How Drug Abuse is Fuelling Banditry, Terrorism in Northern Nigeria – THISDAY Newspapers
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has confirmed a nexus between banditry, terrorism, kidnapping and other types of violent crimes in Nigeria, especially in the Northern region, to the use of illicit drugs. Recently, the agency started a manhunt for the purveyors of drugs in the region, and the efforts have started yielding results, writes Chinedu Eze
Recently the Director-General of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Buba Marwa confirmed a connection between the use of hard drugs and insurgency, while calling on the National Assembly to halt plans to legalise the use cannabis, many pundits said would yield Nigeria billions of dollars in foreign exchange.
“Insecurity is clearly one of the key challenges, if not the most important challenge at the moment facing us as a nation today. It needs all institutions and all Nigerians to stand up to the occasion and not to leave everything to the security agencies alone. Security is everybody’s business.
“I must take this opportunity to state very, very clearly, that, there is incontrovertible evidence of a linkage between drug use and spate of insecurity. Drugs are a clear propellant to insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and other criminal activities.
“We know that drug money funds their activities. We have arrested quite a few on their way to supply drugs to the insurgents. Since January, the NDLEA has seized over 2000 tonnes and over N90 billion worth of drugs. Consider what a fraction of that will do in support of criminal activities,” Marwa revealed.
Insecurity and Substance Abuse
He also confirmed that the bandits, insurgents, and other criminals use drugs before launching t sayheir nefarious missions and noted that it is a global trait, which is not something that started in Nigeria. The agency had noted that all these criminal attacks being launched on Nigerians in different parts of the country are not unconnected with substances abuse such as cocaine, permoline, tramadol, raphnol, hemp, meth, exol5 and others. So to inspire their dare devilry to operate deadly, and wreck great damage on mankind, these bandits resort to using multiple drugs.
Drug Heist in Katsina
It is Marwa’s encouragement and support that spurred NDLEA officials at different parts of the country to reinforce their fight against drugs use and distribution and recently it paid off in Katsina State. In addition to fighting drugs use and distribution, the agency has also embarked on supporting other security operatives in the zone to achieve synergy of purpose in the fight against insurgency.
In Katsina State, it has become a well known fact that bandits have subjected Malumfashi, Kankara, Safana, Musawa, Matazu, Faskari, Damusa, Sabuwa, Batsari, Jibia Local Government Areas to repeated attacks in the last few months. Bandits, for example, killed three Nigerienne soldiers and abducted four in Jibia Local Government Area of the state on August 16, 2021.
THISDAY learnt that the three soldiers from Niger Republic were murdered in Jibia when they were carrying out trans-border reconnaissance and their vehicle was set ablaze.
The Governor of Katsina State, Bello Masari had lamented severally about the increase in wave of banditry in the state, which has claimed many lives and tasked the security agencies to go after the bandits in order to save the state.
Essentially, NDLEA had noted that the issue of drugs in the state should be addressed adequately and the command has made tremendous efforts in tackling the drug menace in the state, which resulted in the arrest of many suspects with over 212 kilograms of hemp.
To make the war against terrorists effective in the state, the governor and other well-meaning citizens of the state had called those who are desirous of peace and who know these bandits to call them out or provide information that would help the security operatives to apprehend them.
It is to support the war against bandits in the state, coupled with government’s appeals and calls to all security agencies and other state actors to join in the fight against bandits in the state, that NDLEA Katsina Command in August 2021, overpowered and arrested three inter- state bandits; Adamu Shehu, Tukur Abdullahi, and Ibrahim Suleiman- all male, in the early hours of Thursday, August 5, 2021.
The acting State Commander of NDLEA, Katsina, Dr Nnanna Nwolisa, told THISDAY that the command arrested the three suspects with three AK-47 rifles, three live ammunition and three magazines on their way from Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State to Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State.
“Our intelligence revealed that the three bandits belong to terror group/ syndicate that has been terrorising Kaduna, Zamfara and Katsina States in the recent past. Similarly, the group appears to have carried out terror attacks in Kaduna State before they headed for Katsina where they fell into the trap of the command and hands.
“Expended ammunition shells and shards were recovered from them, while the command also intercepted phone calls from the gang’s members. Our preliminary investigation showed that Adamu Shehu is from Kamfanin Zango village, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, and Adamu Shehu is 34 years old who has been into inter-state terror activities along Kaduna- Katsina roads.
