From Our Reporters
The other day, the chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Brig-Gen. Buba Marwa (retd), disclosed that the agency recovered over N90 billion worth of illicit drugs and cash from suspected drug traffickers between January and May 2021.
Marwa also said that over 5,000 persons were arrested for drug-related offences, while the agency secured more than 500 convictions within the period under review.
Apparently alarmed by the development, Marwa said leaders at all levels “must attach some urgency to the need to rid our society of the drug menace.”
A statement by the director of media and advocacy of the NDLEA, Mr. Femi Babafemi, titled, “There’s urgent need to rid Nigeria of drug scourge,” quoted Marwa as saying: “Our record at the NDLEA in the first five months of this year calls for sober reflection: over 5,000 arrests; over 3,000 charged to court, with more than 500 convictions, 2,772 individuals were counselled and treated for drug-related problems. More than two million kilogrammes of assorted drugs were seized and over N90bn worth of drugs and cash recovered. These statistics are alarming and are red flags about the need to safeguard the future of the young generation.
“That is why we are advocating a new social order where drug test becomes the norm, for couples as part of the wedding rites, for students as a continuous process, starting from admission into tertiary institutions, and for government employees, as part of the employment process and periodic validation of their employment.”
Indeed, every nook and cranny of the country could be said to be saturated with all manner of intoxicating substances. More Nigerians, the young and the not-so-young, men and women, are dealing in various drugs and the prevalence is becoming an epidemic.
All over the place, including secondary schools, sundry drugs have become part of daily activities. Teachers, students, doctors, bankers, politicians, law enforcement agents and clerics, among others, are doing drugs. The situation worsened after the #EndSARS protest, which exposed the vulnerability of the police. As someone remarked, this is a generation of drug addicts.
No doubt, the damage that drug addiction is inflicting on the country and its implication are enormous and multifaceted. Not long ago, a governor in the South West lost his son due to drug abuse or overuse. Miss Chidinma Ojukwu, 21, is standing trial for allegedly stabbing her lover, Osifo Ataga, to death under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
Enugu ranks second in South East
Enugu State ranked second to Imo in a recent survey on use of drugs and illicit substances in the South East.
Daily Sun’s investigation showed that crack was the popular drug in the state, until recently when a substance called ‘Colorado’ topped demand.
Commander of the NDLEA in the state, Bassey Aniete, during activities marking the United Nations International Day Against Drugs and Illicit Trafficking 2021, said, “The most disturbing has been the active involvement of the youths in the business.”
He stated that the command had, in the first half of the year, arrested 46 suspects, consisting 38 males and eight females, with seizure of 717.578kg of cannabis sativa, 132.39g of cocaine, 34.90g of methamphetamine and 81.810kg of psychotropic substance.
At a stakeholders’ sensitisation workshop on prevailing drug challenges in the state, organised by the NDLEA, a traditional ruler, Igwe Okey Ogbodo, from Isi-Uzo LGA, lamented that communities were feeling the negative effects of drug abuse by the youth.
The spots notorious for drug sale in Enugu include Old Artisan Market and New Artisan Market, as well as the Moore House/Owerri Street, off Ogui Road. Some vendors also mill around popular clubs, especially around the Rangers Avenue/Igboeze Street of Independence Layout.
The principal staff officer, drug demand reduction unit, NDLEA, Ekiti State Command, Mr. Peter Njoku, said: “In Ekiti State, mostly, they abuse cannabis sativa. Cannabis sativa has different street names. Some call it Indian hemp, weed and so on.
“There are also other types of cannabis they abuse here in Ekiti State, such as skunk, Ghana weed (this type is mostly compressed in form like a bible), Colorado ( this is concealed in beverage sachets to deceive people), raphynol, tramadol, diazepam (D5), codeine (common cough syrup containing codeine), Scrooches (this is a mixture of different types of drugs like cannabis, water, codeine, tramadol, etcetera, with flavour) and Monkey Tail (this is cannabis soaked in gin, allowed to ferment. This drug is mostly taken by those working in motor parks, garage boys and drivers).”
Njoku also gave some reasons people abuse drugs in the state to include “personal factors, lack of parental care, broken homes, unemployment. They also abuse it because of emotional and psychological stress such as frustration, anxiety, economic depression, peer group influence, to achieve success in a competitive situation, to enhance performance, environmental factors, occupational predisposition (type of jobs people do, such as well diggers), relaxation and some take it because they saw the adverts on television and radio and try to experiment with it.”
Abuse of drugs has long and short-term effects. It exposes users to hypertension, hepatitis B, liver cirrhosis, tuberculosis and can damage important organs in the body. Other consequences are that drugs can affect the family, as resources meant for family upkeep will be channelled to treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, thereby rendering the family poor, school fees, feeding, clothing, medical care and other expenses will become impossible for the family to maintain because treatment of a drug addict gulps a lot of money.
