Drug Peddling Business Inside Abuja

Drug Peddling Business Inside Abuja
Drug dealers and peddlers have devised a new dimension to their business strategy. Investigation shows that a good number of them, under the guise of patronising clubs and relaxation centres at night freely carry out their activities without anyone noticing. SOLOMON NDA ISAIAH and KEHINDE AJOBIEWE write on this thriving business. 

Abuja, the nation’s capital, experiences, on a daily basis, people from various parts of the country who troop into the city in search of greener pastures. But the set of people that have become a source of concern to the government, and indeed the society, are among others, women of easy virtues who are usually addressed as commercial sex workers. Their increase in the city is alarming, and if not curtailed, their activities will be a serious embarrassment in the nation’s capital.

It is a known fact that commercial sex workers co-habit with criminals. These are the daredevil armed robbers, who are a nuisance in the society. Their modus operandi is sometimes to pay regular visits to these commercial sex workers during the day and lavish huge sums of money on them, while at the same time, using it as a disguise to survey where they will strike later at night.

This is the story of most entertainment centres, scattered in every nooks and crannies of the city.
The disturbing dimension to the proliferation of night clubs is the undercover they provide for patrons of hard drugs.

Investigations by LEADERSHIP SUNDAY showed that a good number of drug addicts and peddlers hide under the cover of patronizing these clubs to buy and consume illicit hard drugs. For them, the only safe haven for such “consumables”, as they call it, is the clubs, more so as many of them operate at nights.

LEADERSHIP SUNDAY went round most of the clubs in town and discovered that most of the people that patronized the areas are drug peddlers, whose customers come in exotic cars. Many of the customers are also the super rich individuals and those from wealthy backgrounds who have developed an unquenchable taste and habit for drugs.

The drug dealers themselves have their customers among the girls who usually litter these hotels. A good number of stores around Wuse 2 and Garki area, on investigation, operate till dawn not because of genuine medical services they render but because of the hard drugs they sell to their customers who only come out at night to purchase them.

In Wuse 2, it is common at nights to see young boys who disguise to be selling hot drinks or even preparing noodles for customers selling drugs. It takes a careful observation and mingling to identify the real mission of these night crawlers. Some might just be strolling around, but their main business is the sale of hard drugs like “tramol”, “refunol”, “cocaine”, “tutoline”, “benelyn”, “codeine”, “valium 5 and 10”, “Indian hemp”, and so on.

“These days, people smoke hemp and take the drug publicly without anybody harassing or arresting them. To our greatest dismay, you will find police vans parked around such areas and even patrolling around. Some of these policemen even stop-by to exchange pleasantries with the drug peddlers, and sometimes partake in this ‘consumable’,” a night crawler alleged.

In all these places, research showed that criminals flock around the girls who are usually used for car-snatching and surveying people’s apartments before they go for their operations. “Most prostitutes have used their jobs as a way of surveying for their clients only to come back with them to rob at night. Some go to the extent of inducing their clients and making away with their money and other valuables,” a source said.

A man, who pleaded anonymity, said he picked a lady from a popular hotel to his hotel room, and when he slept off, the lady took his car keys and opened his car and took all his money, and came back to the room to pick his two mobile phones and thereafter left. He said he was shocked when he woke up and she was gone. According to him, he could not recognise her, even if he comes across her again.

LEADERSHIP SUNDAY correspondent, while sitting beside two club girls around BigBite, a nightclub in Wuse 2, discovered that their discussions were centred on how they could induce their clients with drugs in order to dispose them of their valuables.

As part of their operation, it was discovered that most of the ladies, used in this infamous business, change their names on a daily basis. A girl once admitted that her name was “Juliet” and when confronted later, said: “I beg, na the name I choose to answer today be that”.

Some of the ladies in Garki and Wuse 2, who spoke on how they joined the prostitution trade and drug business, bared their minds to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY. Amaka, who wanted her surname withheld but lives in Mararaba said she is a mother of two and that the death of her husband dragged her into prostitution. She said she is a teacher by profession and her little earning could not cater for her and her children. So, she comes to Lagos Street every night to hustle in order to make ends meet.

Another lady, Zainab Bala, said she cannot do without taking “tramol” or “codeine” daily. In her Words: “I don’t take beer. When I’m leaving home to hustle, I only take codeine.” Another lady, Gina, said her friend brought her from her hometown, Benue, to Abuja, and ever since then, she has been sponsoring her younger ones in school and also sending money to her parents at home through prostitution.

In popular gardens found in Utako, Dutse, and other parts of Abuja, people smoke Indian hemp as if they were smoking cigarettes, and as if there are no law enforcement agents in the Federal Capital Territory. A lot of people, who resort to using drugs, do so with the aim of relieving emotional and psychological stress which they go through. This, however, is far from the solution from such indulgences, as reports have shown that a number of people with such addictive indulgence emerge worse and far from the relief they had sought from taking drugs.

Investigations showed that most of those who indulged in this illicit practice were those from broken homes, and those with family-related problems. A good number of them also found themselves in it as a result of peer pressure, which, in most cases, is the over-riding factor. This is where the youth age bracket comes into focus.

Miss Janet Dako (not real name), a 29-year-old from Kaduna State, found solace in drugs in order to put behind her the ugly experiences she had passed through while growing up in Kaduna. Today, she resides in Life Camp, a sprawling settlement in the FCT, and has a thriving fish store at the Kado Fish Market, but she has found it difficult to come out of the practice.