“Furthermore, Tukur Abdullahi, 45 years old, is from Dogon Dawa village, Birnin Gwari, Local Government Area of Kaduna State, who also belongs to criminal gang that terrorises Kaduna, Zamfara and Katsina States, while the third bandit, Ibrahim Suleiman, 35 years old, is from Kamfanin Zango village, Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, who also is a deadly bandit whose group has wasted lives and properties along Kaduna- Zamfara- Katsina roads.
“They were all arrested with three AK-47 rifles, ammunition and magazines in a Toyota Corolla car with registration number Kaduna TRK 149 AE while they wanted to launch an attack in Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State,” he told THISDAY.
Nwolisa said the Chairman of NDLEA, Marwa, who was in Gambia when the arrest was made, commended the officers of Katsina State Command for their dedication and commitment in complementing the efforts of sister-security agencies in the fight against terrorism in the state.
Similarly, Governor Bello Masari of Katsina also commended the officers of the command in the fight against banditry and other criminal activities in the state. The governor urged the officers to continue to support the war against insecurity in the state. The Emir of Katsina, His Royal Highness Alhaji Dr Abdulmumini Kabir Usman also praised officers and men of the command in the fight against terrorism and terror activities in the state, while his counterpart in Daura, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Dr Umar Farouq Umar urged the command to continue the good work.
Nwolisa told THISDAY that the three bandits and all the incriminatory items on them had been transferred to the Brigade Commander, 17 Brigade Nigeria Army, and Katsina State for joint investigations.
“The command will continue to play its strategic role in the fight against drug crimes; and at the same time, continues to partner other security agencies to fight terrorism and other terror attacks in the state in particular and Nigeria in general,” he vowed.
Smuggling as Gateway for Funding Criminality
Nwolisa further noted that “Global financial crimes through Internets and computers and other securitised gadgets have caused huge harm to the country’s image locally and internationally; the same way drug trafficking tarnishes the country’s prestige and reputation.
“Drug smuggling has also worsened the economy and security apparatus of Nigeria. Proceeds of illicit drugs are laundered through different economic ventures and business to deceive the public and some are used to fund arms running and other criminal operations.
“Terrorism, proceeds of illicit drugs and drug trafficking are twin- born and twin bred. Criminal activities sweeping across the states in Nigeria are largely triggered by drug usage and addiction.”
He said the waves of violent criminal activities have not spared any part of Nigeria, noting that today many citizens hardly travel for fear of being kidnapped, killed or abducted.
“In the South-east the activities of the unknown gun and killer herdsmen have claimed many lives, and many business activities destroyed. The story in the South-west is not also a pleasant one, as there have been persistent and repeated attacks and kidnapping and killings arising from killer herdsmen and bandits who are under the influence of hard drugs.
“Farms, villages, towns, men and women have suffered severely from these dare-devils and some of the victims of these deadly attacks are women who are often raped. The South-south of Nigeria is also boiling; several attacks have been launched in the areas by the pipeline vandals and militants leading to the destruction of properties, lives, installations, facilities etc,” he said.
He also disclosed that drug smuggling is rampant in the coastal regions, as illicit drugs are smuggled in and out through the coastal routes, adding that as more Nigerians continue to use illicit drugs, it is expected that crimes would be on the increase because under the control of drugs, many young Nigerians would become gullible and could be recruited to engage in all kinds of criminal activities.
Giving the scorecard of the agency last week after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, NDLEA Boss revealed that they seized over N100 billion worth of drugs since his assumption of office, adding that about 1,630 drug dealers have so far been convicted and jailed.
Marwa also revealed that over 4,000 drug addicts were under rehabilitation in various facilities across the country, adding that his agency has embarked on an advocacy programme to discourage youth and teenagers from the ugly trend.
He said: “We have seized drugs worth billions of naira, over 100 billion, those cash has been sent to the CBN and the actual drug themselves we have sought for forfeiture from the courts for destruction. We have jailed 1,630 since January. These criminals, shameless criminals, and murderers who traffic drugs.
“We have counseled and rehabilitated over 4,000 within our NDLEA facilities, the issues of the war against drug abuse cascade down to communities. I briefed the President on the advocacy work that we are doing across the country structures, state level, local government, communities, the role of traditional institution, NGOs, media, what families are expected to do, the school system. The Federal Ministry of Education already is working on curricula, because now kids start taking drugs from primary school. We need to get the root of it.”
There is incontrovertible evidence of a linkage between drug use and spate of insecurity. Drugs are a clear propellant to insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and other criminal activities. We know that drug money funds their activities. We have arrested quite a few on their way to supply drugs to the insurgents
Drug smuggling has also worsened the economy and security apparatus of Nigeria. Proceeds of illicit drugs are laundered through different economic ventures and business to deceive the public and some are used to fund arms running and other criminal operations