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Ethical and legal issues in the control of drug abuse and drug trafficking: The Nigerian case


  • Obot, Isidore S.


This paper presents a general review of drug law and policy in Nigeria beginning with the international attempts to control the traffic in liquor during the pre-colonial and colonial periods. The paper assesses the impact of penal policy on trafficking and use of illicit drugs at different stages in the transformation of Nigeria from a colonial outpost to an independent nation. One persistent feature of drug control mechanisms in Nigeria has been the emphasis on the reduction of supply with the imposition of harsh though inconsistent punishment including, at one time, the death penalty for trafficking. Consequently, initiatives aimed at demand reduction through education, treatment and rehabilitation have been neglected. One reason for this is that, to a great extent, drug control strategy in modern Nigeria has been a response to international demands; another is that they were formulated under military regimes with an overriding concern for law and order. Other features of the Nigerian drug problem are presented and the need for the reform of current laws is stressed. It is argued that an enduring solution lies in the implementation of a comprehensive but clearly defined policy aimed both at the control of supply and reduction of demand. While the state has the duty and the right to protect its citizens from drug-related harm, it is an ethical imperative to institute control measures which do no harm to the citizens they are meant to protect.

Suggested Citation

  • Obot, Isidore S., 1992. "Ethical and legal issues in the control of drug abuse and drug trafficking: The Nigerian case," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 481-493, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:35:y:1992:i:4:p:481-493

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