The high rate of drug abuse in Abia State has been strongly condemned by the Abia Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). Speaking on the occasion of the 2023 International Day Against Substance Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking, Mr. Dogo Yusuf, the Commander of NDLEA in Abia, expressed his concern about the situation. He pointed out that this was evident from the long queue of individuals awaiting admission at the NDLEA’s rehabilitation center in Aba. The global theme for the event was “People First: Stop Stigma and Discrimination, Strengthen Prevention.”
Yusuf lamented that the rehabilitation center in Aba could not accommodate all the victims in need of assistance due to the overwhelming number of drug abuse cases in the state. The lack of space further highlighted the severity of drug abuse in Abia. He urged the residents of Abia to reject stigmatization and extend support to those who were already struggling with drug abuse, helping them find their way back to a normal life.
The commander stressed the importance of community support in the agency’s efforts to eliminate stigmatization and discrimination against drug abuse victims. He emphasized that individuals grappling with drug abuse were human beings deserving of dignity, understanding, empathy, and the necessary support to feel safe, respected, and encouraged to seek treatment.
While acknowledging the challenges faced by the agency, Yusuf echoed the message of the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, Retired Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa. He called upon the people of Abia to stand firm and break down the barriers of stigma that hindered victims from seeking help. Despite logistical difficulties, the Abia Command had achieved considerable success in prosecuting and convicting drug criminals. Yusuf appealed for assistance in terms of logistics and vehicle donations, as effective drug control efforts required well-equipped vehicles to reach affected areas.
He further emphasized that combating the prejudices and stereotypes that impeded victims’ access to healthcare and promoting acceptance would foster a society that supports and embraces individuals on their journey to recovery.