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Drug abuse: NGO Sensitises Benue Students

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Vanguard Against Drug Abuse (VGADA), an NGO,
says it has begun sensitising secondary schools students in Benue to the negative effects of drug abuse and other social vices.
 
The Benue Coordinator, Mr Alechenu Godwin disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja. 
 
Nigeria News Agency reports that the group had begun its National Campaign against drug abuse since April, 10, 2019 in which Kwara State was visited to sensitise some secondary school students. 

Godwin said that Benue chapter had organised a tour tagged ” Say no to drug and substance abuse” with a view to educating them on the dangers and consequences of illegal drug intake and how to avoid addiction.


 

 drug and substance abuse and it effects.

 
He also said that the menace of drug and substance abuse has taken a new dimension with more of the secondary school students daily getting involved with little or no remorse. 
 
He added that physical dependence manifests when drug intake was decreased or stopped resulting into withdrawal syndrome, which leads to a very distressing experience.
 
“Psychological dependence is experienced when an abuser relies on a drug to produce feelings of well being. 

“Students needs to get accurate and detailed information about substance use from a trusted and reliable adult, be it a parent, a teacher or NGOs who are into drug related issues,” he said.    

 adding that their future was at stake if they do not desist from drug abuse.

 

 

ICA/AFA

Edited by Felix Ajide

Foreign

Russia tests Avifavir anti-coronavirus drug

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Russia is currently carrying out clinical tests of Avifavir, which may prove to be an efficient treatment for COVID-19, the producer of the drug said in a statement on Monday.

“Avifavir is the first direct-acting antiviral drug registered in Russia that has proven effective against COVID-19 in clinical trials,” ChemRar Group said in a statement.

Avifavir is produced by a joint venture of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, Russia‘s sovereign wealth fund, and ChemRar Group, which includes research and development services and investment companies in the field of innovative pharmaceuticals.

The final stage of Avifavir clinical trials involving 330 patients, approved by the Russian Health Ministry on May 21, is ongoing, the statement said.

Efficacy of the drug is above 80 percent, a criterion for a drug with high antiviral activity, it said.

Following the first four days of treatment, 65 percent of the 40 patients who took Avifavir tested negative for coronavirus, which is twice as many as in the standard therapy group, the statement said.

By day 10, the number of patients whose tests returned negative results reached 90 percent, it added.

Avifavir has received a registration certificate from the Russian Health Ministry, thus becoming the first Favipiravir-based drug in the world approved for the treatment of COVID-19, according to the statement.

Favipiravir, sold under the brand name Avigan, is an antiviral medication used to treat influenza in Japan since 2014.

In early June, the first batches of Avifavir will be sent to Russia’s Federal Service for Surveillance in Healthcare for approval for use, the statement said.

Deliveries of the first batches of the drug to Russian hospitals are expected on June 11, it added.

(XINHUA)

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General news

Why illicit drug trade persists in Nigeria– Stakeholders

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Some stakeholders in  criminal justice administration have identified dearth of personnel in prosecuting agencies, unemployment, obsolete laws and compromise among security agents as factors responsible for the thriving illicit drug business.

The respondents told the News Agency of Nigeria in separate interviews on Monday in Ibadan that cases of illicit drug trade had continued to surface in courts in spite of frequent arrests, prosecutions and convictions by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA)

Mr Ayokunle Morakinyo, an NDLEA counsel, who had served as a prosecutor in many states of the federation, said that the agency lacks adequate human and material resources to execute its work properly.

He said that government had so many responsibilities that it was contending with, adding that this had made it difficult to meet all the needs of the NDLEA.

“Sometimes, we don’t have enough support to do a thorough job.

“When I was in Niger State as an NDLEA prosecutor, many people who were convicted and sentenced to years in prison soon went back into drug dealing after completing their jail terms.

“It is the same story when I got to Kebbi State, and the situation was the same when I was in Oyo State.

“In fact, some defendants who were granted bail also went back into drug trafficking and were arrested and arraigned for fresh offences when they had not been discharged from previous crimes.

