The FG Is Proposing A N2 Million Fine And Two-Year Jail Term For Codeine Abuse

Yesterday, an amendment bill that proposes a N2 million fine and two-year jail term for abuse of tramadol and codeine passed a second reading at the Nigerian House of Representatives.

During the debate, Hon. Apiafi said:

“In Nigeria, between January and December 2015, one thousand and forty-four (1044) patients were admitted for treatment in the 11 treatment centers currently part of the Nigeria Epidemiological Network of Drug Use ( NENDU) reporting system.”

She went on to state that since 2015, codeine has nearly overtaken tramadol as the most abused opiate in Nigeria:

“Thousands of young people in Nigeria are addicted to codeine cough syrup – a medicine that has become a street drug.

Three million bottles are drunk everyday in Nigeria’s North alone, according to a recent Nigerian government report.”

Yes, but isn’t that indicative of a larger, deeper problem? Are we not going to ask why they’re turning to drugs? Should we not be falling over ourselves to build rehab centres?

Addiction is defined as a complex disease of the brain and body that involves the compulsive use of one or more substances, despite serious health and social consequences. Addiction is a disease, not a crime. Criminalizing addiction will not make the problem go away.

The new bill stipulates penalties for individuals up to the tune of N2 million or a prison term of two years or both; and in the case of a corporate body, all the directors, managers, partners, trustees would be guilty of an offence and would be punished as if they committed the offence themselves.

You see, a bottle of cough syrup with codeine costs about N1000 – N2500, and a satchet of tramadol is about N100. If addicts had N2 million to spare – or just had it – neither of those would be their drug of choice. The FG needs to stop bandaging issues up instead of attacking the root causes.

A ban won’t solve it. Criminalization will definitely not solve it. But rehabilitation is certainly a start.

Source: Konbini


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