Crystal Meth in Igbo land: Addiction, unorthodox method to curb the menace
“‘Mkpuru mmiri’ has posed serious threat in my hometown, Umudioka. Last time my two cousins took this evil drug and chased their mother with machete for three days in the compound. They blocked the entrance from people coming in. My mother had to involve the village Vigilante group who bundled them out. [Many] underaged youths in my community are gradually going insane, some are in chains right now.”, Genevieve Onyinyechi Okonkwo shared on a video thread where a discussion was had about the present menace that is ravaging youths in the south east.
Videos from a handful of communities in the South East which currently litters the internet , show hundreds of youth displaying bizarre signs of mental imbalance – some talking to themselves, others tearing off their clothes , while some stare into space as though watching beings unseen to the ordinary human eye. Communities are beginning to take punitive measures to deter youths from indulging by giving addicts several strokes of cane.
Mr Christian Okoro laments that , “Ebonyi and Anambra claiming here that their mkpuru mmiri matter is the worst because they have not been to my state in Imo. Many guys in Imo are mad right now from It. Government and communities must go after the dealers. Imo , like Anambra, is also flogging them. We discovered there is a factory in Anambra and Enugu States. The communities there should seal it up and arrest the owners because most supplies are coming from there. A lot of our brothers into drug peddling who usually travel to other countries to destroy their youths are now home destroying igbo youths. If any one can be flogged it should be the dealers. I am advocating death for the dealers and the sellers in our land. I will never feel sorry for anyone given life or fifty years in prison or the death penalthy for carrying drugs in asia and other nations. [Those nations] did not want their youths destroyed. Now I know why.”
Crystal Meth is the common name for crystal methamphetamine, a white crystalline substance that is stripping south east youths of their future. It is called ‘ice’ or ‘glass’ but in the streets of igbo land, it is nicked Mkpuru mmiri. A highly addictive drug that affects the central nervous system.
Pharmacological experts posit that drugs, like crystal meth, change the brain in ways that make quitting hard for any who has ever indulged. These drugs floods the brain with excessive dopamine , causing uncontrolled euphoria. It is the same feeling one get when eating, spending time with loved ones or doing things that gives individual fulfilment; though the one of crystal meth is the heightened version. These surges of dopamine cause the reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy behaviors like taking drugs, leading people to repeat the behavior again and again.
A Japanese chemist first synthesized methamphetamine from another stimulant, ephedrine, in 1893. In 1919, another Japanese chemist, Akira Ogata, streamlined the process to make repeated productions possible. This drug was used during world war II to keep troops awake, enhance endurance and ward off fatigues from long campaigns. Japanese factory workers also used it to enable them work longer hours. In some cases, it was reportedly used as a medical treatment for asthma, narcolepsy and weight loss. This was long before it found its way mainstream as a recreational drug. In 1970, the US outlawed its usage in their country.
In South East Nigeria, crystal meth abuse is relatively high compared to other parts of the country. From 2011 to 2017, a whooping 1.3 tonnes have been seized and over 20 factories dismantled. According to ENACT Observer report in 2016, a clandestine meth lab which had a production capacity of 4,000kg was dismantled. Some Nigerian drug syndicates brought in Latin American drug experts to help them set up large scale meth labs because the precursor chemicals such as ephedrine is widely available in Nigeria. When NDLEA raided the site in March 2016, they arrested four Mexicans and five Nigerians.
“While a portion of the meth produced in Nigeria is consumed locally, most is reportedly exported to South Africa where 1kg of meth sells for up to 10,000euros. It is also trafficked to South East Asia , in particular , Japan where 1kg can reportedly fetch 130,000euros.”
As it is, illegal drug cartels in Nigeria are finding it harder to export their trades to South Africa, Asia and Southern America , so they are utilizing the available option of plying their trades in the poor streets of Nigeria. From 2004 to 2018, unverified records put Nigerians executed for drug trafficking in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand at 241. In October 2021 alone, 21 drug traffickers have been arrested and over 2,060kg intercepted.
The cankerworm is eating deep, with attendant consequences such as increased crime rates . youths steal to maintain the habit. Some who had jobs are now unemployed because addiction had made them unproductive and redundant in their places of work. A handful of these addicts are now mentally unstable with no equipped rehabilitation centre to handle their cases. But Communities in the south east are beginning to employ punitive measures in curbing the menace.
In Oba, Anambra state, the Youth heads got to a conclusion to flog dealers and users of the drug 500 strokes of cane when caught. According to them, the cost of sending them to rehabilitation homes are high , so they resort to flogging to put fear in the addicts. Members of youth bodies go with their motorcycles in search of addicts in uncompleted buildings and farms. These addicts are caught and tied to a pole , then flogged mercilessly.
Umuodika town union recently issued a circular to the effect that any youth, indigene or not living in the community, who uses crystal meth in any form will not be spared, no matter how highly placed. Their own method of ensuring compliance is by flogging the addicts too.
Sources say communities in Imo, Ebonyi and Abia have deployed the ‘flogging approach’ on dealers and users of crystal meth found in their locale.
South East leaders and governors now have a lot on their plates. Unknown gun men, rising insecurity and the present mkpuru mmiri menace. Flogging addicts may be inimical. What they need is professional psychological and therapeutic care from experts.