Drug abuse is affecting peace in Jos North, says NGO boss, Sani Suleiman
Senior Programme Officer of a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Search for Common Ground, based in Jos, Alhaji Sani Suleman, has said that the abuse of drugs and other substance is negatively affecting the social life of the youth, which has a devastating effect on the fragile peace that is being enjoyed in Jos North Council of the state.
Suleman frowned at the dangerous various group rivalries among the youths, which are impacting negatively on the community, pointing out that if not nipped in the bud and is allowed to continue, Muslims and Christians will not enjoy their Sallah and Christmas as they hitherto used to do.
He spoke at a one day community town hall meeting for residents of Jos North titled Plateau Will Arise (PWA) Phase II, which came under the auspices of Community Peace Partnership (CPP) and Security Architecture Dialogue (CSAD).
According to him, “the aspect that concerns me most is that, if we allow this dangerous trend to continue, as we approach Sallah celebration and after Sallah, we will be approaching Christmas, then it will be an ingredient that can cause us not to enjoy these festivities as we have wanted to enjoy them.”
Suleman said, “building peace and ensuring that it is sustained is like the work of a gardener. If you just till the ground and you put the plant and you just go back to your room and sleep, you do not ensure that the grass is removed, you do not ensure that where fertiliser is needed, you put fertiliser, where water is required, you put some water, where you have to watch so that some animals or people do not come and destroy it, then your yield, your crops, your garden will not be good because either they will not grow because there is no enough water or they will die because there is no fertilizer or you left them unattended to and animals or somebody went there and destroyed them.
“So, that is how peace is. We have to work tirelessly just as the gardener will work to ensure that the garden is safe, it blossoms and it productive. And the way we do it is that some one must bring the water, someone must bring the fertilizer, someone must bring the cutlass to remove the grass and someone must stay there to watch over the plants and at the end of the day, we have a good harvest.
That is how peace is maintained in every community around the world.“And to do that, certainly the security personnel cannot do it alone. Our traditional leaders, community leaders, ward leaders cannot do it alone, our youth whether in the name of community partnership cannot do it alone. So, we have to work together.”
He unreservedly condemned mob action and youth gangsterism in Jos North as they are affecting the community and portraying it in a bad light, urging leaders to put their heads together for peaceful co – existence and ensure that the youth become responsible citizens in the future and reduce threats to peace and security.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), National Orientation Agency (NOA), Special Task Force Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), the Police, Civil Defence, Directorate of State Security (DSS), Traditional and Community Leaders, Religious Leaders were all in attendance.
The Exhibit Officer of NDLEA, Daniel Etu, argued that if the issue of drug abuse is tackled head on, more than half of Nigeria’s problems would have been solved, adding that no arm of the security can do it alone but through collaboration, everything will drastically reduce.
He stressed that the drug peddlers are living within the community but are being shielded by people who refuse to volunteer credible information about them that can lead to their arrest.
“In as much as they keep the identity of the informant secret, refusal to report to the NDLEA will one day affect those who have information about druggists and fail to report them as they will one day be victims of their inaction,” he stated.
Etu debunked the allegation that NDLEA is aiding criminality especially when a suspected drug addict was arrested only to be seen on the street walking as a free person, saying that when they arrest suspects, they carry out preliminary investigation which turns out to be insignificant, adding that they are released after counselling in their own way.
On her part, the NOA Assistant Director and Treasurer in Jos North, Mrs. Rachael Hoga, condemned the spate of lawlessness in the community, pointing out that the residents do not obey the law. “The people don’t obey and respect the law. When there is no respect for the law, then there will be anarchy.
“One community should be free to go to another community. A woman should have freedom to go to bush markets for business. But unfortunately, what we hear are cases of maltreatment and rape.”
Hoga urged the community leaders to stand up and talk to the youth, tasking the police, the judiciary, OPSH, NDLEA to rise to the occasion to curb the menace of drug abuse in society. She posited that every community should take a stand by trying to arrest the culprits themselves instead of reporting them to the police or other security agencies.
The representative of OPSH, Yohana Clever, lamented that despite their efforts and counselling, drug addiction keeps rising in the community. He said there is a new ideology called Sarazuka among the youth in Jos North that is very deadly which has claimed lives in Jos North and beyond.
He bemoaned lack of social rehabilitation centres in Nigeria which he said are common in the advanced countries of the world, adding that there was no day that passed that OPSH would not be called upon to go and remove a dead human body in Jos North.
Clever advised the elders to have a direct interface with the youth so that they can be counselled, saying that the security personnel are there to address serious security issues. He reasoned that it is the responsibility of the parents to know the friends their children move with.
The representative of DSS, Mohammed Kabiru, DSP Ahmed Isa Mansur, DSP Maxwell Adamu, Paul Azi, Alhaji Shehu Suleman all contributed to the discussion arguing that police should not release any youth arrested for drug abuse but should be punished for their sins so that they can change.
They said that the blame should be heaped on the parents who do not talk to their children, adding that they do not care about them. They all argued that children are their representatives on earth who should be well moulded in character.
DSP Mansur disclosed that they always arrested the police, soldiers and other law enforcement agencies during some of their raids on the hide – outs of criminals.Mansur believed that crisis will be over, the day the restive youth bring out their hidden weapons, gather them and smash them. “You are keeping the Quran and the Bible side by side with dangerous weapons. Are you worshipping two Gods? No. Muslims and Christians should live together harmoniously and condemn that act.”