a drug and narcotics control awareness conference, on Thursday in Sokoto.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was organised by the Nigerian Army, NDLEA, and an NGO, Initiative Against Addition and Substance Abuse in Nigeria.
“Recently, the 8 Division experienced a sad incident where a soldier deployed at Forward Operations Base Rabbah, killed his colleagues and shot himself.
“While the outcome of the board of inquiry is been awaited, it is necessary to reiterate that preliminary investigation revealed that the soldier was under the influence of drugs.
“This sad event would have been averted if someone had been observant on the soldier’s attitude and have reported the issue to higher authority, ” the COAS said.
Yahaya represented by General Officer Commanding (GOC), 8 Division, Nigerian Army Sokoto, Maj.-Gen. Godwin Mukut, said such situation had made it imperative for barrack communities to participate in the fight against drug abuse.
Yahaya described the level of drug abuse in the country as an “epidemic”, particularly among the youths.
“This makes this sensitization programme extremely important and very timely,” he added.
He said that the myriad of security challenges confronting the country have necessitated the deployment of troops alongside other security agencies in various theatres of operation.
”These operations often expose the troops to significant pressure with its ripple effects ranging from deaths, injuries, damage to equipment, accumulated stress, to other post traumatic health-related cases,” Yahaya said.
He therefore directed Commanders at all levels to organise periodic sensitization of personnel under them on the dangers associated with substance abuse.
According to him, the campaign is coming at a good time and will provide ample opportunity for the personnel to understand issues related to drug abuse and guidance on the management of addicts.
”I am glad that this sensitization is taking place in the North West where banditry, kidnapping and other forms of criminalities associated with drugs are common.
“The rate of drug use and peddling in this general area is alarming and calls for concern.
”The sensitization programme is not only aimed at creating awareness among officers, soldiers and their families but civilians alike, since drug use and peddling cut across all spheres of the society.”
Earlier, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the NGO and the Etsu Nupe, called for concerted efforts to end the abuse of hard drugs in the country.
Abubakar, who was represented by Alhaji Abdulrahman Okene, blamed terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and other violent crime in the country on the abuse of hard drugs.
He said that the NGO would continue to work with traditional and religious leaders, as well as relevant institutions to intensify the campaign against drug abuse.
The Etsu Nupe said drug abuse has dealt massive damage to the country and may seriously affect the future generation, if coordinated actions were not taken to address the problem.
The Sokoto State Commandant of NDLEA, Mr Iro Adamu, described drug abuse as the root of all evils and enjoined Nigerians to join the campaign to sanitize the country of illicit drugs.
He urged the people to be actively involved and report those trafficking the drugs to relevant authorities, in order to ensure a drug-free society.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that awards were presented to some individuals, including Sen. Aliyu Wamakko, the COAS and others, for their immense contributions to the war against drug abuse. (NAN)