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Despite losing billions, Nigerians still take to hard drugs

Drug abuse is a global phenomenon which adverse effects cut across socio-economic discuss. The recent destruction of 54.244 metric tons of banned drugs confiscated from drug peddlers in Kano State was one of the measures to curb this menace, Daily Trust reports.

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The Senate last October raised an alarm that the 19 Northern states of the federation were under serious threat due to drug abuse.

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The lawmakers said that over three million bottles of codeine syrup were consumed daily in Kano and Jigawa states alone, a claim that was reportedly disputed by the Kano State Government, which asked for the documentary evidence of such claim.

The Upper Chamber also said that across the 19 states, women – young girls in tertiary institutions, working class ladies, some married, as well as unemployed women displaced by Boko Haram insurgency among others, were involved in drug abuse, and that in 2015 alone over 2,205 people were arrested in the North-West geo-political zone by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) over drug-related abuses.

The Senate’s alarm may have been an impetus to the recent public destruction of billions of naira worth of 54, 233, 375 tons of seized illicit drugs, by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) operatives in Kano.

Unlike other states where the major concern is cannabis sativa (also known as marijuana among other names), the trend in Kano seems more complex in that seizure of multiple drugs with all of them in considerable quantities, are recorded almost on a daily basis.

Speaking at the event the Chairman of the NDLEA Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah (rtd.) decried the alarming rate and magnitude of drug addiction by some Nigerian youth in recent times.

“In as much as the tonnage of the seized drugs for destruction today (Tuesday) is a clear indication of a good performance by NDLEA, for 54.244 metric tons of drugs to be intercepted from a particular state in no such a long period of time is of unacceptable magnitude and quite worrisome. It speaks of the extent and prevalence of these deadly substances in the state.

“In most states where we have carried out this exercise, the major drug of concern has been Cannabis sativa. The trend here is more complex in that we are talking of seizures of multiple drugs with all of them in considerable quantities. The quantity of Psychotropic substances seized, standing at 42 tons, is whopping. There have also been seizures of reasonable quantities of cocaine and heroin in the state. These are category A drugs that are not produced in the country.”  This Abdallah claims has destroyed many families in Nigeria today. 

According to him the preponderance of the abuse of psychotropic substances including cough syrup laced with codeine, tramadol and diazepam is worrisome

He said, “Sadly, all of us have become victims of drug abuse, directly or indirectly. There is hardly any family in Nigeria today not contending with the challenges of a drug dependent person. It is in the same vein that the entire society is battling with the litany of social vices and extreme violence aggravated by substance abuse.

“The increasing abuse of drugs among the youth and women across the country has resulted in needless deaths, stunting youth education and career, rendering them largely unproductive as they end up being unsuited for gainful employment. The result is that families are left bemused and devastated. Young boys and girls have taken to mixing a pharmacopeia of chemical substances in their drinks, he noted.”

He therefore urged the citizenry and other stakeholders to join hands with the agency to end the menace of drug abuse in the nation.

He said, “Only recently, our well respected National Assembly rose in unison in decrying the pervasive drug problem. But it does seem that we have lamented over the drug problem for too long, played the ostrich too often and lived a life of denial. What we need is action and the time to act is now. What is required is a concerted effort of relevant stakeholders including government agencies, state governors, Non-Governmental Organizations, traditional rulers, religious clerics, educational institutions and families to combat this menace.”

He commended the efforts of the Kano State government for making no pretense about the drug problem in the state and taking expected actions.

Speaking earlier, the state governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, said, “As a government, we are supporting NDLEA in this task especially by putting up all security agencies in the state as a task force to curb this menace.”

He confirmed that the state government is building a rehabilitation centre for NDLEA in the state, apart from two Toyota Hilux vans donated to the agency.

On his part, the Kano State Commander of NDLEA, Alhaji Hamza Umar, noted that the public destruction of the exhibit is stipulated in the act establishing the NDLEA (Cap N40 LFN as amended).

He said, “Therefore, this exercise is the destruction of 54,244.639Kg of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances which is a fragment of the total seizure made in the two commands, as approved by the Federal High Court of Justice Kano.”

Giving the breakdown of the burnt exhibits, Umar listed cannabis sativa 11,504.822kg; psychotropic substances 42,700.27kg, cocaine 26.187kg and heroine 13.360kg.

He also thanked Governor Ganduje for donating operational vehicles and for constructing a rehabilitation centre for the agency.

In her analysis of the composition of the hard drugs during the laboratory test, the Head of NDLEA forensic lab, Mrs C. Ogundipe, said the substances were seized from several outlets in Kano State from vendors and users alike.

She gave the different tactics of trafficking to include concealment in printers, military camouflage, lights, sirens and television sets among others.

She said, “Traffickers also use vehicle brain boxes to conceal cocaine to evade arrest. A particular trafficker was arrested with cow fats in paint drums to traffic cannabis.”

The Kano operation follows similar exercise, which saw 20 tons being destroyed in the FCT on 18 July and Ibadan on 26 October.

It is expected that the public destruction of seized hard drugs would drastically stem the tide of drug abuse and its attendant consequences.

Daily Trust recalled that the agency arrested 8, 257 suspected drug traffickers and seized 263,947.57kg of illicit drugs across the country in 2016.

The chairman of the agency, Abdallah, who said arrested suspects in 2016 comprised 7,720 males and 537 females, added that this comparatively meant a reduction of 521 persons arrested in 2015 which total was 8, 778, and also a reduction by 639, 677kg of the drug seized in 2016 compared to the total of 903, 624 seized in 2015. 

“This reduction was due to updated strategies adopted by the agency in preventing cannabis cultivation as cannabis seizure alone in 2015 was 871, 480kg,” he said.

He gave the 2016 breakdown as 305.166kg of cocaine, 66.283kg of heroin, 187, 394.00kg of cannabis sativa, 1,352.56kg of methamphetamine, 718.265kg of ephedrine and 74, 111.30kg of other sundry drugs.

According to him, the number of cases so far delivered in favour of the agency increased by 559 from 1,690 in 2015 to 2,249 in 2016, while more cannabis plantations totaling 718.78 hectares were destroyed, compared to 377.12 hectares destroyed in 2015.

 


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