“Unfortunately, state governments don’t seem to be interested in drug-related matters because they believe that the NDLEA, which is a Federal Government Agency, is there to handle it.

“There is also a psychological angle to the issue of drug dealing in Nigeria because some of the criminals feel that unless they buy and sell cannabis and the likes, they cannot survive.

“Socially, there is wide-spread unemployment where idle hands engage themselves in dealing in the  illicit trade,” he said.

The NDLEA counsel expressed worry that the situation might worsen if something urgent was not done to curtail the rising cases.

Mrs Oyinkansola Odebunmi, a counsellor and Founder of Oyin Counsel Concept in Ibadan, said drug trafficking was on the rise because the punishment attached to the commission of the crime remained light among other factors.

“This problem has also remained because some influential persons are out there encouraging the criminals.

“Another reason why drug dealing has persisted is that it is the only means of livelihood for some people and there must be a strong alternative before the dealers can stop peddling it,” Odebunmi said.

Also speaking, an Ibadan-based lawyer, Mr Stephen Raji, contended that some security operatives involved in investigating drug dealers sometimes compromise.

“I challenge you to watch court trials involving drug traffickers, you can hardly find big guys like barons being tried.

“The people you will find being made to face prosecution are ordinary smokers and sellers because the real dealers would have bribed their way through,” Raji said.

The legal practitioner called for a department to be established to supervise the day-to-day operation of NDLEA officers so as to forestall any compromise during arrest and investigation of suspects.

He also advocated regular training and retraining of the officers to boost human capacity development and productivity.

(
Edited By: Oluyinka Fadare/Mufutau Ojo (NAN)
)

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Defence/Security

Coronavirus can cause drug abuse – NDLEA Spokesman

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), has said that Coronavirus could cause or trigger the abuse of drugs and illicit substances.

 

Head of Public affairs, NDLEA, Mr Jonah Achema, said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria on Monday in Abuja.

 

Achema said that some people had taken to self medication of Coronavirus by treating themselves in the house without getting to see a doctor.

 

According to him, with the kind of concoctions we have been hearing as therapy for Coronavirus, it gives us an idea and impression of addiction already.

 

“This means that after the pandemic a lot of people are going to get hooked and become addicted to those drugs that affect the central systems.

 

“Well, Coronavirus may appear to be new development but some of the symptoms are within us and are evidentially caused by drug abuse.

 

“Considering that some drugs people take such as caffeine and nicotine impact negatively on the lungs, liver and the kidney.

 

“We know what nicotine does but what is becoming worrisome is that Coronavirus can amplify drug abuse because of the self medications by people,” he said.

 

Achema said that there were people who would want to take preventive measures without following any necessary medical protocol or treatment.

 

He also said that some people after noticing symptoms would start to take measures to avert or cure with no recourse to medical protocols.

 

“And by so doing they take all manner of drugs without following prescription or dosage.

 

“We have heard of bitter kola, we have heard of ginger, lemon and all manner of substances and you know when you combine these things there will be trouble.

 

“Ordinarily or independently they may not be harmful. But the combination, the volume and the quantum can cause more harm than good.

 

“Even ordinary fruit, we may think it is not harmful, but when you take too much it may impact negatively on your health.

 

“Too much of everything they say is bad, ” he said.

 

The NDLEA spokesperson said that the agency had joined hands with other stakeholders in creating awareness, provide security and enforcement of law in fighting the pandemic.

 

He noted that NDLEA functioned within a standing committee in various states in collaboration with other security agencies and stakeholders.

 

“Fighting Coronavirus is not within the mandate of the agency but as responsible agency, within our own staff, we spread the gospel of improve personal hygiene, hand washing and distancing oneself.

 

“We operate within the frame work of responsible organisation, collaboration and spreading the awareness.

 

“And we also try to let people know seeming symbiotic relationship between Coronavirus and drug abuse, ” he said.

