• Districts, places where barons, consumers hold sway
By FRED ITUA and OKWE OBI
Are you new in Abuja? Have you been to gardens and recreation centres? Have you patronised the popular ‘aboki’ kiosk? Have you been accosted by phoney-looking guys in parking lots of big shopping malls or filling stations? Do you sometimes wonder the type of trade they ply?
Look no further. The next time you are accosted, look the other way, unless you want to patronise illegal drug dealers, who have technically taken control of popular gardens, filling stations, parking lots of shopping malls and now kiosks.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Nigeria is a transit point for heroine and cocaine intended for European, East Asian and North American markets. Since 2004, drug traffickers have been increasingly using West African countries, including Nigeria, for smuggling large amounts of cocaine from South America into Europe and North America.
Nigeria, according to UNODC, has a relatively high rate of drug abuse due to the continued availability of illicitly manufactured and diverted pharmaceutical products containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. The most abused drug in Nigeria, according to the global agency, is cannabis, mainly in its herbal form.
Abuja, being the seat of power, naturally attracts all kinds of things, including sale and consumption of illegal drugs. Wrongly or rightly, folks hold the view that since Nigeria’s top political echelons reside in Abuja, there must be a ready market to supply their illicit drug needs.
Daily Sun went on an investigative voyage to unravel districts and other isolated places where these hard and illicit drugs are sold.
According to findings, many kiosks in Abuja sell illicit drugs such as cocaine, tramadol, ketamine, marijuana, etc. The owners of shops disguise as if they sell normal household items, but beneath it is a warehouse of illicit drugs.
Around Banex junction, the business is booming. Even the presence of police vans there do not deter patronage. When you see an expensive car pull over at the junction, a seller emerges and enters the car, then transaction will take place.
Some sellers disguise as recharge card sellers, while others feign touting passengers for drivers. The drama is so confusing that one who is not in the business could hardly fathom what is playing out.
A major park in Wuse II is one relaxation centre that is sort after. Out of ten cars that entre the spot, ten are tinted. People throng in even on week days to relax. It is a large spot that almost all the goodies of life are sold there. During the day, commercial sex workers are groomed and advised on how to operate. Their spot is after the first joint were a boldly written inscription is engraved on the wall that reads “POS available here.”
Serious renovation is taken place there. If you sauntered further inside a popular restaurant there, as food is served, demands are made on drugs secretly. There, a rap of marijuana is sold at N500.
Mind you, not everybody has the chance to see the drugs. Before you get, especially when you are not a regular customer, you will be surveyed properly and if the sellers are not convinced, you will be bounced. It is a coded business that is thriving at Citi Park. When the sellers get information that security operative would storm the area, they use girls to execute the business.
Another area where the business is gaining momentum is Utako Park. Sellers spread all over the place. The place might look dirty with other businesses booming, but it is a fertile ground for drugs. There, because of it porous nature, people smoke away their lungs and drink to stupor openly.
It was reliably gathered that as dirty as the park looks, millions of naira are made due to the sale of the drugs.
“You should not look at the place as a mere park or the people there as mere lay about. They are richer than some workers due to the flourishing of the business. They don’t sell the drugs to anybody they see. There is a cartel. Until you are recommended or properly searched you won’t see the seller,” a business operator in the park told our correspondent who visited the place.
According to several medical researches conducted in the last ten years, consumption of illicit drugs weaken immune system and increases susceptibility to infections. It also causes cardiovascular conditions, ranging from abnormal heart rate to heart attacks. Similarly, it causes nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Consumption causes the liver to have to work harder, possibly causing significant damage or liver failure. It causes seizures, stroke and widespread brain damage that can impact all aspects of daily life by causing problems with memory, attention and decision-making, including sustained mental confusion and permanent brain damage.
It also produces global body changes such as breast development in men, dramatic fluctuations in appetite and increase in body temperature, which may impact a variety of health conditions.
Despite the foregoing, many Abuja residents still damn the effects. John (not real name) said: “I don’t take this drug (marijuana) because I like it. Just that it helps me to sleep and forget about my problem for the moment. I have tried to stop it, but it is very difficult. I hope and pray that someday it would be a thing of the past.”