The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has shed light on the proposed “drug integrity test” for intending couples.
The Head of Public Affairs, NDLEA, Mr Jonah Achema, said in a statement in Abuja on Saturday that what the agency proposed was totally different from what was reported in the media.
Achema said that the clarification became necessary following the report circulating in the media that the NDLEA intended to carry out drug integrity test on ladies before marriage.
A report by an online publication indicated that the NDLEA would conduct drug integrity test on ladies prior to their marriage.
Achema said that the attention of the NDLEA had been drawn to the barrage of reactions to the report by the online publication.
“The report wrongly credited the Chairman, NDLEA, retired Col. Muhammad Abdallah, as proposing drug integrity test for intending couples by religious organisations.
“The mischievous headline of the report is `NDLEA is to test ladies for drugs before marriage’, whereas in the body of the report, there was no place where the NDLEA chairman was quoted as saying so.
“For the avoidance of doubt, what the chairman said was that as an extension of drug integrity test policy in public service, NDLEA is also considering partnering with the religious leaders.
“This consideration is to make drug integrity test a prerequisite for marriage in churches and mosques, as in the case of HIV/AIDs and genotype tests.
“It, therefore, smacks of cheap chauvinism for one to manipulate a statement meant for intending couples to mean ladies, as if ladies are a generic term for the marriage institution or intending couples,’’ he said.
Achema said that the propriety of targeting the family in effective drug control programmes was not debatable, adding that drug problems had mostly complicated the family institution, leading to broken homes and poor parenting.
He said that it was the dutiful thinking of NDLEA to involve religious organisations to persuasively engage intending couples to ascertain their drug use status.
He said that the measure was considered pragmatic because of the need to seek help, where necessary, before going into marriage, adding that it also aimed at promoting public health within the context of agency’s drug preventive strategy.
“Making it a women’s affair is, however, trivialising the issue and trying to promote gender discrimination, which is far from the intention of the gender-friendly NDLEA,” he added.