 

Achema appealed to the public to follow the rules and guidelines from the NCDC to help fight the scourge bedeviling the country and the entire globe.

 

He urged the people who might have seen the symptoms to visit the testing centres to avoid the spread of the virus, adding that fighting Coronavirus was a collective effort.

 

He reiterated the agency’s commitment at providing more awareness and measures in the fight against drug abuse in the country.


Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Donald Ugwu (NAN)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Foreign

Fijian police use body cams, drones to track down drug cultivators, pushers

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The Fijian police are now using body cameras and drones to track people farming and selling drugs like marijuana on the island nation.

Fiji’s Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho said Thursday that serious crimes and crimes against women and children have decreased in the past few months, however, the fight against drug continues and the Fijian police are stepping up on its raids.

He said that the police officers are now utilizing body cameras during raids as a lot of accusations were being made against officers in the past ordering on brutality.

“Because we have seen over time that the first thing that people who are raided do is to go and lodge a report or run to the media that we were heavy-handed in the way we raided their properties. So we have got body cams now and we have employed drones.”

Qiliho said earlier that the shattering impact of drug consumption in Fiji is his biggest worry as the smuggling of hard drugs continues to evolve every day in the island nation.

Fiji’s Deputy Secretary for Defence and National Security Ilai Moceica said at a Narcotics Workshop in Fiji‘s capital Suva last year that 100 patients were admitted at a local psychiatric hospital from May 2017 to April 2018 due to substance abuse alone.

The most commonly abused substances in Fiji are marijuana, methamphetamine, cigarettes, kava and alcohol, Moceica said.

He urged stakeholders to holistically view this as a national problem and come up with strategic solutions that will not only allow enforcement agencies to curb the illicit use of drugs and eradicating cultivators but also commit Fiji’s resources and time to this worthy cause.

Last year, the Fijian police seized drugs worth over 94 million U.S. dollars in the island nation.

(XINHUA)

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Children have been traumatised by Philippines abusive drugs war, Human Rights Watch says

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Thousands of children in the Philippines have suffered psychological distress, bullying and worsening poverty as a result of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

No fewer than 101 children have also been killed either as bystanders or as main targets of the violent crackdown between July 2016 and December 2018, the New York-based group said in a 48-page report.

Human Rights Watch urged members of the UN Human Rights Council to support an independent international investigation into the drug war killings and the impact of the violence on children, and press the Philippine government to end its illegal drug operations.

“Without action now, an entire generation of Filipino children will be victimized by the violence of Duterte’s anti-drug campaign,’’ Carlos Conde, Philippines researcher at Human Rights Watch, said.

According to Philippine police statistics, over 5,600 suspects have been killed in anti-drug operations since July 1, 2016.

“Estimates by human rights group place the death toll at more than 27,000.

“In many of the raids, children witnessed the killing of a parent, or were present while their parent was dragged away and shot,’’ Human Rights Watch said.

According to the report, due to this, the children suffer psychological distress, some developing aggressive and violent behaviour, while others becoming withdrawn.

“Many have been forced to drop out of school due to bullying and harassment or poverty.

“Many children are left with no choice but to work and some end up homeless and living in the streets, further exposing themselves to danger, violence and criminal activity,’’ the report said.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Foreign

Gaucher’s disease drugs effective against coronavirus: Israeli research

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Israeli researchers have found that derivatives of two Gaucher’s disease drugs are effective against coronavirus, the defense ministry said Tuesday.

Gaucher’s disease is caused by a deficiency of an enzyme that breaks down lipids in the cells, leading to impairment of body function, limb enlargement and bone pain.

In a study conducted by Israel’s Institute of Biological Research (IIBR) and published in bioRxiv preprint platform, the researchers examined the existing drug Cerdelga, as well as another drug that is currently in advanced stages of approval.

According to the ministry, the derivatives of both drugs significantly reduce the replication capacity of coronavirus, as replication causes the destruction and mortality of the infected human cell.

This decrease in the replication capacity prevents cell damage after infection.

