•Inside UNIJOS where female students cook beans with Indian hemp, and BSU where it is nicknamed ‘rice’
From Gyang Bere, Jos and Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The intake of Indian hemp substances among students of the University of Jos, is as old as the history of the institution. Most students engage in the deadly act through bad company while others desire to acquire boldness in the face of undaunting issues.
Findings by The Sun Education reveal that Indian hemp is mostly consumed by students who are into cultism and other criminal activities. But the shocking aspect of it is the involvement of female students, on a large scale.
Investigations revealed that some of the female students cannot take part in any decent activity on campus without taking wraps of cannabis, mixed with other dangerous substances.
A female student of the University who is under psychiatric therapy at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), revealed how she became addicted to weeds, adding that she was lured into the act by her boyfriend who kept persuading her to try the drug for fresh inspiration.
The 26-year-old student revealed that when she was initiated at first her academic performance did increase for a short while but suddenly dropped as she vigorously engaged in taking more wraps.
“It was my boyfriend that introduced the Indian hemp to me”, she said. “The first time I did was through a porridge beans he cooked and throughout that day I was very weak. But he kept encouraging me that it will help me to read with understanding and have the boldness to confront my colleagues on campus.
“With time, I became used to it. I couldn’t resist the temptation any time I visited him until it became a habit. I take it anytime there is a social gathering to enable me talk and face up to people. Sometimes, I do certain things that ordinarily I couldn’t have done if I weren’t under any influence.
“At the beginning, it gave me energy to read and to do other things but later on, I became addicted to a point that if I do not take more wraps of the weed, I will not be able to talk to my colleagues and that gradually affected my academics. I then joined some of my female friends who are also into drugs, and we formed a group with other male students. At some point, we were buying and selling the weed to students who desire it on the campus.”
Our correspondent reports that the deadly weed and other dangerous substances are usually consumed at night around Naraguta, ‘Abuja’, and village hostel of the University where some of the students have become drug merchants. The students go to the Jeremiah Useni Stadium at the permanent site and Ruso village all within the University to smoke to their satisfaction mostly in the afternoon.
It was learnt that some of the off-campus students usually import the cannabis for sale to those in the hostel while those who have been into the habit for years have direct link with the dealers. Investigation revealed that most male students prefer to smoke the weed while their female counterparts usually cook beans with it to avoid the stain of the smoke on their clothes.
An ex-student of the university, who chose to simply go by the name, Dickson, revealed how some students engaged in the smoking and selling of hard drugs on the campus: “I am aware that Indian hemp and other drugs are sold secretly in the University,” he said. “Majority of the students smoke it around their hostels in the night. A wrap which was sold for N20 in 2015, now sells for N50, while that which used to be sold at N50 now costs N100. The weed is prepared in different forms: some prefer to smoke it while others cook beans with it for consumption. Most of the female students usually cook it.”
President, Student Union Government (SUG), Sidney Daman, admits that students engage in the intake of weed and other dangerous substances around the hostels at night, but claimed ignorant of buying and selling of the product in the institution.
“I can’t claim ignorant of the fact that students are engaged in smoking of dangerous drugs in the institution,” he said. “Many of these students take the weed in the hostel at night, and because this is a tertiary institution, you don’t expect me to flog anybody. The best I do is to advise them on the health implication. I have also informed them that it is a serious crime to smoke or harbour drugs in the hostel; that is why I move round the hostels at night to check some of these things and to tell them the effect on their academic performance. As an individual, I don’t know where they get these drugs from but I know that some of them buy them from the town and probably sell some to other students.”
Daman revealed that the university authorities and the SUG have been waging war against the habit but students have refused to change, saying more efforts are currently on to educate new students to abstain from the act and cultism. To this end, the SUG in collaboration with NANS (National Association of Nigerian Students) is currently planning a campaign against drug abuse to educate students on the health hazards and the social implications of taking Indian hemp and other dangerous substances.
