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MKPURU-MMIRI: Surge of a deadly drug

Mkpuru-mmiri sounds like ice cubes, but not one. It’s the new craze in town, wreaking havoc and maiming the youth, especially in the Southeast. The illicit drug has thus far left in its trail gory tales that is giving many sleepless nights. Our Southeast correspondents, Steve Uzoechi, Emmanuel Ifeanyi, Okey Maduforo, and Uchenna Inya, who have been following the trend, report

A menace has slammed itself into the atmosphere of Nigeria. It is a horrific plague in the country’s public space. It is not only a veritable issue of concern; it’s a grave development that has the potential to blur Nigeria’s future. The fear is palpable. This fear was made manifest on October 19, when a boy reportedly killed his father in Adazi Ani in Anambra State and took the father’s N50, 000 to buy mkpuru-mmiri. He tried to escape but was not very lucky as youths of the community apprehended and allegedly beat him to stupor. Some unconfirmed account even said he was burnt alive. However, Adazi youths are not alone on this.

Similar incidents are currently being replicated all over Southeastern part of the country. For instance, another young man reportedly died also in a neighbouring community to Adazi as a result of debilitating effects of mkpuru- mmiri. In Umudioka, also in Anambra State, two siblings, after taking the drug, allegedly chased their mother with machetes and prevented the woman from coming to the family house for three days until the village vigilante officials intervened. Also in Agulu, in Anaocha Local Government Area, a young girl was said to have rammed into a moving vehicle but was lucky to have survived the accident.

After thorough scrutiny, the incident was traced to the same chemical drug substance, which, in recent times, has sentenced many youths and teenagers in the region to perpetual mental slavery. Aside those mentioned, numerous trending videos on social media platforms from different communities in Igbo land of young men, and in some cases, women and under-aged, being tied to beams and trees at public squares, beaten mercilessly for dealing in and taking mkpuru-mmiri. These are sad stories of a people whose future generations are going insane, in some instances, have completely gone mad after drug use and abuse.

In the last four months, this drug has taken over the position of Arizona brand of narcotics, which is a combination of cannabis and some chemicals that has a higher effect than Indian hemp. But, before Arizona, was Laud, which equally was attractive to the youth. Arizona and Laud are hard drugs like mkpuru-mmiri, which causes memory lost, and an advanced form of dementia to the users. The lost for mkpuru-mmiri has some-how become a nagging issue and has assumed a disturbing phenomenon, particularly as heavy long canes meant for redirecting misbehaving cows have now become items for correcting humans, especially the youth in the society. Mkpuru-mmiri is slang, coined from the Igbo language, which is loosely translated as ‘seed of water’ or ‘ice cube’. But, in reality, it is a crystal narcotic hallucinogen, medically known as Methamphetamine or by its street name Crystal Meth.

It is said to have a chalklike crystal form and can sometimes be blue hence the name “mkpuru-mmiri”. It is said to be a man-made drug developed during World War II, used by soldiers to stay awake or carry out dangerous suicidal missions. But, because of its addictive nature, just like another chemically similar drug, amphetamine, used to treat Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, a sleep disorder, highly regulated and only available by prescription.

According to WebMD, crystal meth or mkpuru-mmiri can cause a spike in a person’s body temperature that they could pass out or even die. The substance, according to medics, can also lead to anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood swings, and violent behaviour from the user. A user’s looks, they also say, can change dramatically from ageing quickly, to dull skin. They can also develop hard-to-heal sores and pimples and may have a dry mouth and stained, broken, or rotting teeth.

A person addicted to the drug, according to reports may also become paranoid and start hallucinating. They could also think of hurting themselves or others and may feel as though insects are crawling on or under their skin. Even though the source of the substance is yet to be fully ascertained, many believe it may have come from the northern part of the country while others say it was brought in from South Africa.

Findings have revealed that since mkpuru-mmiri became a popular drug in the villages and towns in most eastern states, there have been increased reports of unbelievable violence and behavioural patterns that are alien to the people hence, the decision to take the physical battle to the users and peddlers.