The prevalence of accidents on roads could be traced to substance abuse, by way of impaired vision, misjudgment of distance, sleeping while driving; armed robbery (as drugs embolden users to do whatever they want), cultism, prostitution, high rate of school dropout, divorce in marriage and truncated dreams are also ramificatiuons.
Dr. Dada Usman, a consultant psychiatrist, Department of Psychiatry, Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti, said: “The most commonly abused drugs in Ekiti are cannabis, tramadol, benzodiazepines and codeine.
“The complications of drug abuse are numerous and include physical, psychological and social complications. Several studies have linked cannabis use to increased psychiatric disorders, including psychosis, anxiety disorders and depression. A high proportion of young males admitted in our facility have substance use disorders.
“Drug abuse is now becoming a serious social issue, as more youths, both male and female, are now engaged in it.”
Koskorin reigns in Bayelsa
At a time, tramadol and plain marijuana or cannabis, also known with the street name igbo, was common in Bayelsa, but now, a hybrid of igbo and gin, called Monkey Tail, with the street name Koskorin, is the major illicit drug used in Bayelsa State.
As it is common in the metropolis, so is it in the hinterland. Statistics available from the NDLEA indicated that the drug is very common in the state.
Mr. Obah Daniel Howells, a deputy superintendent and staff officer, public affairs, NDLEA, Bayelsa State Command, in an interview, revealed that the command has seized many drums of Koskorin in the state.
“In Bayelsa, the common drug we have is igbo, commonly known as cannabis. Then there is the hybrid of the igbo: we have Arizona, AZ, Skunk and Cloud. There is also Monkey Tail, popularly called Koskosrin, which is cannabis merged with local gin. Then we have a trend from 2019, where there is prevalence of a drug called methamphetamine (Meth) with its street name Ice and Melt. It is crystalline white and brownish. It is produced from a clandestine laboratory. Though we are yet to uncover any, we are working to uncover if it exists in Bayelsa.
“Cocaine and heroin are still common. However, the one that is most patronised is Koskorin. It has come to be generally accepted as part of the culture of the people. Every function you attend, especially burial ceremonies, Koskorin is on full display. It is seen as the drink of the day. The only thing remaining for Koskorin is for it to be officially advertised. We have seized drums and drums of it.”
In Akwa Ibom State, the dominant drug abused is cannabis sativa (India hemp) known locally as Ikong Ekpo, and more than 511kg have been seized in the last one year.
Coming a distant second to this is other psychotropic substances like tramadol and other generic drugs, which the state command of the NDLEA said about 88.5kg were seized within the same period, with heroin accounting for 0.31kg, while cocaine came next with only 0.1222kg, thus bringing the total of drug seizure with the period to 60kg.
The state commander of the NDLEA, Mrs. Obot Bassey, told Daily Sun that a total of 244 suspects were arrested between July 2020 and June 2021, made of 214 males and 30 females.
“We must prioritise efforts to sensitize and create awareness on the devastating consequences of drug abuse and illicit trafficking on our youths and societies. Factual information on drugs can impact on changes specific drug use patterns and reduce the associated problems; while drug education can contribute toward the decreased harm, thereby saving the lives of our young people,” Obot said.
In Anambra, Mkpulu mmili for all
In Awka, the capital of Anambra State, the illicit use of some hard drugs is gradually increasing, especially among the youths. Young people, male and female, consume different types of drugs for different purposes.
Some take hard drugs for fun, some do so to get high, while some consume hard drugs as their means of fighting depression and frustration.
Some of the popular hard drugs abused in Awka and its environs include Indian hemp, methamphetamine, Mkpulu mmili and tramadol. There is also the consumption of shisha.
Although some say that shisha is not a hard drug, the consumption is considerably high among some youths in the capital city. Shisha points are located in some nightclubs and other recreational centres.
In Awka, some youths smoke marijuana openly without fear of being arrested by law enforcement agents. Some smoke it openly at motor parks, clubs, bars and some recreational centres without any form of fear that they might be arrested.
In fact, from the way they puff out the smoke carelessly and excitedly, it is obvious that those saddled with the responsibility of checking the ugly trend are having a hard time battling the menace.
The trend appeared to have gotten worse after the #EndSARS protests that swept through the country some months ago. These days, street urchins brazenly smoke on the streets, unlike before, and perpetrate crimes recklessly.
An indigene said: “Security people are human beings too. So, I think they are just being cautious. The society is gradually decaying as it concerns drug use. But I hope someday security people would take over the streets as they used to.
“For now, the hard drug rampantly used here is Indian hemp. There is also the one they call Mkpulu mmili. There is also tramadol. Even though it has been banned, it’s still in the market.”