Meanwhile, the Dean of Students Affairs, Prof. Ishmael Ogboru, has called on students involved in the intake to desist or face the full wrath of the law if caught. He said the institution has a counselling unit where students with social problems related to drugs and cultism are attended to, adding that it is a crime to smoke Indian hemp and any other substances in the campus.
The Senior Registrar, Department of Psychiatry, Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), Dr. Lubuola Bamidele, expressed fear at the rate at which female students engage in the intake of weed and other dangerous substance in various institutions in Plateau.
He said students of the University of Jos and other tertiary institutions in Plateau State form the bulk of their patients in the three psychiatric centres located across the state.
“The consumption of cannabis among students of tertiary institutions has medical and psychological implication,” he warned. “It is capable of creating mental illness and that is what we have found among students who have been brought here for treatment.
“The rate at which female students are engaged in the taking of weed recently is very alarming and if urgent steps are not taking to stamp out the act, more young female students will join the bad group and that will pose a threat to the national security in the country.
“Currently, I have four female students from the University of Jos who are taking medications for mental illness. They can’t continue with their studies for now because they have been overwhelmed by the act while several others have been treated and discharge.”
The situation report at BSU
As with UNIJOS so the Benue State University (BSU). As a result of its proximity to Wurukum where you have different motor parks, markets and so on, BSU has gradually become a haven for drug users.
A student of the institution disclosed to our correspondent that the modus operandi of these drug dealers is to make contacts through phone calls and then a venue is quickly fixed where the drug is swiftly exchanged for money.
He explained that sometimes, the deal is sealed on campus without anyone suspecting while at other times, both the buyers and sellers arrange to meet in one of the villages or parks close to the state-owned institutions.
“In this era of GSM, the drug business has become very easy for both the seller and the buyers,” the student said. “You hear them say something like, ‘I want rice’ and then, a venue is fixed and before you know it the deal has been sealed and the buying and selling had taken place without anyone noticing.”
A student of Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo in Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State who agreed to speak on the promise that her name would not appear in print disclosed that Effoyo Community and Aukpe Road areas of Ugbokolo are widely reputed to be the dens of drug sellers and buyers.
She explained that a particular street in Effoyo Community where these drug dealers are based does not have any name except that a Jehovah’s Witness Church is located around there.
“In Effoyo community, you see men and sometimes women openly tying the substance in leathers for sale to prospective buyers who are mostly students of the Benue State Polytechnics,” she said.
“The students who patronize these drug joints are well known for their bad behaviors of attending lectures late and strolling in nonchalantly to intimidate both lecturers and students alike. Most times, the strong minded lecturers either challenge such students or walk them out of the lecture halls while lecturers who fear for their lives just look away.”
She explained that these drug addicts who are usually members of cult groups sometimes tend to intimidate female students on campus by suddenly jerking their arms and asking why they cannot greet them adding, “If you are not careful, these same students can trace you up to your residence and rape you there.”
She noted that at other times, they tend to be very friendly depending on their mood but added that they are the ones fond of engaging in examination malpractices and forcefully involving other innocent students sitting close to them in examination halls.
While noting that the school authority had positioned several billboards and distributed stickers warning against cultism, drug addiction and other nefarious vices, our source lamented that these statements have become mere slogans as most of these students hardly adhere to them.
Asked what they gain from the intake of hard drugs, our source said it makes them feel high and fearless so that they can be feared within and outside the school premises. She maintained that some of them who are actually intelligent still create a little time for their studies while others who are less intelligent thrive on intimidating both lecturers and students to pass their ways through school revealing also that some of them either threaten or bribe lecturers to pass them.
Speaking on the health implication of drug abuse, Mr. Hillary Odeh Agbo, a lecturer in the Benue State University’s Department of Psychology, listed the psychological effects of taking hard drugs as confusion, self-denial, sleeplessness, blurred vision, high blood pressure, fainting fit, and even death.
He submitted that drug addiction can cause cognitive impairment on its users stressing that a young person that takes drugs is likely not to do well in school.