From Idemili North and South Local Government Areas, Nnewi North and South, Aguata, Ekwusigo, Ogbaru and Ihiala all in Anambra State to Orsu, Orlu, Oru West, Oguta, Oru East, Njaba, Ideato North and South in Imo State, the fight against mkpuru-mmiri is intense, though not much in terms of yielding the desired results.

David Anya, Special Adviser to the Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, on Drugs and Narcotics, sees mkpuru-mmiri as a pandemic and appealed that all hands must be on deck to fight the cancan worm to a standstill. Anya, who described drug abuse as the “mother of all violent crimes in society” said that the fight against mkpuru-mmiri and other related drugs is tantamount to a fight against kidnapping, assassination, rape, and armed robbery.

He said: “If we must get adequate security in this country, we must fight the war against hard drugs with seriousness. If you check countries like Colombia, Jamaica and Mexico, no wars are going on in those countries but their homicide rate is high if not higher than Syria where there’s an obvious war.

This is because the drug war there is not as serious as it ought to be. There’s no country, community or society that have drugs in their environment that can have peace. It is not possible. All these terrorists like Boko Haram also use drugs.

“Nobody can stay in the bush without having remorse or running back to their homes. It is the drugs that they make use of that makes them feel like staying in the bush for many months like animals. If we want to get a crimefree society we must consider the fight against hard drugs first. “Without fighting hard drugs, we’re wasting our time-fighting crime. When we fight hard drugs, the crime rate will reduce. Countries with serious laws against drug peddling are very peaceful and calm countries.”

Anya believes that mkpuru-mmiri is attractive to the youth because of the stage they are in life when whatever they are told or exposed to call for an experiment. He also said that mkpuru- mmiri is rampant in the streets and villages now because of the secretive nature of drug peddling and technique used by the peddlers, which, according to him, needs serious funding to enable all stakeholders to combat such. “It’s called experimental, someone telling you about something often and you want to try it and once you try it, you will be hooked because drugs are addictive.

Drug peddling is the most secretive illicit business in the world; therefore it can be smuggled into any remote and urban areas. “The peddlers are very smart to identify where to trade on it and get buyers easily. Once they capture a youth, oth-ers will join.

It’s very addictive. The users can’t help themselves or refrain from it. The active ingredients or substances in these drugs are very addictive, making it possible that the users must need more and more.” A community leader from Mgbidi, Oru West Local Government Area of Imo State, Chief Nduka Ejimofor, said that since he was born, he has never seen anything cause the negative effect on young people in his community as mkpuru-mmiri. Pa Ejimofor described the situation as foreign madness that calls for drastic local solutions. He urged youth leaders in the area to go beyond flogging, stressing that severe punishment is needed more for the peddlers either through local laws or through spiritual inheritance. “The last time we discussed as elders, I told them clearly that we cannot continue to fold our arms and watch our children die because of what they were given to eat.

Yes, they were the ones that bought it, but someone sold it to them. We have our norms and laws here. We can start by pronouncing banishment for all the peddlers from our community. “When we banish them, according to our customs, we use our masquerade cult system to lay an irrevocable curse on such people that will forever reign in their generation anywhere they find themselves. We have a tradition here and if the current leaders will go back to our customs and traditions and stop all these deceits, you’ll see how this evil will stop. “Who are those selling it? Are they strangers or our people? If they’re strangers just as we have solutions for our people, we also have solutions for strangers.

We can make this land uncomfortable for them. The problem is that we’ve lost our root and we’re in trouble trying to solve problems we al- ready know the solution with much stress because some people said our way is against their faiths,” he said. As the deadly narcotic drug sentences over two hundred youths in the South East to the world of mental disorder and death, the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, has commenced the process of finding an antidote to it. To this end, the university is seeking for the sum of N25 million for the research and training of over one hundred and twenty students from the first degree level to Post-graduate. The research, which has commenced at the Department Of Psychology, is being carried out with a particular foreign rat known as Westar Rat, which, according to scientists, is the closest to humans in the reaction to the dreaded drugs.

