The war on codeine, Tramadol and other hard drugs is reaching another height and this could just help ensure that young Nigerians are no longer put in chains by these substances.
The government is looking at using laws to address the issue and the lower chamber is already considering a bill that stipulates jail term and fine as punishment for offenders.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday, proposed a two million Naira fine and a two-year jail term for corporate offenders of the ban on Tramadol and Codeine.
Individual offenders, according to the proposal, will be liable to 500,000 Naira fine and two years imprisonment or both on conviction.
The bill also stipulates that in the case of a corporate body, all the directors, managers, partners and trustees would be guilty of an offence and would be punished as if they had committed the offence themselves.
The bill, sponsored by Representative Betty Apiafi, seeks to amend the Food, Drugs and Related Products (Registration) Act Cap. F33 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
It will review the penalties and confer jurisdiction on High Court of the State to try offences under the Act.
Leading debate on the bill, Apiafi said: “In Nigeria, between January and December, 2015, 1,044 patients were admitted for treatment in the 11 treatment centres currently part of the Nigeria Epidemiological Network of Drug Use (NENDU) reporting system.
“And, 28.3% of the patients had an opiate addiction and the opiates were mainly prescription Medicines: Tramadol (71 per cent as 1st most frequently used substance and specified).
“Codeine (15.1%) and Pentazocine (9.9%), Heroine and Morphine represented only 3.3% of the opiates declared”.
She added that since 2015, Codeine had 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 drank everyday in Nigeria’s North alone, according to a recent Nigerian government report,” she added.