In Ebonyi, Loud, SK, Arizona lead
Some drug-consuming youths in some parts of Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, have started going beyond the usual marijuana and other known drugs in their craze for new highs.
It was gathered that a good number of youths who are into drugs no longer find marijuana strong enough to satisfy their quest for intense intoxication. The reporter, who visited some joints, hotels, clubs and hotspots where youths often gathered to relax within Abakaliki, learnt that, apart from the mixture of different kinds of herbs and alcoholic drinks to enhance intoxication, some youths who are into drugs now resort to other sterner intoxicants.
A drug addict, who gave his name as Gbosa, told the reporter that marijuana was no longer as strong as it used to be.
He said: “I don’t take marijuana again. Oh, I can’t remember the last time I took that stuff. My friends and I now take Loud, SK or Arizona or stuff in that category.”
Another smoker, who refused to give his name, told our correspondent at a drinking joint in Abakaliki that concoctions of different drugs was best.
Imo leads in South East
Drug addiction is becoming an ingrained habit adopted by residents of Imo State, especially teenagers, who have gone wild in the exploration of various kinds of the drugs.
Worst still, some of the physically challenged beggars from a certain part of the country resident in the state have found solace in harg drugs intake. They spend the proceeds realised from begging on drugs.
Some of the drugs taken by the youngsters include tramadol, rophynol, skuchi and shisha, among others.
Others methods of getting high are sniffing stench from pit latrines, burnt tyres, gums, abuse of cough syrup, medicines and inhaling cooking cubes, among others.
Some of the abandoned government buildings today have been converted to smoking joints by addicts. Most popular among them is the abandoned market project initiated by former Governor Rochas Okorocha, along Onitsha-Owerri Road, a few metres away from the popular Control Post Junction, Owerri.
That spot also serves as a hideout for robbers, who attack unsuspecting passersby as they wait along that road to board commercial vehicles.
The NDLEA said, between January and June, it seized 646kg of hard drugs, while 60 suspected drug traffickers were arrested.
NDLEA commanderin the state, Nse Inam, made the disclosure recently in Owerri, the state capital, to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking.
Abia youths go untamed
In Abia State, youths who were hitherto involved in narcotics consumption have graduated into taking mostly psychotropic substances that include tramadol, cough syrups, raphynol and diazepam.
Investigations revealed reasons for this shift in trend from the traditional illicit drugs such as cannabis, cocaine and heroin to psychotropic substances like tramadol, rahypnol and diazepam was because the latter were easy to keep, don’t have identifiable odour, were cheaper and, above all, still give the same or even higher feeling than what narcotics give.
To this end, a source at the NDLEA office in Abia said, “What we are targeting now are mainly tramadol, benylin, rohypnol and diazepam because we have lately discovered that the youths are shifting away from the traditional illicit drugs like cannabis, cocaine and heroin to psychotropic substances because they are easy to keep, they don’t have odour and they still give the same feeling that they get when they take cannabis and others.
“This is outside the 720kg of illicit drug substances. In fact, because of the high rate of the abuse of psychotropic substances, we are now beaming our light on Ariaria Market and other patent medicine dealers in the state.”
Commander of the NDLEA in the state, Mr. Akingbade Bamidele, recently disclosed that the command seized 9,110.252kg of drugs between 2018 and 2020. Out of this number, a sizeable quantum was psychotropic substances.
Investigations revealed that out of about 75 drug-related cases the agency filed in court, 41 have been concluded and sentenced. To cap it all, the agency got approval from the Federal High Court to destroy about seven tons of illicit exhibits that were seized.
It was perhaps in an attempt to arrest this menace in schools that Abia State Ministry of Education organized a summit recently to curb cultism in secondary and primary schools in the state.
Consumption increasing in Rivers
Investigation has shown that the number of people involved in the abuse of substances suspected to be hard drugs, particularly non-conventional ones, is increasing daily in Rivers State.
From study, most people think it is just people who are taking conventional drugs like codeine, tramadol and cocaine that are in vogue. Now, youths in Rivers State have gone beyond normal crack; they have discovered non-conventional drugs.
Below are the common drugs used by youths in the state. They include: Ice, white and red colors, SK, pawpaw leaf, casava leaf, lizard faeces, soldier root, rohypnol (aka sweet noy), Thailand, crack (cocaine) and cannabis (Indian hemp).
Checks by Daily Sun showed that the youths have identified another substance, which they call Lacatomtom. It is a mixture of some drinks and sweets. Sometimes, they add tramadol to it. This drug is very dangerous and makes those addicted to it easily “very high” after consumption.
According to the spokesman of the NDLEA in Rivers State, Mr. Emmanuel Ogbumgbada, the agency is worried about the consumption of unconventional drugs in the state.