• Hemp smoking, the situation in institutions of higher learning in Ekiti, Kwara, Bauchi and Kogi states
By Chika Abanobi
Last week, we started running special report on hemp smoking in our institutions of higher learning across the country, something that should give the government, education authorities and, indeed, all well-meaning citizens great concern.
We started with the South West, by looking at the situation at Nigeria’s foremost universities, University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Ile-Ife. This week, we focus on Ekiti State and some states in the North. In coming weeks, we intend to look at the state of things in the institutions of higher learning in South East and South South.
In Ekiti State, weeds/Indian hemp peddling and smoking have been on the rise since God-knows-when. In many of the communities like Ise-Ekiti in Ise-orun Local Government Area (LGA), Emure LGA, Igbara-Odo in Ekiti South-West LGA, Ikere-Ekiti in Ikere LGA, Ijero in Ikole LGA, Atikankan and Oke-ila areas of Ado-Ekiti, among others, Indian hemp is grown and sold in large quantities. It is from these centres that interested students purchase their ‘products’ and ferry them into various campuses.
Inquiries from such institutions of higher learning as the Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, College of Education, Ikere, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, College of Health Technology, Ijero, and Federal University of Oye-Ekiti, in Oye and Ikole LGAs respectively, indicate that in spite of the efforts of school authorities at discouraging smoking and peddling of Indian hemp and other dangerous drugs, some students in these institutions still indulge in it.
In Ekiti State University, for instance, our correspondent gathered that there are spots where it is forbidden for serious-minded female students to pass through as from 6:30 or 7pm. This is because unsuspecting female students had been raped, maimed or kidnapped by hemp-smokers many of whom are students of the school.
A source said that students have customers in Atikankan or Oke-Ila who sell the weeds/indian hemp to them and since they conceal the drugs in sacks that make the weeds look like garri or some foodstuffs, security men in the institutions are not able to notice while they are being conveyed into the campuses.
But speaking with The Sun Education on the activities of drug peddling and abuse on the campuses in Ekiti, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Ekiti State University, Mr. Olubunmi Ajibade, dismissed the allegations as rumour.
Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin students spice up food with hemp
At Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin, matters are made worse in that many of the students live in rented apartments, outside the campus because of few available hostel spaces. This gives them freedom to live however and to do whatever they like.
According to findings by our correspondent they purchase their own hemp from some barbing saloons and Hausa kioks outside the school but smoke it on the campus and in the hostels when there is a party to attend. Information gathered showed that the cost of a wrap of hemp is about N50, while other tablets like trimadol, ryphanol and others costs between N200 and N500 each.
Sources say that the students sometimes pretend as if they are going into the bush to defecate but end up smoking Indian hemp while their friends keep close watch to signal to them when intruders are coming. They attend lectures dutifully in the day, but sneak away in the night to smoke the stuff. They also prepare pepper soup, rice, beans or noodles spiced with Indian hemp. In fact, Daily Sun learnt that it has become a favourite dish among students living both in the hostels and outside it.
Findings revealed that lots of male students living off campus play a fast game by preparing soup laced with Indian hemp to entertain their female visitors. These innocent girls, who carelessly walk into the trap, often have sad stories to tell. To worsen the situation, female victims get so confused about what actually transpired, thereby making it difficult to press charges of sexual harassment against their randy hosts. Some of the students who spoke to Daily Sun claimed that preparing pepper soup, rice, noodles or beans with Indian hemp has no health risk. They said the dish improves their sleeping habit and reduces the stress of academic work.
“People don’t know that hemp has health benefits too,” one of them said. “It is rich in fibre and aid satiety, holding your stomach longer between meals. Fatty acids in hemp also help reduce risks of heart related diseases, so I guess I need it as a student.” A student, who ate beans porridge prepared with hemp recalled staggering for a long time before he could regain consciousness. “I prepared beans and added a whole wrap of it. I decided to take a nap before doing laundry, but I woke up about 20 minutes later and found myself rolling on the floor. I was hitting my head on the floor, and I couldn’t stop.”
The situation at FedPoly, Bauchi and ATBU
There are four well-known institutions of higher learning in Bauchi, namely: Federal Polytechnic, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU), the Tatari Ali Polytechnic (ATAP) and the Bauchi State University of Social and Management Sciences campus located ten kilometres from Bauchi.
Although our correspondent could not ascertain the level of involvement of students at ATAP and Bauchi State University, he was able to establish that there is heavy smoking of canabis sativa otherwise known as Indian hemp or weeds among some students of Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi and ATBU.
Our correspondent reports that majority of the students that smoke weeds live outside the campus, at areas like Gwalameji and Sabon Kaura and Wuntio Dada.
“The sad part of it is that they also initiate girls, perhaps their girlfriends, to smoke it with them,” said a woman whose residence in Gwallameji area is a stone- throw from the place where students go to smoke hemp. She said she moved into the compound newly and was quite embarrassed to perceive the smell of Indian Hemp few days after packing in. “It was disheartening and when I asked I was told that it was students that were doing it. You can imagine my shock.”
Further investigation showed that students usually hang around, at night, at popular joints like Bubis and New Trafford to consume alcohol and other dangerous drugs to a frightening proportion.
Where they get money to drink almost every night beats the imagination, a source said. “Sometimes they appeared to be drinking beer but in truth the beer or whiskey is mixed with all sorts of weeds. When you go to these joints every night you will see students drinking and smoking and you will wonder what will happen to the future of this country.”
A caretaker to one of the numerous off-campus residents says he tries to ensure that only students with good character get accommodation from him, adding that he had had cause to eject students from his house once or twice because they bring bad friends that smoke Indian Hemp into the compound.
A 300 level student of Information Technology Student at ATBU says by their looks and behaviour you will know them. “They look rough and unkempt, and they don’t take their studies seriously,” he said. When contacted, the Chief Public Relations Officer, Mr. Zailani Bappa, doubted the truthfulness of the report.
Report from Kogi State Poly, Lokoja
At Kogi State Polytechnic, Lokoja, both the lecturers and students are said to be involved. Investigations revealed that smoking in this institution is a kind of social recognition. A student who identified himself as Segun said hemp smoking helps him to relieve tension in this era of recession.
When contacted the Public Relations Officer of the institution, Mr Luke Tijani Yakubu denied knowledge of any student smoking hemp on campus, adding that security presence in the school main campus in Felele, Lokoja is enough to scar away students from smoking anything whatsoever.
But he also noted that he could not vouch whether such activity is not going on in satellite campuses where students live outside the campus, and far from the control of the school authorities after school hours.
With reports from Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti; Layi Olanrewaju, Illorin; Paul Orude, Bauchi and Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja
[to be continued next week]