The Commissioner of Police in Lagos, Mr Imohimi Edgal, made the call during a seminar organised by Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria (CRAN),
Edgal made the call during a seminar organised by Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria (CRAN), with the theme: “Stop the Stigmatization of Ex-Drug Users and Human Trafficking”.
The seminar was to mark World Day Against Drug and Human Trafficking.
Edgal said that four out of every 10 young persons would be involved in drug soon if nothing could be done about it by parents, guardians and those in authorities.
He called on other security agencies for synergy in tackling the menace.
He advised that security agencies should not limit themselves to enforcement, noting that sensitisation was important.
“The issue of drug abuse has been a major problem. In fact, I feel we need to declare a state of emergency on drug abuse in Nigeria. We need to ask ourselves how we got here.
“Drugs had been there since we were young but the difference is that we had parents that cared; we had family structures, but now, all are broken down. Societal values are gone.
“Family is supposed to be a platform upon which every other thing grows. If that family influence is missing, one ends up being vulnerable to crime,” the police boss said..
He regretted that some parents had become afraid to confront their children over drig abuse.
“Before now, the school cared about the conduct of students, but now no one cares.
“Religious leaders should dedicate time to tell the people evils of drug abuse. It is only a sane society that listens to spiritual message.
“We will continue to do our own part. I want a safe environment where our children can grow up to contribute their quotas to the development of the society,” he said.
The CRAN President, Mr Odita Sunday said that the fight against drug abuse should not be left for security agencies alone.
“Everyone needs to join in the fight,” he said.
He advised that victims of drug abuse should be shown love and encouragement since they were fighting a battle within.
“Our youths are being ravaged by drugs. This is one of the reasons Codeine was recently banned. We cannot leave the fight for agencies alone.
“To end drug abuse, stop stigmatization. Once a drug user decides to give up on drugs, show him love and encouragement.
“Let him know there is a better tomorrow and that they are drug users does not mean they are failures,” he said
Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, rights activist and Oresident of Women Ar8s3 Initiative, , who was the guest lecturer at the event, also condemned stigmatisation of drug victims.
She said that it could make the victim to shy away from help.
“When you stigmatise, you are giving the victim room for continuation.
“Stigmatisation is described as being bad or having a situation to be ashamed of. When you label a person or stigmatise, you make the society develop fear, discriminatob for the person.
“The effect it has on the victims are: they fear to come out, delay in seeking necessary help and have self stigmatisation, and this generates into low self esteem.
“Let us develop our lives, community and identity without drugs,” she said.
She also frowned at human trafficking, describing it as an abuse of basic rights by organised criminals preying on vulnerable people to make money.
“Victims of drug abuse and trafficking require love, equal opportunity, positive affirmations, employment opportunity, support and assistance toward their recovery.
“To proffer a solution, we need research, rehabilitation, reunification and reintegration,” she added.
Mrs Tanwa Ashiru, a security expert and also a guest lecturer at the event, said that it was necessary to ensure that rehabilitated drug victims did not return tobrhe crime.
“We must create hope and way for the victims. They already fought battle themselves. Why do we now stigmatise."
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that about 100 persons attended the seminar, including primary school pupils, security agents, entertainers and rights activists.