By Chioma Okezie-Okeh
“Rakan ko gba kan lofe. Buy one, get one free. Na bonanza, I dey do oo,” a middle-aged man who was identified as Segun shouted as he displayed on a small blue tray an unidentified stuff wrapped in a paper.
Segun, as he is popularly called, was not advertising any approved product. He was actually marketing wraps of Marijuana along the road at Idasho area in Ibeju Lekki area of Lagos State.
Idasho is one of the small communities located at the Lekki Free Zone in the state. Lekki Free Zone, situated along the Ibeju Lekki stretch, was created in 2006, as a modern free zone managed in accordance with international best practices. Some of the companies already established along that zone include Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Industry and Dangote Fertilizer which are the highest employers of labour in the axis. There is also the cargo port and Lekki Deep Sea port and others still springing up.
Spotted along that axis were different security personnel ranging from police, army, Civil Defence, private securities and others who were employed by Dangote Refineries and others to secure the facilities. All situated close to Idasho community is Lekki Free Zone police station,
They were randomly spotted by Saturday Sun entering into that zone in search of food, drinks or to relax after the day’s job. Majority were seen holding unto their rifles. From the highway and several metres into the Idasho community were shanties used as make shift restaurants, as well as short-stay accommodations for stranded workers and sex workers.
According to an army officer who spoke with Saturday Sun on the glaring act of impunity in the area, “this is Lekki Free Zone, so anything is allowed in this area. This is a huge market and the workers need to take something to be able to work in the factories.
“The sun is very hot over here and we are expected to stand, so any normal person needs help to survive. Don’t take an overdose or you end up in the middle of the road.”
Segun who was still chanting his advert jingles waves at the personnel who smiled and hailed him.
According to Saturday Sun investigation, the most popular in the area is the Marijuana which they refer to as Arizona. Vershima, who hawks fairly used clothes around the place, told Saturday Sun that it is also known as gatepass.
“It was my cousin who works in one of the factories here that invited me to this zone to sell fairly used clothes. I have a wound on my shoulder, that’s why I was not employed. I am from Benue and plenty of my village people are working at the various factories. We call it gatepass and it is very cheap. We can buy for as low as N100 a wrap that will be enough for you for the day. My people love this type, not the one that some people love buying. They call it Mkpuru-miri,” he said battling with the pronunciation.
Mkpuru-miri is an Igbo slang for Methamphetamine or Crystal Meth
According to Vershima who alleged that they are allowed to operate with ease, said he was also a dealer and his wares are hidden inside the clothes that he was holding. “These boys are wicked. They have a group and if they should catch you selling it in the open, they can cause trouble for you. I am not afraid of the police or NDLEA (National Drug and Law Enforcement Agency) because we contribute money to settle them. They know that we are here and they are our customers. Last year, one of them was so intoxicated that he fell on the road and his rifle was snatched. Just be patient till it’s 5pm and see the crowd moving out. They come early to buy and late evening to buy another one. We are one family here. Very soon, all these fine girls will come out to drag them into the rooms for a quick session,” he said smiling sheepishly and pointing at the shanties.
On what exactly the girls would be dragging the men inside for, Vershima said the ladies are sex workers and responsible for the rate of poverty among the workers. “Most of the workers go home with at least N2,500 and when they are done, these evil girls will collect N1000 for sex and the drug sellers will also collect their share. By the time you eat for the day, nothing will be left in your pocket. This is why so many of them are stranded in Idasho. They cannot afford to rent a house. Go to the beach side at night and see the crowd that will spend the night there. This is why they hate us and are always fighting Tiv people. We are united and our elders bought land in the community and are helping us save money. Our girls are very beautiful and we do not permit them to date men from other tribes. Anytime you see them fighting, it is because of a woman or some drug matter,” he narrated.
Security operatives lament increase in crime
According to one of the senior security operatives guarding the Dangote Refineries, the free flow of drugs in that axis has increased the number of criminals who converge there.
“The companies around that community are the worst affected by this. We are doing our best to stop them from invading the site in an attempt to steal. The current security head, who was once a Commissioner of Police in the state, has assembled enough hands to protect the facility from burglars.
“We have written severally to the command to demolish those shanties and all we hear is that the issue of their fundamental rights need to be considered. It is not news here that drugs of all kinds are sold there. I even alerted my friends with NDLEA and nothing was done. Just walk into that place and ask questions.
“Since February till date, we have arrested more than 300 suspects found with stolen items from refineries and about 200 of them are remanded in Ikoyi correctional facility. If NDLEA can help us to stop that illicit, then crime might be reduced.”
When contacted the Lagos State Command spokesman, Benjamin Hundeyin, a Superintendent of Police told Saturday Sun that the command had yet to receive any compliant from anyone that drugs we being sold on the streets in Idasho community.
Also alerted in the course of investigation was a senior officer at the Lagos command office of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). While pleading that his name be left out in the report, the officer assured Saturday Sun that the observations had been noted.
Days later, a team of anti-narcotics operatives was deployed to the area, and six suspects were arrested. Among those arrested were Isa Ibrahim, Abdul Raheem Babatunde, Taofiki Fatai, Basil Idris Kazeem Jalailu and Isaka Badmus. The raid was conducted on October 29, 2022.
They were all found with different types of hard drugs that were believed were being sold to users in the area and amongst some workers from the various factories along that axis. Isa , a native of Chukun in Kaduna State was found with several kilograms of tramadol opposite the Dangote Refinery site in Idasho area, while Abdul and Taofiki who are both from Lagos State, were arrested with cannabis Sativa and skuchies.
Also arrested in the beach side of the same area, Idris and Kazeem were nabbed with 63kg of Cannabis Sativa while the operatives recovered 237.4grams of cannabis sativa.