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Obasanjo fears for democracy, seeks strong drug laws in Central, West Africa

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has canvassed strong drug laws in Central and West Africa owing to the effects of hard substances on both regions.

Obasanjo, who is also chair of the West Africa Commission on Drugs (WACD) and member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, said if the counsel is unheeded, drug cartels could undermine democracy and the rule of law in “our countries.”

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He spoke during a virtual town hall meeting co-hosted by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, WACD, and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

“It is the poor and vulnerable who suffer the most from harsh drug laws. The rich have the means to defend themselves,” he said.

Obasanjo added that harsh laws were needed to deter drug abuse.”

In addition, the ex-leader called for the adoption of the WACD Model Drug Law by member states, noting that it balances the use of drugs between criminal justice and health by recommending soft punishments. Hence, he called on Members of Parliaments (MPs) to adopt a more progressive discussion on drug use in their countries.

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Speaker of Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) Parliament, Sidie Mohamed Tunis, said West African states lack requisite laws and legal framework to adequately address issues of drug trafficking in the region.

He made the observation while delivering his keynote address.

The meeting, which was themed, “The pivotal role of parliamentarians in drug control”, was organised to explore parliamentary perspectives on how to address drug control policy in Africa.

Tunis pointed out that the concentration of most laws and legal frameworks in the region had been on punishing drug abusers, who themselves, are one way or the other, victims.

His words: “There were several youths that had already been convicted and serving jail terms for possessing drugs, mostly cannabis. In most countries in West Africa, the narcotic laws are outdated and are punitively directed at victims of abuse rather than the organised drug marketers and traffickers.”

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