Pubdate: Sat, 06 Jul 2013
Source: Nigerian Tribune (Nigeria)
Copyright: 2013 African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc.
Authors: Muhammad Sabiu-Gusau; Oluwole Ige-Osogbo; Kola Oyelere-Kano; 
Tunde Ogunesan-Ibadan and Jude Ossai-Enugu


Even, 9-Year-Olds Have Become Consumers -- NDLEA

NDLEA figures: Lagos, Kano, 278 suspects/1200kg of hemp; Oyo, 207 
suspects/2,631kg of hemp; Zamfara, 322 suspects, Osun, 219 
suspects/85 hectares of hemp farms/6,022kg of hemp; Enugu, 70 
suspects/595kg of hemp

APART from those ubiquitous white painkiller tablets, Indian hemp is 
gradually emerging as the most abused drug in Nigeria. Anyone who 
doubts this only needs to stroll into any of the motor parks, liquor 
joints, abandoned buildings (public and private), mechanic workshops, 
major bus stops and spots where railway lines pass through markets or 
parks in Nigeria's major towns, to mention just a few.

In fact, anywhere unemployed (mostly uneducated) youths can be found, 
one is sure to find some people puffing away at the forbidden weed -- 
even in broad daylight.

Ironically, almost on a weekly basis, the media is awash with news of 
several kilogrammes of the product seized and publicly incinerated by 
the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), making one to 
wonder if the drug regulatory agency is only after those who deal 
(trafficking in large quantities) in the narcotic drug.

Saturday Tribune gathered that the young men who abuse this drug, 
including touts, commercial drivers, street urchins (popularly 
referred to as Area Boys), are also the same people who habitually 
live on the different brands of gin, whisky and rum that are now 
being produced in pocket-friendly sizes, including sachets.

They not only take their daily dozes of these spirits and smoke their 
'favourite weed', they have also found a way of up-scaling the 
effects by boiling the spirits together with a popular brand of tea. 
When ingested, they say, the effect is psychedelic -- and, for some 
criminal reasons, they get their kick from that.

Is it not surprising then that there is an upsurge in psychotic 
behaviour (and in some cases, sheer madness) among youths today? But 
the situation is about to get worse still.

According to reports, nearly half of adults in the United States of 
America have tried marijuana, 12 per cent of them in the past year, 
according to a survey by the Pew Research Centre. Fifty-two per cent 
of adults are said to favour legalising marijuana, up 11 percentage 
points just since 2010, according to the survey.

Sixty per cent think Washington should not enforce federal laws 
against marijuana in states that have approved its use. "We're on 
this hundred-mile-an-hour freight train to legalising a third 
addictive substance," says Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy adviser 
in the Obama administration.

Depth of marijuana crisis in Nigeria

In Nigeria today, despite the much-trumpeted fight against abuse of 
hard drugs, notably marijuana, the situation is not looking too good.


The number of youths currently neck-deep in marijuana abuse in 
Zamfara State, especially Gusau, the capital, is alarming, according 
to investigation. And as to be expected, different kinds of violent 
crimes, including house breaking, murder, arson, intimidation and so 
on have been on the upswing.

Areas most affected are Birnin Ruwa, Kofar Mani, Kofar Jange, Hayin 
Bugaje, and Tullukawa. Others are Hayin Dan Hausa, Dan Bedi, Hayin 
Mala Sani, and Dogon Dabino.

Worried by the development, the state governor, Abdul'aziz Abubakar 
Yari, recently constituted a special task force, under Inspector 
Abubakar Mohammed Dauran, with a mandate to curtail the activities of 
these youths.

Dauran told Saturday Tribune that the committee has been able to 
arrest 322 youths and dispossessed them of their weapons.


Authorities of the Osun State command of the NDLEA say they have 
destroyed 85 hectares of farmland used to cultivate Indian hemp in 
four different locations in the state.

In the last one year, the agency also said that its operatives have 
intercepted 6,022 kilogrammes of the weed, and arrested 219 suspects 
with drug exhibits. Of the 219 suspects arrested, 199 were males, 
while 20 were females.

The commander of the agency in the state, Ms. Anthonia Eden, said her 
command would continue to clamp down on criminals involved in illicit 
drug trade and that anybody caught would be made to face the full 
wrath of the law.

Eden said, "85 hectares of cannabis sativa farmlands were destroyed 
in four different locations in the state. The breakdown of the 
destruction is as follows: 30 hectares at Oloro Arinkinkin reserve in 
Isokan Local Government Area, on August 5, 2012 and 10 hectares at 
Ikeji-Ile in Oriade Local Government Area, on September 11, 2012."

She also disclosed that five hectares farmland of the illicit weeds 
were destroyed at Oloro Araromi, on September 25, 2012 while 40 
hectares were destroyed at Ago-Owu Forest Reserve on November 12, 
2012 -- all in Isokan Local Government Area of the state.

During the period under review, Eden stated that the agency secured 
76 convictions while 102 drug dependent persons were rehabilitated 
and reintegrated back to the society.

She reiterated the commitment of the command towards having a drug 
free society and appealed to all stakeholders to collaborate so as 
achieve the goal, stressing that her command would continue to hold 
lectures, seminars and other public enlightenment programme to 
sensitise the populace on the danger inherent in drug abuse and trafficking.


In Kano, the agency says it has intercepted 1200 kilogrammes of the 
weed while 220 kilogrammes of other psychotropic substances were 
seized in various raids within and outside the state capital.

