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How drugs fuel terrorism in Nigeria’s north east

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Boko Haram’s heavy use of Tramadol to drug its fighters is one of the main reasons the war in Nigeria’s North East is still ravaging. Their frequent use and abuse of the opioid some believe account for the ruthlessness of certain attacks especially the ones carried out against innocent civilians.

And pointing fingers to tramadol as a catalyst for the raging insurgency in the north east is the Chairman and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency NDLEA, Muhammad Abdallah.

Hear Abdallah speak; “The Government of India has up its ante; they have now put more control on the supply of tramadol to Nigeria.

“Tramadol, if I will explain a little bit more, for normal medicinal dosage is between 50mg and 100mg. But the ones we have seen in Nigeria range from 200mg to like 500mg. Even a horse will be deadbeat by the time it takes that.

“But that is what Nigerians have been taking. That is what fuels insurgency in the North-East. Because Theatre Commandants have testified to me that every Boko Haram camp they have overrun, they found paraphernalia of drug abuse particularly tramadol.”

According to the NDLEA boss, the whole average of drug abuse in nations in 5%. In Nigeria, it is getting to 15%, which is not a data or a statistic anyone should be happy with.

On why the agency is recording the needed success in mitigating the sale, consumption and abuse of the drugs even among non armed youths across the country, Abdallah highlighted manpower as a major challenge.

“On the part of the government, it has taken some steps to ameliorate some of the deficiencies of the agency. For a start, Mr President has authorised an upgrade on the staff strength of the agency.

“A staff strength of 5,000 without being told is not a staff strength that can fight drugs the way it should be fought in Nigeria. Let me just mention three local governments – you know Mushin in Lagos, you know Fagge in Kano or even Nyanya in Abuja.

“I could deploy all of that strength to these places including me and there will still be some loopholes for trafficking and abuse to go on. That is why the President has approved the upgrade in phases. Following this will be logistics and equipment which come naturally with the upgrade of personnel.”

The government at the moment is reluctant to out rightly ban Tramadol given its legitimate usage as a painkiller, but it has had some success in detecting and seizing illegal shipments of the drug.

In response, though, criminal gangs continue to devise new ways of beating security checks and find new smuggling routes, some of which are partly controlled by Boko Haram.

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