How drug threat­ens North­ern Nige­rian women (2)

Weekly Trust - - News -

Ac­cord­ing to the 2015 an­nual re­port of the Na­tional Drug Law En­force­ment Agency, NDLEA, the north-west topped the ta­ble of ar­rests for drug re­lated of­fences for that year, with a to­tal of 2,205 per­sons, beat­ing the south-west which recorded 1,785 ar­rests. The north-cen­tral fol­lowed with 1,605 while the south-south, south-east and north-east recorded 1,380, 979 and 824 re­spec­tively.

But out of a to­tal of 2,205 peo­ple ar­rested on drug charges in the north-west, only 38 were fe­males - the least, com­pared to other zones, es­pe­cially south­south which led with a to­tal of 269 fe­males.

This could be be­cause the ar­rests were made largely for traf­fick­ing and use of nar­cotics such as co­caine, heroin and cannabis, which con­sti­tuted over 90 per cent of drug seizure for the year and pre­vi­ous years.

The NDLEA, es­tab­lished by De­cree 48 of 1989 (now CAP N30 LFN 2004) is the gov­ern­ment agency charged with erad­i­cat­ing il­licit traf­fic and use of nar­cotic drugs and psy­chotropic sub­stances.

How­ever, the agency faces an up­hill task in deal­ing with the prob­lem of drug abuse by women in the north be­cause, its man­date does not cover cough syrup, the most com­monly used sub­stance by the women.

The NDLEA bor­rows from World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion, WHO, which has placed un­der international con­trol about 118 nar­cotic sub­stances, while that of psy­chotropic sub­stances is about 111.

But the list does not in­clude cough syrups and the tablets that North­ern women now use to get high. Al­though codeine is in the list of nar­cotics, when it is used in cough mix­tures, it is re­garded as medicine and is per­fectly le­git­i­mate. So, the ladies set­tle for cough mix­tures that con­tain codeine.

Tablets such as ro­phynol, tra­madol, di­azepam and lex­otan, which are abused by North­ern women, are con­trolled drugs that are sold only af­ter a doc­tor’s pre­scrip­tion.

It was gath­ered that the tablets are usu­ally pre­scribed for ex­treme pain such as that ex­pe­ri­enced by peo­ple suf­fer­ing from the sickle cell dis­ease and neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders. But those in­tent on get­ting them for a mo­ment of high eas­ily and read­ily pur­chase the drugs.

Ac­cord­ing to a phar­ma­cist, KemiOlatun­dun, con­trolled drugs “af­fect the mood and could make the user a dan­ger to her­self/ him­self and to the so­ci­ety.”

She said codeine cough syrup is also clas­si­fied among con­trol drugs be­cause of the codeine con­tents, and they are to be sold only at a doc­tor’s pre­scrip­tion.

The abuse of codeine syrup and th­ese tablets now con­sti­tute the great­est chal­lenge faced by drug of­fi­cers op­er­at­ing in North­ern Nige­ria. Since the law does not for­bid the drugs from be­ing sold or con­sumed, it is dif­fi­cult for law en­force­ment agen­cies to tackle the men­ace.

Hamza Umar, state com­man­der of the NDLEA in Kano, told the icirnige­ that the state was wit­ness­ing the in­volve­ment of more women in drugs, ba­si­cally cough syrup and off -the-counter drugs like ro­hyp­nol, tra­madol and oth­ers.

Mr. Umar dis­closed that he had 19 fe­males in de­ten­tion and that all were ar­rested in one day for drug abuse. One is a 200-level univer­sity stu­dent.

“I will not de­ceive the pub­lic. It is in­deed in­creas­ing. We are see­ing more women now get­ting in­volved in drugs. I just sent our op­er­a­tives into town and within one hour they rounded up over 100 girls in­volved in drugs. And they found th­ese girls in just two places in­side Sabon­gari, and they cut across all ages,” he re­vealed in a chat.

His coun­ter­parts in Sokoto, Zam­fara, Kaduna and Katsina have made sim­i­lar rev­e­la­tions. The NDLEA Com­man­der in Sokoto said the in­volve­ment of women in drugs is now a se­ri­ous prob­lem not just in the state, but in the whole of the North. He told our re­porter in an in­ter­view that while men abuse cannabis, the women now abuse cough syrup with codeine con­tent.

“To tell you the truth, I think the is­sue of cough syrup came around 2005, that’s when we be­gin to see a pro­lif­er­a­tion of cough syrup. I started this job in the ‘90s and we never saw any­thing like this. It has be­come an epi­demic. I had worked in La­gos and Ondo and I have never ar­rested any­body over cough syrup or heard any case of abuse of cough syrup,” he lamented.

Since cough mix­ture is not re­garded as nar­cotic, it is not cap­tured in the sta­tis­tics of the NDLEA. But Mr. Idris gave an in­di­ca­tion of how se­ri­ous the prob­lem is.

“A for­mer Com­man­der of the NDLEA in Kano said about three mil­lion bot­tles of codeine cough syrup are be­ing con­sumed daily in Kano state alone,” he stated.

It is com­mon to see young girls in so­cial spots at night openly take cough syrup in many cities across the north, but es­pe­cially in Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Katsina, Gusau, Gombe, Maiduguri and Yola.

In Kano where re­tail­ers of codeine are largely based in Sabon­gari, you find sin­gle and mar­ried women in the streets of Odu­tola, SanyaOlu and Abedi at night, from 9.00 p.m. till early hours of the morn­ing, frol­ick­ing with bot­tles of soft drinks mixed with bot­tles of codeine.

Mar­ried women who live in con­ser­va­tive parts of the city send chil­dren or friends to buy the drugs for them.

Umar Dambo, a medicine store owner in Gusau, told icirnige­ that mar­ried women in the city send their chil­dren to buy the syrup.

“Usu­ally they start buy­ing from 6.00 p.m. un­til about 9.00 or 10.00 p.m. when most shops would close.

Users of codeine syrup have dif­fer­ent rea­sons for tak­ing it. Ac­cord­ing to Jum­maiSalau, who lives in Sabon­Gari Kano, codeine im­proves her sex­ual prow­ess.

She told the re­porter that most of her friends who use codeine do so for the same rea­son.

“Even mar­ried women use it to sat­isfy their hus­bands,” she re­vealed, but stressed that there were those who use it to “cool ten­sion.”

Of­fi­cials of NDLEA also cor­rob­o­rated Ju­mai’s con­fes­sion.

“Some of the mar­ried women con­fessed to us that they take it to im­prove their li­bido so that their hus­bands would not look for other women. Some say they have mar­i­tal prob­lems, and some say it just makes them for­get their wor­ries,” said the Kano NDLEA com­man­der.

In Borno, es­pe­cially Maiduguri, codeine ad­dic­tion among girls and women has be­come an epi­demic. A mem­ber of the state Civil­ian JTF told this web­site that girls and women of

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