At least 153 Nigerians are presently awaiting execution for their involvement in illicit global drug trade in Malaysia and China, the Senate has declared.
A development, the senate said, was very embarrassing to the country and needs to be curtailed by the Nigerian government through relevant agencies. Thereby urging the Federal Government to restructure and reposition the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), to be able to meet the challenges of evasive drug traffickers using Nigerians to traffic drugs.
Senate’s resolution to this effect was sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Gbenga Ashafa (APC Lagos East) and supported by 21 others.
Ashafa, in the motion entitled: “Nigerians involvement in illicit global drugs trade and increase in domestic drug abuse by Nigerian youth,” raised the alarm that many Nigerians are currently on death row in different countries of the world for their involvement in illicit drugs which attracts capital punishment in those countries.
He disclosed that Harm Reduction International (HRI), a United Kingdom-based NGO, said 33 countries impose the death penalty for drug-related offences.
According to him, not less 153 Nigerians are presently on death row in Malaysia and China alone for alleged offences bordering on illicit drugs trafficking.
He said “apart from the cases of Malaysia and Indonesia, at least one Nigerian is on death row in Singapore for drug-related offences.
“Two Nigerians were executed in China in April 2015, but 120 other Nigerians are still on death row for drug-related offences, with 74 of them held in Guandong and Guanxi Provinces.
“Four out of 11 Nigerians were executed in April 2015 by Indonesia despite pleas for leniency by Nigeria, the United Nations and Amnesty International.”
Senator Ashafa was worried that in spite of the executions, some desperate Nigerians were not deterred, stressing that “the case for leniency was rendered impotent because, at that point, seven fresh cases of drug trafficking involving Nigerians had just emerged in Indonesia,” going by newspaper reports.
He noted that these desperate Nigerians used to disguise as university students colluding with drug syndicates to undermine the visa system and gain entrance into Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and other drug traffic routes.
According to him, 30 out of 80 foreign students arrested in 2015 were Nigerians in Malaysia where authorities have confirmed that 40 per cent of foreigners arrested for drug offences are from Nigeria.
Senator Ashafa, therefore, expressed worry that Nigerians’ involvement in drug business is tarnishing the image of the country, saying “our nationals are viewed with suspicion and subjected to demeaning treatment at airports across the world as a result of this negative perception.”
He lamented that the Federal Government had not taken action to curb the menace of drug couriers and their sponsors within and outside Nigeria.
The Senate, therefore, urged the police, NDLEA, NAFDAC, Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria, PCN, and other regulatory agencies to develop a collaborative approach towards curbing the incidence of drug use and abuse in the country.
It also mandated its Committee on Drugs and Narcotics to urgently consider amendment of Section 23 of the PCN Act, to include the sale of prescription pills over the counter as an offence punishable by the Act.
In their contributions, Senators Sam Anyanwu (PDP Imo East), Oluremi Tinubu (APC Lagos Central), Barau Jibrin (APC Kano North) and Ovie Omo-Agege (LP Delta Central) condemned the rate at which the youth are involved in drug-related offences.
Senator Tinubu specifically called for the establishment of more rehabilitation centres to handle those already addicted to drugs.
Ruling on the motion, the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, stressed the urgent need to curb the menace among the youth before it escalates.