Stakeholders in Abuja have decried torture and ill-treatment against people who abuse drugs in religious and government-owned rehabilitation centres across Nigeria.
The stakeholders, drawn from non-governmental organisations and public agencies, disclosed this at the presentation of the briefing paper on torture and ill-treatment against people abusing drugs in Nigeria.
The event, held on Monday, was organised by African Law Foundation (AFRILAW) in collaboration with International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
AFRILAW chief executive officer Okereke Chinwike decried the levels of torture meted out to people abusing drugs.
“From the information available, physical and other forms of torture are perpetrated by state law enforcement agencies include beating, starvation, prolonged solitary confinement, humiliation, and rape,” he said.
He also disclosed that were reported cases of “torture of people who use drugs in closed settings that offer drug rehabilitation services, with a worrying trend reported in both religious centres and certain state-run facilities.”
Mr Chinwike expressed concern that most survivors could not report cases of torture, while a formal investigation did not follow many allegations.
African representative of IDPC Maria-Goretti Logo noted that it was a fact that the criminalisation of drug use was a significant driver of policing and incarceration across the world.
She noted that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated that the number of people who use drugs in Africa would rise by 40 per cent in 2030.
NHRC executive secretary Tony Ojukwu said social conditions such as lack of access to adequate healthcare, education, and homelessness contributed to drug abuse.
National Drug Law Enforcement Agency’s director-general Buba Marwa said drug users were recognised as victims of drug cartels.
“NDLEA is working in collaboration with UNODC on guidelines on the consent of drug users. This is because the agency does not force individuals to rehabilitation, as they have to appreciate that they have a problem and are ready to be helped,” he said.