FEATURE: This community is losing its youth to drugs



Mallam Sani’s situation can be understood best in the fact that it is not his real name.

His real name has to be kept secret, or else he will pay dearly.

He is a tsangaya school teacher, confined to teaching his students sent to him from various communities in what looks like a veranda; and thus supposed to be away from troubles.

That was everything but.

Seated at the frontage of his tsangaya—a local school system, which is a ‘hang-over’ of a precolonial tradition in Africa—Mallam Sani was shocked to have heard his name called out from the back of a patrol van belonging to National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.

Ordinarily, he had no business whatsoever with law enforcement agencies, especially those involved in drugs.

But here is someone rounded up by them, calling out his name.

That someone had ‘exhibits’, which is a word common to drug culture, meaning any hard substance found in a suspect—on account of which drug agencies make arrests.

It is therefore very popular word in Bulumkutu, behind Kasuwan Yan Nono, (Hausa, meaning: a market for fresh milk) which is one of the most dangerous black spots in metropolitan Borno, spanning both Maiduguri and Jere local governments.

And that someone was his student, who he had lost to a cartel—a cartel of smokers and drug addicts.

The dilemma of parents

The dilemma of Mallam Sani, is shared by every parent in the community.

The cartel is preying on young men and women, to initiate into their smoke and drug culture.

Cartels operate on the back of their ability to initiate, and sustaining their initiates in the culture.

They are perfecting that in the community.

Our reporters’ experience

Two of our reporters reported having been nearly overwhelmed by the spontaneity with which smoke goes up in the area, while filing this report.

It was coming from a cocktail of marijuana, shisha, cigarette and other concoctions none of them could tell.

They were young men and women, wearing ‘clumsy’ hairstyles and dressed shabbily.

Their eyes have gone reddish, which was one of the reasons these reporters were skeptical about disclosing Mallam Sani’s real identity.

They live in between sobriety and tipsiness, as the mindlessly puff from a paper piper; and thus have potential for any form of aggression and crime.

Sale of drugs going on openly

Sales of whatever these were are going on with such reckless abandon as if it were legal.

Policemen and soldiers, in uniform, were there; but not to apprehend anyone.

They were there to get high.

The real danger The danger, our reporters say, is that young people would grow up believing it is a proper conduct—all okay to smoke Indian hemp.

State action still needed

The Borno State Government built street-side kiosks in 2019, but rather than empowering the people economically, which it did, it became a hideout for drug addicts ever since.

With demolition of similar black spots and crackdown on cartels by the government, the place was to become one of their new ‘refuge’.

'They spoil all our children and we are now at the risk of losing them to drug abuse, cartel, immorality and criminality,' a resident, whose identity we are also withholding, told our reporters.

'Most of them are our children and younger ones,' a member of a Layin Makaranta community, which is immediately next to the spot, said.

Another resident, who has lived for 40 years in Lungun Amana, another adjoining community to the spot, said ‘the smell from marijuana has become normal one in our houses; the flames and smokes of marijuana, cigarette have also become normal to our younger ones.

‘I stopped taking anything outsides my house, we are not safe at all, we are like captives here,’ he said.

‘When security men come for patrol, they chase the suspects as far as into our bedrooms.

‘There was a time the security men chased one of the notorious drug dealer from his spot, this man ran into my mother’s room.

They cartels are ‘connected’ ‘They have their leaders and those who are supporting them.

‘Whenever they get caught, just give them some days, they will be back in few days doing the same business.

‘We are in dire need of help from the government,' he explained.

Action taken by the community

In the past, members of the community reported the incident to Bulumkutu Police Station, a division of police in the state.

They acknowledged that one of the past divisional police officers, cleared their initial spot, which used to be directly opposite the Kasuwan Yan Nono.

The police was credited with destroying all their kiosks, benches and seats—with policemen constantly manning the area.

But they relocated, especially seeing that the particular DPO was redeployed, members of the community explained.

They are now pleading with the government to intervene ‘before they drag all our young boys and girls into it.'

Appeal for support

Conflict Reporting is dangerous and risky. Our reporters constantly face life-threatening challenges, sometimes surviving ambushes, kidnap attempts and attacks by the whiskers as they travel and go into communities to get authentic and firsthand information. But we dare it every day, nonetheless, in order to keep you informed of the true situation of the victims, the trends in the conflicts and ultimately help in peace building processes. But these come at huge cost to us. We are therefore appealing to you to help our cause by donating to us through any of the following means. You can also donate working tools, which are even more primary to our work. We thank you sincerely as you help our cause.

Alternatively, you can also email us on info@yen.ng or message us
via +234 803 931 7767