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ECOWAS launches report to tackle illicit drug use, trafficking in sub-region

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By Gistflash News

Sept 14, 2021

The Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) on Tuesday launched its 2018-2019 West Africa Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (WENDU) Report aimed at effectively tackling illicit drug use and trafficking in the sub-region.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the report, launched virtually by the ECOWAS Commission in conjunction with other stakeholders will serve as a guide to member states on how to effectively tackle illicit drug use and trafficking.

The report contains statistics and trends of illicit drug supply and drug use in the sub-region and will help member states in developing programmes, policies, and advocacy.

These programmes, policies, and advocacy will in turn help address the social, health, and economic consequences of substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking in the sub-region.

Dr Siga Jagne, Commissioner, Social Affairs and Gender, ECOWAS Commission, said with the WENDU project, West Africa could boast of valid and reliable source of drug-related data to inform evidence-based anti-drug measures.

“The report highlights the latest estimates and trends on drug abuse and illicit drug supply, as well as trafficking in substandard, spurious, falsified and counterfeit medicinal products in West Africa.

“The WENDU report will greatly assist in programming and identification of drug use patterns and emerging trends.

“I am glad that as the availability of data on drug use and aggregate drug supply in West Africa is rapidly improving, our individual and collective drug prevention and control activities will be scientifically driven for maximum impact.

“Moving forward, today’s 2018-2019 WENDU report launch will pave the way for the validation of the 2020 report which has already been collected by our WENDU focal points.

“This means that very soon, we shall call upon the experts to review and validate the 2020 report for its subsequent launch and publication.

“All these efforts are geared towards ensuring that the reports are timely and reliable.

“Reliable, up-to-date data are vital for policy and evidence-based programming without which our activities may not be effective as they should be.

“It is in this light that I urge you to make use of the WENDU report and disseminate them as widely as possible,” Jagne said

Mr Stanley Okolo, Director-General, West African Health Organisation (WAHO) expressed dismay at the public health and socio-economic consequences of illicit drug use in the sub-region, saying it led to increased drug dependence, metal health issues, violence, and suicide.

Okolo added that the drug habits “feeds-off the high rates of trafficking of illicit drugs and trafficking of fake and falsified medicinal products estimated at 20 to 40 per cent in the sub-region.”

He noted that the demand base for such trafficking had resulted in a vicious circle needing to be broken as a matter of urgency.

“WAHO has undertaken some initiatives in this regard including a “Regional Action Plan on Counterfeit Medicines 2011–2016” adopted by the ECOWAS Assembly of Health Ministers in 2010, the development of assessment tools for a situational analysis of the status of counterfeit medicines in the sub-region in 2016, and a draft legal and legislative framework for dealing with Counterfeit and Illicit Trade in Medicines in 2018.

“We are currently using the tools to conduct a post-market surveillance study of three medicinal products in all 15 ECOWAS member states plus Mauritania and Chad.

“WAHO also engaged the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) to conduct a survey of substandard and falsified Medicines in nine ECOWAS Countries (Niger, Togo, Guinea, Benin, Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, and Burkina Faso).

“Looking at the supply chain management, mapping the entry point of illicit drugs and falsified medicines, and trailing their distribution destinations, the survey reviewed the legislative framework for expired medicines, how offenders are sanctioned, and which policies and measures exist for checking the influx of the falsified medicines.

“It is particularly gratifying that the recommendations for a multi-sectoral approach to tackling this problem neatly align with those in the WENDU report being launched today”, Okolo said.

Launching the report, Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd.), Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said the Nigerian government would not relent in its fight against illicit drug use and trafficking.

Marwa added that the Nigeria would do a lot to sanitise the system and the sub-region “which unfortunately is the transit hub for illicit drugs from South America to Europe”.

He pledged Nigeria’s commitment to working with the 2018-2019 WENDU Report to effectively tackle illicit drug use and trafficking in the sub-region.

NAN

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Northern Youths inaugurate Yahaya Bello Presidential Network

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By Gistflash News

Sept 22, 2021

Youths from Nigeria’s 19 northern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have inaugurated a political pressure group that will work for the realisation of the presidential ambition of Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi.

Known as the Yahaya Bello Network (YBN), the group said it would be supporting the governor to emerge the nation’s next president in 2023.

The YBN said Nigerian youths wanted one of them as the nation’s next leader.

At the inauguration on Wednesday in Kaduna, YBN spokesman, Bello Mohammed, said gone were the days when Nigerians talked of politics of region and ethnicity.

“We are supporting Gov. Bello not only because he is our own from the north, but because he is young, vibrant and energetic and has what it takes to lead Nigeria to the promised land.

“There are agitations everywhere, but it is not constitutional as politics is a game of number and Yahaya Bello is a man of quality.

