In this report, Martin Tachio, an Abuja based journalist and good governance enthusiast, visited Karu Abattoir and captured how it is turning into an emerging hub for hard drugs
The karu abattoir established to meet the meat demand of Abuja residents unfortunately, is fast emerging as a hub for all kinds of banned substances in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The abattoir was built over 30 years ago specifically to serve parts of the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) with livestock and processing of hygienic meat products.
Over the years owing to the poor development in the area the abattoir which also boast of a thriving market for vegetables and other perishable commodities has become a Haven for drug cartels and Pocket dealers.
The development is blamed on relocation of the Garki abattoir 16 years ago that use to be behind the present office of construction Giants Dantata & Sawoe. Back then, the drug dealers/peddlers served most of the Abuja city center.
But since the FCT administration moved the abattoir to karu, the narcotics drugs market moved to the same vicinity and has become a thriving narcotics market operating freely with little or no disruptions from the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA.
These young men are clearly breaking the law on Indian hemp consumption and possession as the drug law in Nigeria states that ‘anyone who consumes or is knowingly in possession of cannabis sativa is liable upon conviction to a prison term of 4 years without option of fine and for persons below 17 years of age, the penalty is 20 strokes of the cane with 2 years in a remand home.
Interestingly, all these laws mean nothing to this young men and curiously, why the abbatoir premises that houses livestock and does legitimate business? After I payed a visit to the hard drugs market, I spoke to a retired deputy commissioner of police who at one time was in the intelligence department of the NDLEA on the situation at the karu abbatoir and why despite the agency’s yearly recruitment of hundreds of Nigerians, these trained agents are not deployed to black spots such as this. He did not want his name published for obvious reasons but he said “you see, the problem is purely a Nigerian thing, do you know that just 50 metres away from those boys is a milliary base?
“Another less than 40 metres from the soldiers is a police station, it is extremely hard for the NDLEA to carry out a discreet surgical operation there, that’s one, then again the people that supply these drugs to this boys are in collaboration with dealers in cow and animal feeds (straw grass) which they use as camouflage to transport these hard drugs with armed milliary escorts.”
Speaking further, the retired DCP said despite NDLEA’s mandate, they can not stop the supply as they are outfoxed using the Loko river to move particularly cannabis from South to the north thereby bypassing the Lokoja route which has a stronger NDLEA presence’ ‘it is an organized crime network and the boys you see are fronting for strong men in the service and some politicians’ the retired cop concluded.
Despite the irredeemable picture painted by the former cop, the buhari administration should make haste to appoint someone at the agency’s helm that should wage a serious war on consumption and trafficking of illicit substances in the country as it is assuming a frightening dimension.
Earlier, I had spoken to one of the pedlers a young man of about 20 years, Salisu (not real name) he told me he was sent to prison and spent 2years for home breaking and burglary. By the time he was released he had nothing to do but to join the business. He confessed that he sells drugs of more than N30,000 daily all season! Salisu said he can’t get a good job because his imprisonment botched his education and ruined his mental state even as he met his present master in prison. He said, ‘ most of the boys you are seeing here have their own stories of how the Nigerian system failed them from childhood growing up in the far north and raised as Almajiris.
The situation is both distasteful and pathetic that the United Nations office on drugs and crime UNODC can not intervene where the federal government of Nigeria has failed in providing alternatives for the huge youth population of the country.
Every year on the 26th of June is the international day against drugs abuse and trafficking sanctioned by the United Nations, but such days are usually marked with elaborate themes and verbose peer reviewed reports in posh venues without actually taking the campaigns to the streets where drug activities take place. As it stands now, it is important the federal government of Nigeria take this drugs issue more seriously by facilitating concrete synergy between the NDLEA and development partners such as UNODC and civil society to draw up an implementable action plan to demobilise drug trafficking clusters as the one at karu abbatoir and many others found in almost every state of the country.
Tachio can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org