The National Orientation Agency (NOA) says drug abuse, especially by youths is responsible for the increase in crime rate in the country.

Mrs Ifyinwa Ugwu, director of the NOA in Enugu State, made the declaration in Nsukka, Enugu State on Saturday.

She represented the Director-General, Mr Garba Abari, at a sensitisation meeting organised by the agency for auto mechanics.

She particularly blamed drug abuse for the rise in violence, kidnapping, rape, banditry, and other violent crimes in the country.

“Records available show alarming rate of drug abuse by the general public, especially youths; this has become a source of worry not only to government but to Nigerians.

“Surveys and experience have shown that consumption of illicit drugs is associated with virtually all anti-social behaviours and crimes.

“Consumption of illicit drugs like cocaine, Indian hemp, heroin, tramadol, codeine, methamphetamine or crystal meth, popularly called “mkpuru mmiri’’ (Soluble crystals) armed robbery, rape, banditry, kidnapping, thuggery, and other violent crimes,’’ she said.

She added that the meeting sought to educate the general public about the dangers of drug abuse.

“If Nigerians shun illicit drugs, crimes will be minimised and the country will be a better place for everybody,’’ Ugwu said.

She advised parents, religious and traditional rulers, and teachers to play increased roles to win the war against drug abuse and the security challenges facing the country.

“Parents, traditional rulers, religious leaders, and teachers should always remind youths of the adverse effect of drug abuse.

“NOA will continue to sensitise Nigerians on the need to shun vices and to uphold the country’s value system,’’ she added.

In his remarks, Mr Tommy Akpan, Assistant Commander, Narcotics, at the Nsukka office of the NDLEA advised Nigerians to shun hard drugs as their consumption could lead to untimely death or deleterious health consequences.

“To stay alive and be a responsible person, we must avoid illicit drugs like cocaine, Indian hemp, heroin, tramadol, codeine, and crystal meth.

“If you know anybody taking any of these drugs, stop going close to them so as not to be lured into drug abuse.

“Many youths have destroyed their lives by using hard drugs,’’ he stressed.

In his comments, Mr Chukwudi Omeje, Chairman of Nsukka Mechanic Industrial Site, commended NOA for the sensitisation which he said had made members to appreciate the many dangers of drug abuse.

Omeje said he would continue to use various meetings of the Nsukka mechanics to spread the message of the adverse effects of drug abuse.

“I am happy about this sensitisation organised by the NOA to educate us on the dangers of drug abuse.

“We shall do our best to continue to preach this message in all our meetings and at other events,’’ he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was well attended by mechanics and the general public.