Tackling the Burgeoning Drug Addiction in Katsina

Francis Sardauna writes that the alarming rate of drug abuse in Katsina State, especially among married women, young girls and students, has burgeoned into a critical economic, social and physiological crisis, which if unchecked, portends grave danger to the society at large
The recent wave of drug addiction that has pervaded Nigeria, with dominance mostly in the North and some parts of the West has tipped the nation into a boiling conundrum. The reason is not far-fetched. Recent discreet investigation by THISDAY has revealed that married women and youths in Katsina State often abuse cough syrups, Indian hemp and off-the-counter drugs like rophynol, tramadol, diazepam and lexotan, which are controlled drugs that should only be sold 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.
Apart from drugs, there are those who engage in sniffing open sewage or pit latrine in order to get high for their nefarious activities. However, this is mostly common among illiterate commercial tricycle drivers, motorcyclists and others doing menial jobs in the city of Katsina.
Target on Women
Some beer parlours in the market also have stocks of codeine syrup for female customers. The syrup is not displayed on shelves, but served on request. Single and married women in the state are often seen in the streets of Kofar-Kwaya, Kofar-Marusa, Sabon Gari, Kofar-Kaura, Kofar-Durbi, Fadama Motel’s Junction and Blue House at night, from 9.00 p.m. till early hours of the morning, frolicking with bottles of soft drinks mixed with bottles of codeine. Those who live in conservative parts of the city send children or friends to buy the drugs for them. Usually they start buying from 6.00 p.m. until about 9.00 or 10.00 p.m, when most shops would have closed.
However, findings indicate that married women resolve to take such illicit  drugs in order to improve their libido and sexually satisfy their husbands, so that the husbands will not look outside at other women.
Others however said the reason was to “cool tension”, while they were yet others who admitted that the only remedy that could pave the way for them to forget their sorrow, lamentation and worries was to take  drugs.
A married woman who gave her name as Aishatu Bakori said: “Every day, I take tontolin syrup to make me forget my worries and in the process, the urge to have sex with my husband take over my feelings. I will not be done until I get what I want”. Bakori maintained that other married women in her area also take drugs to enhance their sexual urges.
This view was corroborated by a chemist who pleaded anonymity. He told THISDAY that his sales often triple on weekends because most of those who come to his chemist are young ladies and married women.
According to him, “They will come and buy Benylin cough syrup, tontolin and so on including condoms. Some of the married women do buy in bulk in order to sell it to their friends at home”.
The consequence of this menance in the state has been terrible as findings revealed that drug abuse has led to unwanted pregnancies, adultery, kidnapping and burglary, as well as  broken homes.
Kamilu Usman Yusuf, who recently divorced his wife on account of excessive consumption of cough syrup, but would not want her name in print, said his former wife was addicted to drugs and other substance.
He said: “I divorced her because she drinks codeine and sells to some women and young girls everyday. Sadly, some security personnel also patronise her. This act contravenes Islam and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad and that is why I sent her packing.
“I will not deceive the public. The abuse of drugs by married women is indeed increasing. We are seeing more women now getting involved in drugs.
To be sincere with you, at some joints like Blue House, Fadama Motels, Gommad, and other hiding places in Katsina, you can find these women and ladies taking drugs as if they are taking normal food”.
A young girl, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, confessed that she belonged to a group of girls hooked on codeine. Although she admitted knowing that abusing such drugs were not good for her health, she added that she has not been able to stop it.
“I know codeine is not good but I want to leave it gradually, not at once. I tried it in the past and it affected me. I could not eat or sleep and I was always angry,” she disclosed. She further stated that she is trying to reduce her codeine consumption to a bottle or two per day, in the hope that “one day I will stop”.
Worried by the situation, wife of the Katsina State Governor, Hajia (Dr.) Hadiza Bello Masari, recently flagged off schools sensitisation programme against drugs and substance abuse in the state. The programme, which was launched through her pet project, ‘Centre for the Advancement of Mothers and Children in Katsina, was aimed at averting drug abuse in the state.
