Narcoterrorism in the Nigerian Street Context

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Patrick Iwelunmor

The activities of illicit drug peddlers on Nigerian streets should be a matter of serious concern to our government, not only at the local level but also at the federal level. One must commend the tireless efforts of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) which has taken the fight against illicit drug peddlers to almost every nook and cranny of the country.

According to Wikipedia, “Narcoterrorism, in its original context, is understood to refer to the attempts of narcotics traffickers to influence the policies of a government or a society through violence and intimidation, and to hinder the enforcement of anti-drug laws by the systematic threat or use of such violence.”

In the city of Lagos, Nigeria, there are many streets that have become notorious for drug peddling and violence. These streets are populated by young men and women who consume hard drugs, especially marijuana, Colorado, ice and SK. The truth is that these young people are emboldened by the fact that the communities in which they live fear them because of their propensity to unleash mayhem at the slightest provocation.

Many of them argue that they are frustrated hustlers who no longer have any hope in the government. They believe that government has failed them and that the only way they can make a living is to peddle illicit drugs among their peers. Whenever there is a threat to their business from government quarters, they usually respond with other acts of violence to serve as a warning to the authorities to desist from harassing them.

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On some of these Lagos streets, there are covert smoking cells where people gather to smoke marijuana in groups. These groups are usually united and can fight a common cause together. Some of the cases of rape, as well as phone and bag snatching that take place on the streets, are actually responses from these groups. They are always trying to make a statement with their actions.

One of the reasons the concept of narcoterrorism has become complicated is that we often look at it from a higher perspective, thinking that only the big and international drug cartels pose the major threats. Unfortunately, with rising unemployment, many youths have ventured into the business of drug peddling in miniature scales. The fact that they are itinerant in their modus operandi should bother any right thinking government. Many undergraduates on Nigerian campuses peddle marijuana and other illicit substances and are known to be the best friends to members of different campus confraternities. There is no cult killing in Nigeria that is not connected to the consumption of one hard drug or the other.

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It is therefore pertinent to note that, in deconstructing the behavioural psychology of young drug users, one must put into consideration their social and, if possible, educational status. Most Nigerian undergraduates easily find themselves in the vicious mix of drug-related activities, largely because some of them have not fully jettisoned the excesses that come with adolescence. They are usually hyper-curious and always willing to explore new realities, not minding the consequences. Peer pressure also plays a very significant role in shaping the behaviour of these young drug users who eventually grow into adults and constitute a serious menace to the society.

As stated earlier, most of the cases of street theft, rape and snatching of phones, purses and handbags have their origins in the minds of young people who are high on hard drugs, such as marijuana and other street-side narcotics. And while the war against drug abuse at this level concerns all levels of government, the greater onus lies on the local government which deals directly with the grassroots. In Lagos, the LCDA (Local Council Development Authority) system has proven to be very effective in curbing and controlling the excesses of drug peddlers and their customers.

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Being that the LCDA is usually made up of landlords and their tenants, so many criminal activities have been brought to an end through the efforts and strategies put in place by some LCDAs. In many of these communities, landlords have risen to the occasion in the fight against drug peddling because they have discovered that their own children are at risk of being influenced. In fact, some of them have been shocked to find out that their wards are already drug addicts and so, they have joined the fight against the menace of street drug peddling.

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