The experiments were conducted in cell cultures and are currently being tested for efficacy on animals.

Both drugs were previously found effective on animals against other virus strains such as influenza and West Nile viruses, indicating that they may also be effective against future outbreaks of new viruses.

IIBR, a governmental institute founded in 1952, deals with applied research in the fields of biology, microbiology, medical chemistry, natural sciences and environmental sciences.

(XINHUA)

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Drug abuse causes mental health problems, expert warns youths

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Dr Oyedun Rotimi, a consultant psychiatrist at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Gombe, has warned youths against abusing drugs and substances, to forestall mental health problems.

Rotimi gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Gombe.

According to him, it is imperative to make youths understand the mental health implications of their action in abusing drugs.

He stated that the chronic use of drugs by youths could lead to short and long term changes in the brain, which could lead to mental health issues like memory loss, depression, anxiety and hallucination.

Rotimi said many youths did not know the adverse effects of prolonged drug abuse on their mental health.

“Many of the young people, especially women with mental illness, have the possibility of using cannabis.

“Because an inherited mental illness requires other factors to push it out, you may never have mental illness in life; but if you smoke cannabis, you find out that many of them develop mental illness,” he said.

According to him, many persons who are addicted to drug and substance over a long period of time are often diagnosed of mental disorder.

The medical practitioner said drugs like marijuana and cocaine could have negative effects on memory and learning.

Rotimi noted that many Nigerians never knew that alcohol was also considered as drugs and the prolonged in-take of it could lead to mental health problems like memory loss, damages to the brain and vision.

He stated that in spite of the recent lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, people still had access to drugs.

While calling for punitive government measures to limit access to illicit drugs, Rotimi advised parents to take responsibility for the upbringing of their children for the good of the society.

He urged relevant stakeholders to intensify campaigns on the negative impact of drugs and substance abuse on the mental health of people and their overall health.

Rotimi advised youths to desist from drug use and abuse in the interest of their mental health.

The medical doctor urged them to seek help for treatments from relevant government agencies and non-governmental organisations.

Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/Salif Atojoko (NAN)

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Foreign

Indonesian police arrest 2 foreigners in drug bust in Banten province

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Indonesian authorities have arrested a Pakistani and a Yemeni in a drug bust in the province of Banten.

At a press conference in Banten’s city of Serang on Saturday, the National Police’s criminal investigation department chief, Listyo Sigit Prabowo, said that the police arrested the suspects on Friday evening when the suspects were trying to move about 820 kg of methamphetamine to boxes.

The contraband smuggled from Iran was hidden at a house in a residential area in Serang, Prabowo said, adding that the bandits pretended to be spice traders.

He said the investigation into the case has been underway since last December.

Prabowo said the police received information about groups of drug traffickers who were set to make some transactions on Friday.

“Last night, the two targets were moving the methamphetamine to boxes they had prepared. The team raided them,” Prabowo was quoted by Indonesian news website Detik.com as saying.

The suspects may face death penalty in Indonesia if they are proven guilty.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Brazilian police make record drug seizure

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Brazilian police have confiscated a record 28 tons of marijuana discovered inside a truck near the border with neighboring Paraguay, the Federal Police force said on Thursday.

The largest ever drug bust in Brazil took place on Wednesday, in an area between the towns of Tacuru and Iguatemi, in south Mato Grosso do Sul state.

Authorities uncovered the cache of drugs after a routine inspection of a hotel in the border city of Ponta Pora, where a guest behaved suspiciously when questioned by police officers.

Upon interrogation, the man, 38, said he was a truck driver and revealed information leading to the location of the vehicle.

Federal Highway Police located the truck and a search showed it was carrying some corn and multiple tons of drugs packed in small packages.

Cargo documents indicated the truck was supposed to be hauling 40 tons of corn, but barely had 6 tons.

According to the truck driver, the shipment of drugs was to be delivered to Sao Leopoldo, a town in southern Rio Grande do Sul state, which borders on Argentina and Uruguay.

(XINHUA)

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