By Adaora Ezeaka
The Awkuzu community in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State has declared its intentions to punish drug offenders in what it called a declaration against manufacture, sale or abuse of illicit drugs and Substances within Awkuzu.
They also warned that any person caught producing, selling or consuming them after the declaration will face the full wrath of the law.
This is to compliment the vision of the Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, Retired Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa to fully rid the country of illicit substances and to continued aggressive pursuit of drug cartels, barons and traffickers anywhere they may be within the country or even outside of drug abuse.
The warning was issued in a 5 paragraphs declaration at the end of a Town Hall Meeting convened by a Non governmental Organisation (NGO), “Balm for the Bruised Foundation,” (BFBF), in conjunction with the town’s Tradditional Ruler’s Committee on Drug Eradication on Thursday.
The Declaration expressed concerns about the increasing abuse of illicit drugs and substances among the youth population, its consciousness, adverse health consequences and harmful effects of the drugs substances.
“The abuse of illicit drugs and substances is both morally wrong and unlawful and results in adverse health consequences, including psychological and mental challenges, hence will no longer be tolerated in Awkuzu.
“That the criminal groups involved in the supply chain, including manufacturing and distribution of these illicit drugs and substances, especially Methamphetamine (Mkpulu mmili), Tramadol, Codeine and others, will no longer be tolerated in Awkuzu as all lawful means shall be deployed against their criminal activities”.
“Awkuzu Community shall strengthen partnership with the Law Enforcement Agencies especially the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to address the high incidence of abuse of thses drugs and substances in order to reverse the ugly trend in Awkuzu.
“That all stakeholders in Awkuzu including the public and private sectors, religious organisations and Non-governmental organisations shall adopt anti-drugs and substances abuse approach in its activities in order to rid Awkuzu of this ugly menace.
“That Awkuzu Community shall regularly organize sensitization programme to enlighten our young population about the adverse health consequences of non-medical use of illicit drugs and substances” it stated.
In his speech, the Igwe of Awkuzu, Professor Anikweze, who said tthe problem of drug and Illicit substance abuses are not peculiar to Awkuzu Community or Anambra State but a national phenomenon, regretted that the greatest actors and victims of the ugly menace are young people, who are leaders and custodians of the future.
Earlier in her welcome address, The Chief Executive, Balm for the Bruised, Princess Ekwi Ajide, explained that the essence of the programme was to sensitize people on the need to stay away from hard drugs especially Mkpulumili as well as finding a way to curb the menace.
She said the town hall meeting was aimed at enabling them fashion out plans that would be more suitable for the African setting in tackling the problem.
She called on youths to disassociate themselves from anything that can truncate their dreams and solicited more engagement in scheme of things to give them a sense of belonging.
Contributing, the Guest Speaker, South East Zonal Coordinator of the International Society of Substance Use Prevention Professionals (ISSUP), Professor Michael Ezanwa, listed effects of hard drugs to include damage to the brain, the Spinal cord and influence thought, perception and behaviour.
Professor Ezenwa who is a Lecturer at the Department of Psychology Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, warned that unless communities tackle the problem of substance use urgently, development may elude them.
Other speakers including the Onowu of Awkuzu, Architect Eric Onyekwena, a member of the Committee on drugs eradication, Chief Michael Chilokwu and Awkuzu youth leader, Comrade Chigozie Muozie commended the initiative, saying it would go a long way in curbing the menace.
According to them, the abuse of hard drugs which is a threat to future development of any community is ravaging the town.
The town hall meeting which had commenced with a road walk which took the traditional ruler, his cabinet, members of Balm for the Bruised Foundation and Awkuzu youths round the town sensitizing people on the health dangers and consequences of hard drugs and illicit substances terminated at Saint Raphael’s Catholic Church Awkuzu, venue for the town hall meeting.
Some participants at the town hall meeting, Chinenye Nwankwo, Obiora Chinweze and Ikechukwu Okuzu were full of praises for the organizers, and urged fellow youths to shun any kind of hard drug especially Mkpulumili as it destroys their future and community.