The Joint Task Force (JTF) deployed to protect oil installations in the Niger Delta, ‘Operation Delta Safe’, on Monday, urged personnel of various services under its command to steer clear of hard drugs.
The JTF Commander, Rear Admr. Akinjide Akinrinade, gave the charge in his opening remarks at a seminar organised on the dangers of drugs abuse amongst personnel of security agencies, at the JTF headquarters in Yenagoa.
He said that the military would not condone any act of drug abuse among its officers and men, saying it was a ‘court marshal offence’, with stiff penalties under the military statues.
Akinrinade said that drug abuse had become a global menace, with adverse consequences on the mental and physical health of the populace.
According to him, it also has security consequences as most criminals find solace in substance abuse to gain courage to perpetrate their acts.
“Thus, nations of the world are painstakingly looking for solutions to this endless problem.
“Attempts to understand the nature of illicit drug abuse and addiction can be traced back to centuries; however, the search has been limited by the scientific theories available at any point.
“Today, much has been done globally to curtail substance abuse. However, these have not yielded the desired results in Nigeria and other developing nations as the act has been on the increase in recent times.
“Early this year, President Muhammadu Buhari decried the rising problem of drug abuse and its associated consequences, particularly as it affects national security and immediately inaugurated a presidential committee on drug abuse to find lasting solution to the menace,” he said.
The JTF commander noted that following the presidential directive, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin initiated a plan to discourage military personnel from substance abuse to ensure that they were in good health and sound mind to discharge their constitutional responsibilities.
Speaking on the topic “Drug Abuse amongst Military/Paramilitary: Implications on Health and Professional Responsibility”, Dr Chia Francis, a Psychologist, noted that the demands of military deployment often led to drug abuse temptation.
Francis, an official of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), said that inability to sleep, need for alertness and combat readiness usually exposed military personnel to use of drugs.
According to him, drug abuse as intake of substances that alter the chemical and psychological functions of the body outside medical prescription and supervision.
He said that drug addiction usually began from experimentation to occasional use, regular use, dependence and end with addiction, adding that testing services were available to detect drug use while victims could be rehabilitated to live a normal life.