The Head, Research Unit of the department, Rev. Fr. Dr. Cyracus Ajelu, said: “The research is part of the training for our students and some of them are at the Master’s Degree level, while others are at the Doctorate Degree stage, and we also have second year students taking courses from that research at the preliminary stage.” Meanwhile, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has described Imo State as home to the highest incidents of substance abuse in the entire Southern Nigeria.

This was contained in a paper presented by the Commander of Narcotics in the Imo State command of the agency, Olugu Kalu Chinyere, during the 2021 Pharmacy Week of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN). The paper, which solicited strategic partnership between pharmacists in Imo State and the NDLEA command in the state, regretted that drug lords have brought “the drug war to our door steps”. While lamenting the lapses in the supervision and regulation of these drugs and substances, the agency decried the absence of vital, self-regulating mechanism among stakeholders in the value chain. Olugu pointed out that a recent report by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) noted that Methamphetamine (mkpuru-mmiri) production in West Africa is of growing concern to the authorities.

She added that Nigeria featured prominently in some of the reports with the Southeastern states as major sources of Methamphetamine production The paper reads: “To substantiate the reports, NDLEA Imo State Command has identified and countered illegal diversion of Ephedrine Hydrochloride, which is a precursor substance under international legislative control.

In the last few years too, we have uncovered and neutralised clandestine laboratories, all sited within the state. This shows that the drug war is already at our door steps. “In a similar vein, it is important to note that substance abuse, especially by youths, is higher in Imo State when compared to other Southern states.”

However, sociological survey has shown that most addicts are coming from poor background occasioned by unemployment, and shattered dreams. Chukwuma Ngonadi, who was once a drug addict, told one of our reporters that he took to drugs as a means to escape from his frustrations having tried for years to secure a paying job and fail.

He said: “You don’t seem to understand what it is like to be jobless and your parents are looking up to you for assistance and you cannot do anything about it. Every little thing you do they referrer you to your mates, who are doing well and supporting their parents, and you loose your self-esteem and even the drive to look for work.

“So you take to drugs and the more you try to stop the more the urge to get higher and at some point drugs could not solve the problem. Usually, it’s friends that lure one into it and gradually but steadily it becomes the only thing that can keep one away from so much thinking at night and if I don’t take it I cannot sleep at night. “But it has a side effect, which is that it may make you not to have appetite. Once you are addicted, it becomes difficult to come out of it. I was lucky and God helped me to quit drugs.”

The National Coordinator of Police Campaign Against Cultism and other Vices (POCACOV), CSP Ebere Amaraizu, said that mkpuru-mmiri was already destroying the future and destinies of young minds within the eastern zone. Amaraizu said there was a need for strong stakeholders and agencies partnership towards resolving the issue of substance and drug abuse, especially the dreaded mkpurumiri substance pervading the entire region. According to him, young minds’ involvement in substance and drug abuse is a dangerous trend capable of spelling doom for the future of society. He said: “The substance known as mkpuru-mmiri is known to be dangerous and has caused negative health and psychological challenges to some teeming youths that would have contributed their quota to the development of the society.

There is no reason to justify substance and drug abuse and that of mkpuru-mmiri among our young minds in the country, especially in the South-East. “There is a need for strong stakeholders and multi-agency approach and support to discourage the dreaded and hydra-headed monster before the future of youths who are leaders of tomorrow are devastated and ruined.” He added that the growing trend was unacceptable, saying that the Nigeria Police through the instrumentality of POCACOV is involved in the ongoing community-to-community sensitisation against drug and substance abuse.

“We are calling on community-based groups such as traditional rulers, town union presidents, youth-based groups, faith-based organisations, and the media to join in raising the awareness to discourage those in the production of this noxious substance – mkpuru-mmiri and others.

We advocate for relevant legislation to give effect to the process that will help to stop the negative growing trend,” he said. The Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Echeng Echeng, also said the campaign became necessary to dissuade youths in rural communities from the possession and intake of dangerous substances detrimental to them especially with the recent crave for consumption of methamphetamine otherwise referred to as mkpuru-mmiri in local parlance by youngsters. Echeng, who spoke with one of our correspondents through the Police Public Relations Officer of the command, DSP Ikenga Tochukwu, explained that drugs are the oxygen that drives most crimes and bad behaviours exhibited by individuals.

 

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