“Nigeria’s presidency is something that has to do with quality and has nothing to do with your religion or background,“ Mohammed said.

The inauguration of the YBN comes barely 72 hours after the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) declared that the region would retain power beyond 2023 as it has the voter population to win the presidential election in 2023.

Inaugurating the executives and ambassadors of YBN, Mohammed described the call by the southern governors for power to return to the South as unconstitutional and uncalled for, insisting that politics is a game of numbers.

He said the leadership of his group would embark on a tour of the 19 northern states to canvass support for the candidature of Bello as Nigeria’s next president.

The Special Adviser on Youth and Student Affairs to the Governor, Ahmed Jibril, said it was a good development that Nigerian youths were now coming on board to identify with a youth like them and seek his election to the exalted position of Nigerian President.

“It is only a plus for us as youths to be calling on Gov. Bello to come and be the number one citizen of Nigeria,” he said.

On the agitation for power shift to the South, Jibril said it was part of democracy.

“Everybody has the right to call for what he wants and it is his opinion.

“If people have seen the youth in Gov. Bello, if they have seen a leader and a unifier of the country in him, then he shall be the President by the grace of God because man proposes but God has the final say,’’ Jibril said.

YBN Secretary-General Salisu Mohammed inaugurated the executives and ambassadors of the group, including notable Kannywood actors and actresses.

He called on them to go and spread the message to others in their respective states.

NAN

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INEC begins nationwide display of voters register Sept 24, says Ebonyi REC

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By Gistflash News

Sept 22, 2021

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will commence the first quarter display of Voter Register (VR) across the country on Sept. 24.

Dr Joseph Chukwu, the Ebonyi INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), who stated this at a news conference in Abakaliki, on Wednesday, added that the display will run from Sept. 24 and end on Sept.30.

He urged those that took part in the registration exercise to use the opportunity to cross-check their biodata and any other relevant information and make corrections, where necessary.

Chukwu noted that the exercise was sequel to the end of the first quarter of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) that began in June.

The REC, who commended eligible voters for participating in the civic exercise appealed to the citizenry to continue supporting INEC’s activities that would lead to credible elections in 2023.

“Following the completion of the online and physical registrations, which began on June 28 and closed by 11.59p.m on Sept. 21.

“The display of voters’ register for claims and objections will hold effective from Sept. 24 to Sept. 30 for the first quarter.

“The exercise will take place in all the 13 local government offices of the commission, including the two centres at the state headquarters.

“The register will also be on display simultaneously across the 774 local government areas and the Federal Capital Territory, as well as other designated centres.

“All registrants are, therefore, advised to visit centres where they registered or made corrections to check for the correctness of their particulars”, Chukwu said.

He explained that the second quarter of the CVR exercise would begin on Oct. 4 nationwide and end on Dec. 20, while third phase of the exercise would start by Jan. 3, 2022 and close on March 4.

The fourth quarter would begin by April 11, 2022 to end on June 30, 2022.

“Let me on behalf of the Chairman of our commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, express our gratitude to all critical stakeholders for their cooperation before, during and after the first quarter of the exercise in Ebonyi.

“Except occasional disruptions by rain, we did not encounter any security breach during the entire exercise throughout the state,” Chukwu said.

NAN

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Ganduje condoles with Gaya Emirate over Emir’s death

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By Gistflash News

Sept 22, 2021

Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has said that he received with sadness and deep feeling, the news of the passing away of the Emir of Gaya, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdulkadir.
Abdukkadir died on Wednesday at the age of 91 and left behind three wives, 28 children and many grandchildren.
The Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, stated this in a statement he issued to newsmen on Wednesday in Kano.
“Despite his ailing condition, the monarch’s uncommon leadership qualities earned him respect as traditional ruler since his days as Sarkin Gaya and until his death as First Class Emir in Kano.
“The death of the Emir in one of the oldest Emirates in Northern Nigeria, has created a vacuum difficult to be filled considering his contributions to peace, stability and progress of his domain and the country,” he said.
The commissioner revealed that Abdukkadir was one of the four Emirs elevated to First Class Emirs by the Gov. Ganduje administration after the creation of Rano, Gaya, Bichi and Karaye Emirates in 2019.
“Gov. Ganduje, who is away in Abuja when the Emir’s death was announced said the demise of the monarch is a big loss to his immediate family, Gaya Emirate, the government and the entire people of Kano state,” he said.
He, therefore, prayed to Allah in His infinite mercy to forgive his sins and grant him Aljannah Firdausi.
Garba also quoted the governor as calling on the people of the emirate to bear the loss with the spirit of acquiescence to God’s will.
The governor also urged them to take solace in the fact that endurance was not the measure of a good life but the sense of fulfilment.
NAN
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