According to the state commander of the agency, Mr. Ahmed Garba, the 
clampdown on suspected illicit drug dealers and traffickers has led 
to the arrest of 278 drug suspects, out of which 148 have been 
convicted and sentenced to various jail terms by the Kano Federal High Court.

Garba noted that Indian hemp tops the list of illicit drugs commonly 
abused by addicts in the state, but he believes his men have done 
creditably well in drastically reducing the scourge.

"We are on course, though the challenge is still there. Taking such 
volume of illicit drugs off the street is on its own a huge effort, 
and again for us to have secured conviction of offenders from the 
court is also an achievement. We believe that one day, we will 
achieve the ultimate result; which is to eradicate illicit drugs 
completely," he told Saturday Tribune.

Garba bemoaned the inadequacy of manpower and equipment available to 
the agency, saying that Kano, being a highly populated state with an 
estimated 10 million people, needs commensurate resources to achieve results.

"We do not have enough vehicles to do the job. The personnel strength 
is equally inadequate as we are very few. Of course, another problem 
is finance, which is needed for intelligence gathering, since the 
drug war is intelligence-based," he added.

Garba commended the state government and other sister agencies for 
their support.


In Oyo State, the state command of the NDLEA has been able to 
identify certain areas regarded as the major depots of cannabis in the state.

According to the Assistant Commander, Operations and Intelligence, 
Oyo State Command, Godwin Inyamah, an area known as Parapo area in 
Beere, Ibadan South East Local Government, is the headquarters of 
cannabis and other drugs in the state.

"The command, over the years, has been able to identify some 
locations which have high concentration of cannabis and other drugs 
in the state, and I can confirm to you that Beere in Ibadan is the 

"Other locations include Olomi Academy, Oja'ba, where they recently 
attacked our officers; Idi-Arere, Mapo, Challenge, Sasa, Ojoo axis, 
Iwo Road, Orita Aperin, Gate, Oje, Omoyale area, Dugbe, Orita-Merin, 
among others," Inyamah said.

Apart from working on the finished products which are freely abused 
in motor parks, Inyamah said the command had also been able to locate 
some cannabis farms in the state, and is currently destroying them.

Some of the farms in Ibadan, according to him, include Odo-Ona Elewe 
in Oluyole Local Government; Gambari forest, Tola village (also in 
Oluyole Local Government), and Ikoyi, among others.

He, however, noted that the problem besetting the total eradication 
of cannabis is the high demand for it in the market, coupled with its 
profit margin.

"With our investigation, a young man can begin cannabis business with 
just N2,000, get a table or stand in a motor park, sell and go home 
with big profit. With that, it is becoming increasingly tasking to 
really stop the sale and consumption because of this factor and many 
more," he lamented.

The Oyo State Commander, NDLEA, Mrs Omolade Faboyede, also revealed 
that the command had identified a relatively new dangerous drug which 
is in circulation in the state.

She said: "The new demon and specie in psychoactive substance, which 
is peculiar to Oyo State, is called Skonk or K2. The NDLEA, before 
now, had been making seizures and creating awareness on the dangers 
inherent in cannabis sativa, but with the emergence of the new and 
stronger substance called K2, there is need for more concerted 
efforts, else our youths, the future hope of any virile nation, will 
be consumed."

She noted that the age bracket mostly affected in the state is 
between nine years and 30 years.

Mrs Faboyede revealed that the state command in the last five months 
had "arrested a total of 207 suspects (195 males and 12 females) with 
2,631 kilogrammes of cannabis, 14 grammes of cocaine, 0.8 grammes of 
heroin and 2.110 kilogrammes of psychotropic substances. Also, within 
the same period, the command convicted 28 persons."

Faboyede said cannabis sativa and K2 (skonk) are the command's major 
problems now. She also noted that the abuse of cannabis has led to 
increase in the level of school dropouts, truancy, various crimes and 
increase in madness.


Even as it has remained the pride of Ndigbo, Enugu today, like other 
metropolitan cities, has had its own share of the problem of illicit 
use of hard drugs, especially with the influx of people from the 
North to the area.

A visit to Enugu and its environs would reveal several hideouts 
(black spots) where miscreants go for illegal substances. Some of 
these include Obiagu jungle, Ikiliki-Awkunanaw, Gariki, 
Amechi-Topland, Emene and the outskirts of Abakpa-Nike.

Already, 70 (62 males, eight female) persons have been arrested for 
unlawful possession of these banned substances, while 595.717 
kilogrammes of Indian hemp had been seized in the last six months by 
the state's command of the NDLEA.

The state commander of the agency, Mr. Anthony Ohanyere, also said 
that 6.2 grammes and 0.5 grammes of cocaine and heroin respectively 
were seized within same period.

He added that 13 persons were prosecuted and convicted at the Federal 
High Court, Enugu, while 35 drug addicts were counseled and 
rehabilitated during the period.

Apparently disturbed by the growing rate of drug addicts in the 
state, Chairman of Udenu Local Government in the state, Dr Godwin 
Abonyi, recommended the expansion of the NAFDAC's model of 
pharmaco-vigilance programme to track new psychoactive substances 
emerging out of the traditionally listed drugs.

In his recent lecture entitled 'New Psychoactive Substances', in 
commemoration of the 2013 UN's International Day against Drug Abuse 
and Illicit Trafficking, Abonyi also suggested the amendment of 
existing laws so as not to limit the scope to established list but 
any other substance which experts in future detect to be psychoactive.

Abonyi lamented the increasing involvement of the youth in drug abuse 
and drug trafficking. He identified increased crime rate, 
stigmatisation, exams failure, income loss, crisis in the family, 
disorderliness, among others, as some of the dangers inherent in drug abuse.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom