Nigeria: How Kano Drug War Lost Control and Danger That Now Looms

It was a war that was meant to be won. The soldiers of the war came from many fronts: state and Federal Government officials moved with full determination with the support of law enforcement agencies to clean up the mess that has often soiled the image of the state from all the nooks and crannies of Kano and its environs.

That was the expectation of the people of the ancient city, who had been subjected to the adverse effects of drug use and abuse and given a rough time by the perpetrators of the illicit business in the process.

People were excited and hopeful that at the end of the drug war, which had been launched on multiple fronts, Kano, the leading city in Nigeria’s North-Western region, would be given a clean bill of health in the operation to rid the town of drug peddlers and users. But many years of fighting the drug war and dealers have merely elevated the illicit trade to a monstrous menace and heightened the atrocities of masterminds of drug-related crimes across the state and its environs. This is no thanks to the insincerity of the drivers of the onslaught and the perpetrators.

Although nobody has been pinned down as the real culprit of the toxic drug peddling and consumption that flourish in Kano like a rising sun, suspicion is rife that those involved in drug abuse in the state are equally engaging in counter methods to make the battle against it look hopeless despite what is invested in it. As the fight against drug abuse and peddling intensifies in Kano, one major concern has been the sincerity and honesty of the soldiers in the war. Concerns were raised recently when a young lady known to be peddling drugs in a specific area of Sabon Gari in Kano was arrested by officials who openly displayed her on television as a drug peddler with some of the drugs for which she was arrested, and how she was quickly let go and returned to the business a day or two after her parade.

Although she is well known to be dealing illicit drugs and is patronised by women of easy virtue, political thugs and other criminally-minded elements, she is also known to be enjoying some protection given her closeness with some powerful and influential persons, who ensure that any time she is arrested, she gets immediate release from the law. Many of these individuals permeate the length and breadth of the state and become a setback to the war against illicit drug consumption and sale.

Allegations of incidences like these are rampant, and the public is concerned that the authorities do not promptly investigate such situations where officials compromise their status and allow known suspects to get away with their crimes. More so, it is generally believed by members of the public that the authorities, the securities, and the agencies involved in fighting against drug abuse know all the spots and points of the crime, but yet nothing is being done to the perpetrators. It is common knowledge to the public that part of the remunerations given to political thugs during rallies and campaigns include illicit drugs which they use to get ‘high’ and engage in violence on demand by those who employ their services.

But the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, has stated that there are about two million drug addicts in Kano, which is similar to having at least one drug addict for every six people in the state. Alarmed by the widespread abuse in the state, the NDLEA has moved into action to stem the tide of the menace and give the society a new lease on life. According to the Public Relations Officer of the NDLEA in Kano, Abubakar Idris, the agency is adopting three methods in its fight against drug abuse in the state. These include supply reduction, prosecution, and demand reduction.

“Constitutionally, we have three roles in the drug war in Nigeria. There is supply reduction, which involves arresting those who make the drug available in society. This includes apprehending the dealers as well as seizing and confiscating the drugs. We call that aspect supply reduction. We have achieved a lot in this aspect by seizing tonnes and tonnes of illicit drugs in Kano. We also arrested a large number of people involved in that. The second aspect that complements supply reduction is prosecution.

Those who are arrested are taken to court. We have been able to secure a lot of convictions this year. We even had a landmark conviction where a renowned drug peddler was sentenced to life in prison. The third aspect is demand reduction. This is where we create awareness about the dangers of drug abuse so that they will not have to use it. As a result, for those who are already using, we provide rehabilitation and counselling services to keep them away from drug abuse,” he explained.

On their part, the Police Public Relations Officer of the Kano Police Command, DSP Abdullahi Haruna Kiyawa, has confirmed the involvement of drugs in the activities of thugs in the state. He said that about 40 percent of crimes committed in the state are related to drug abuse. Haruna noted, “Section 4 of the Police Act 2020 is very clear. The duties of the police are to protect lives and property. Of course, while conducting these duties, we fight crimes, and these drugs are associated with crimes.

In Kano State, we have 44 local government areas, and where we have these issues of drug-related crimes is within the eight metropolitan local government areas. The cops, on the other hand, have been doing so well. As I told you, the majority of those abusing these drugs are “thugs). These thugs are in the habit of abusing drugs before going out to commit their heinous crimes.

“So far, so good, We can say we are on top of the situation because at the beginning of the year 2022, there were a lot of reports of these crimes of thuggery, drug abuse, and mobile handset robbery. The police implemented strategies, and so far, so good; within a year, these crimes had significantly decreased. A lot of successes have been achieved, and of course fighting drug abuse has led to a reduction in these crimes.”

Drug abuse in Kano has led to the prevalence of various crimes that include, among others, political thuggery, armed robbery, rape, sexual assault, and moral nuisance. What is worse is how more women are involved in the abuse of drugs, especially cough syrups. For example, there are rampant cases of people being attacked and their phones snatched by criminals. Some victims have lost their lives as a result. A man recently lost his cousin, who was married with two kids, when he was stabbed on the neck by phone snatchers and died instantly. All these are done under the influence of hard drugs.

The drug situation is so bad that the State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, once described Kano as vulnerable to drug abuse due to its large population, access to various states in the country through road, rail, and air that attract all types of people as the commercial nerve centre of northern Nigeria. Will this realization, however, lead to a more drastic response to the drug war and provide some relief to the citizens?

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