According to her, “I was born in Kaduna, where my parents live. But for me, it is as if I never had any parent. This is because my father, right from the beginning, was never there for us. I and my siblings, who are now with me in Abuja, never experienced the affection of a father. He was a military officer, though retired now.

“While he was in the service, he moved round the entire country, but we were left under the care of a lady who was not even our mother. This was because my father and my late mother were not legally married. So at a point, because of the nature of my father’s job, he ended up marrying another wife as a result of which my mother left him. That was how my father took us while I was 11 years old and gave us to a relation of ours who also lived in Kaduna. It was not too long, my mother died in one of the crisis that engulfed Kaduna in the early 90’s.”

Continuing in tears, she said: “At the age of 13, I was raped by a guy whom I took like an elder brother since I had no elder brother except a younger brother and a younger sister, whom, like I said before now, live with me and are helping me out at the fish market. After that rape, it was as if that opened the floodgate for the unwholesome kinds of life I had lived thereafter. It became so intense that I was no longer comfortable living with the woman our father asked to look after us.

“This was how I escaped to Abuja in 2006. I never knew anyone when I came to Abuja. So, the first person I met on arrival was a military guy at the Mogadishu Barrack. It was through him that I knew Abuja. In one of those times that I used to relax at the Mammy Market, I met another guy who was into taking drugs, and instantly, we became friends. He had some allocations for the newly constructed shops in Kado and offered to give me one.

“That was how I started the business, and asked my younger ones to join me. Today, I have a good place in Life Camp. But honestly, I wish to be delivered from this attitude, because it is taking a toll on my health. There was a day some policemen from the Life Camp Police Station raided Jabi Lake, when they got information that some people were hiding there to take drugs. This was in the height of the insecurity in Abuja last year.

It took the intervention of some prominent residents of the area to get me out of police cell, two days after. Since then, I have learnt my lesson, but I have not been able to stop the practice,” she concluded.

However, the Commander, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), FCT Command, Mr. Dennis Obiefule, has stated that it is going to be difficult to stop drug peddling in the country as a whole, due to the high demand for drugs and the high rate of unemployment.

“But we can reduce these things if there are jobs, if people will learn trades and start doing things differently. It is our wish to put a stop to it, but because there is demand for such drugs, coupled with high rate of unemployment and the fact that everybody wants to be rich quickly.”

Obiefule told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that the agency is aware of the existence of these flashpoints where narcotics are sold openly in the FCT, and that they are doing their best to tackle the issue. “I make a report every week to the FCT minister on the raiding of black spots in the FCT, and some of the places have been raided.

We know the black spots, though there may be new ones. When you raid them, you create scarcity. By the time you arrest a number of them, other people will regroup, because there are lots of unemployed people. More people are coming in; when they come and find no job to do, they resort to drug peddling,” he said.

He added that although the agency makes arrest almost on a daily basis, but the truth is that the more you raid them, the more other people regroup. He said the major dealers most times don’t come out to sell. They recruit boys, and by the time the boys are arrested, they recruit new ones. “The ones you have arrest, some of them are willing to give out information on their masters.

But unfortunately, they don’t know where they live. They only communicate on phone. These drugs are stored where people live, because most of them have their warehouses in the satellite towns. If people in the neighbourhood can give us information about these places, it will help us. I have had meetings with garden operators, and they are cooperating with us. We also need the assistance of nightclub operators, because they see these people and see this thing happening. They should give us information, because we can’t be everywhere.”

The NDLEA sector commander also lamented that the issue of drug is a big problem that is giving the agency serious concern. “In spite of all the efforts we are making to put a stop to these illicit dealings and consumption, it still appears to be on the increase. There are many factors responsible for it, because if you look at the statistics of arrest and seizures we have made, you will expect that this thing will go down. But still, more and more people get involved.”

Speaking on the arrest the agency made in 2012, he said, “Last year alone, we seized 5,094 kilogrammes of various illicit drugs, which include cocaine, cannabis (Indian hemp), heroine and psychotropic drugs. And we convicted 89 accused persons; about 70 people were counselled, treated and then released back to the society.

My thinking was that there would be a reduction this year in the activities of drug dealers; but unfortunately, it is not so. For January 2013 alone, we arrested 42 people with 4.4 tonnes of various kinds of drugs; in 2012, our seizure was 5.094 tonnes of various drugs, yet you still see that there are people doing the business.

“It has to do with demand. People are already addicted to these drugs. So, the more they demand for it, the more people still go and look for where to get these things. So, that is the problem. We are doing so much to discourage this activity, but unfortunately, the thing is still here with us. The truth is that it is not possible to put a stop to this, but we can reduce it, and that is what we are trying to do.” 

Similarly, the Head of Information and Outreach Programme, Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB), Mr. Joe Ukairo, told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that the mandate of the board does not include the control of the use or sale of hard drugs, but where such users and sellers stay, which often is connected to make-shift structures.

“We have worked hand-in-hand with NDLEA to remove illegal structures that sheltered the users and dealers of illegal items, such as hard drugs. So, that is the extent we have handled that. It’s not directly within our purview, but the removal of illegal structures, shanties, and batchers is within our jurisdiction, and they have a connection with drug dealers and users.

So, where there is security tip-off on such places, we work hand-in-hand with the security agencies to remove them. But direct control of illegal drugs and use is not within our purview,” he stated, adding that it is a teamwork, and quite a number of people has been arrested.
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