Speaking during the flag off of the programme at Government Girls’ Science Secondary School, Daudawa, Faskari Local Government Area of the state, she said studies indicate that drug addiction is threatening a generation of women and youths, adding that substances that were once unknown have acquired notoriety among the women, who now put them to negative use.
She described the issue of drug abuse as a heinous crime which breaks her heart, adding that parents must ensure that their children who are entrusted to them by God are safe from people with questionable characters.
Masari said, “Prevention is always better than cure, therefore, we encourage that seminars should always be organised in schools, places of worship and community gatherings to enlighten the public on dangers of drug abuse.
“We have established rehabilitation centers for our affected youths and women. We engage them with empowerment programmes to make them useful to themselves and society at large. We trained about 32 persons and today we will give them certificates.”
She noted that divorce, breakdown of family norms, unemployment as well as availability of all forms of drug over the country, are some of the factors responsible for drug abuse and rape in the society.
The governor’s wife further urged religious leaders to join in the crusade against child molestation and  drug abuse among married women, which she said has become a great threat to many families in the state.
Appeal to Traditional Rulers
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of  the Centre and State Chief Judge, Justice Musa Danladi Abubakar, called on traditional rulers and other stakeholders to intensify efforts towards addressing the scenario in the state.
While apportioning the spate of rape, kidnapping and other criminal activities on drug abuse, Abubakar said the judiciary would not relent in it quest of tackling all forms of criminality in the state through speedy dispensation of Justice.
Charge to Parents 
Earlier, the state Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Dr. Badiyya Hassan Mashi, who was overwhelmed by the initiative, charged parents to take the campaign against drug abuse and addiction serious in order to nip in the bud the predicaments bedeviling children in the country.
Efforts by Police
Meanwhile, the Katsina State Police Command under the watch of CP Muhammad Wakili must be applauded for apprehending and prosecuting no fewer than 100 persons across the state for drug related offences.
A recent example is the arrest of a 30-year-old father of five, Nura Aliyu, who was in his blue Honda Civic car, Kaduna Registration Number :AQ 475 DKA, loaded with 300 bottles of codeine and several empty cartons.
Police said Aliyu of Tsohuwar Tasha, Katsina, was picked up along Senator Abba Ali road by Mohammed Dikko Stadium in Katsina. Spokesman of the Command, SP Gambo Isah who confirmed the arrest, put the monetary value of the drug at N1.5 million.
Parading the suspect before newsmen,  Isah said: “The Katsina State Police Command wishes to inform the general public that it has succeeded in arresting a notorious suspect who specialises in drug trafficking.
“Police patrol team attached to CP’s Surveillance Squad, Katsina while on routine patrol along Senator Abba Ali Road by Mohd Dikko Stadium, Katsina intercepted a motor vehicle Honda Civic, dark in colour, covered with tinted glasses, with registration AQ 475 DKA loaded with 300 bottles of cough syrup suspected to be codeine, driven by one Nura Aliyu ‘m’ of Tsohuwar Tasha, Katsina.
“Suspect confessed to have been in the business of drug trafficking distributing to other members of his drug syndicate and consumers alike. Suspect will be arraigned in court immediately after investigation is completed”.
Aliyu told THISDAY in an interview that the urge to make ends meet pushed him to the business. He said “I have two wives and five children and I have to fend for them. But I am beginning to regret my action now as I see you people with your recorders and television cameras.”
Asides the police, another agency combating the menace of drug abuse is the National Drug and Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). The NDLEA, established by Decree 48 of 1989 (now CAP N30 LFN 2004), is an agency charged with the mandate of eradicating illicit trafficking and use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
NDLEA in the state of recent arrested a total of 186 persons between January and March 2018 for drug related offences. The command also impounded a trailer loaded with 24,000 bottles of coup syrup containing codeine in Funtua Local Government Area of the state.
Despite this achievements, it has been difficult to completely arrest those behind the sales of these illicit drugs and drinks. It’s been a major challenge to eradicate the menace in Katsina because some security men have also allegedly joined those who patronise the joints where it is sold.

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