MKPURU MMIRI (methamphetamine): The drug destroying Igbo youths

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….It leads to madness, fingered as booster to unknown gunmen

NDLEA fights back, community leaders subject addicts to public flogging

Many Igbo communities are currently facing the dangerous effect of Methamphetamine nicknamed by the youths as Nkpuru Mmiri which translates to seed of water.

Many youths are into it but God knows that seeds of water cannot be dangerous drugs. Picture of the drug probably informed it’s nickname.Mkpuru mmiri is a crystal narcotic hallucinogen that is capable of destroying a person mentally. It is estimated that 75 percent of the users in our society are adversely affected. And they have become a burden to their families and communities.

According to drug literature, methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. The crystal form of the drug  looks like glass fragments and is chemically similar to amphetamine, a drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, a sleep disorder.

Addicts  can take methamphetamine by smoking, swallowing, snorting or injecting the powder that has been dissolved in water or alcohol. The “high” from the drug starts and fades quickly, people often take repeated doses in a “binge and crash” pattern. In some cases, people take methamphetamine as a “run,” giving up food and sleep while continuing to take the drug every few hours for up to several days.

Methamphetamine affects the brain adversely. It increases the amount of a natural chemical called dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is involved in body movement, motivation, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors.The drug’s ability to rapidly release high levels of dopamine in reward areas of the brain strongly reinforces drug-taking behaviour, making the user want to repeat the experience.

Taking even small amounts of methamphetamine can result in the same health effects as taking cocaine or amphetamines. These include increased wakefulness and physical activity, decreased appetite, faster breathing, rapid and/or irregular heartbeat and increased blood pressure and body temperature.

Several questions concerning this scourge are in the public domain. One of the questions is whether Nkpuru Mmiri is sourced locally or imported into the country. Another question is, if it is imported, from which of the nation’s boundaries did they come in? If it is locally produced, where in Nigeria is it produced?.

The National Drug Law Enforcement headed by Buba Marwa yesterday tried to answer these questions in their reaction which contained some details about the drug. The agency, through their spokesman, Femi Babafemi, sent the following as their reaction:

“Mkpulu Mmiri is the Igbo slang for Methamphetamine or Crystal Meth, a very dangerous illicit drug. It looks like Ice or white chalk crystal and sometimes can be blue. That is why the users sometimes refer to it as “ice.” It can be dissolved in water.

 It was developed in Japan in 1919 and grossly abused during World War II when it was issued to pilots on a suicidal mission called “kamikaze.” After the world war, it was briefly used as a medication for depression and for controlling obesity, but it was quickly abandoned and banned thereafter, especially from the 1970s. Meth is categorised as Schedule II (i.e. “drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence”) by the International Drug Control Conventions.

 Since the 1990s, the production of crystal meth has been hijacked by Mexican drug cartels and they came into Nigeria to set up laboratories in 2016.

 It is a very addictive stimulant that renders the user hyperactive and prone to destructive tendencies which at the extreme do not exclude suicide or homicide at the slightest provocation and without a feeling of remorse.

As a stimulant, it has powerful euphoric effects, similar to those of cocaine. Meth typically keeps users awake, depriving them of sleep. Its use and abuse also carry acute health risks including high blood pressure and cardiovascular-related illness.

Aside from being unable to sleep and being violent, users exhibit anti-social behaviours arising from paranoia and hallucination. The drug takes a toll on the physical look of its users. It typically makes them look older and their faces prone to acne. Sometimes, excessive use leads to damaged gum and teeth, commonly called “meth mouth.”

What is most frightening is that meth addiction is one of the most difficult to treat, because no drug can cure it, except by behavioural therapy, which at the moment is not readily available in the country.

 Since the launch of the Offensive Action campaign early this year, NDLEA has recorded significant seizures of kilograms of the drug. Likewise, the Agency has located and destroyed not less than 18 meth-producing laboratories in the country in the past few years.

The Agency has been monitoring the trend in Meth production, abuse and trafficking. And because of the rampant abuse and production of the drug, especially in the Southeast, the Chairman/CEO recently gave specific instructions to relevant directorates of the Agency on how the Agency should respond to the development. You can be rest assured that in a matter of time, the pipelines of such illicit drugs would be shut down and those behind it brought to book.”

How Mkpuru Mmiri became popular in the Southeast of the country is still a mystery, although there were reports that barons form  well organized cartels and distribution network are responsible for this drug destroying the brains of our youths.

Like wildfire, the effect of Nkpuru Mmiri has spread across most towns and even remote villages. It was even suspected that the hard drug contributed in no small measure to the problem of the unknown gunmen in parts of the South East in recent time, particularly in Anambra State before the recent governorship election in the state. Some people actually believe that only people who take such drugs could be killing people and destroying property without any provocation and without showing remorse.

In Anambra State, for instance, the drug has become a house hold name in such communities like Obosi, Enugwu Ukwu, Agukwu, Agulu, Okija, Uli, Awka, Nteje, Awkuzu, Umueri, Umudioka and many more. In the communities where Nkpuru Mmiri has become common, rape has also become rampant as it is believed that the drug increases the libido of the affected youths. Another surprising thing is that some women also indulge in it and, in their case, the result is usually madness. 

Currently, some communities have started identifying those who sell the drug in their areas and are banishing them, while their youths who were known to be taking it are publicly punished by flogging them in village squares.

For instance, the Umudioka Improvement Union in Dunukofia local government area of Anambra State has proscribed the sale and   consumption of all illicit drugs and substances in the community and warned those still undertaking such business to desist forthwith as they stood the risk of being arrested and prosecuted with the support of the relevant security agencies.

In Okija, Ihiala local government area, youths of the community early this week marched through the major roads to drive home their full commitment towards eradicating the menace of cultism which is linked to drug abuse, particularly Mkpûrû mmiri  in the town. Some stakeholders from the town joined in the campaign during which they warned that anyone found guilty would be seriously dealt with. Several communities have also taken similar measures, but it is left to be seen how effective the measures would be in the coming weeks.

Even NYSC orientation camps are not spared of the hard drug.. Recently, there was a startling revelation by one of the coordinators of the National Youth Service Corps, in one of the states that many Youth Corps members are into the hard drug.During an interaction with some prospective employers, the NYSC coordinator said: “As a matter of fact, when we are going to the orientation camp, we take so many collaborative agencies, including NDLEA, counselors and other people who help talk to the youths that are really into drugs. But I never knew that the TomTom (sweet) they put inside Coca-Cola makes them high. I never knew that when they hold a Lacaserra bottle, you won’t know that the content is not Lacaserra. Even known seasoning cubes that you and I use in cooking, these children will put it inside Lacasera, drink it and they are high.

“We keep telling them that if they are into drugs, they should drop it outside before entering the orientation camp within three weeks, and once they could achieve that, they could live a normal life. Unfortunately many of them still smuggle the drugs into the camps”.

Mr. Ugezu Ugezu, a popular Nollywood actor and film producer said it has been discovered that many Igbo youths are unfortunately neck deep into it. “We don’t even know how it found its way into our space. I suspect that it is possible that those who want to destroy our future brought it into our state and our youths are unfortunately embracing it. In many Igbo communities today, unemployed youths and some artisans have made Nkpurumiri their companion. After taking it, they see themselves as being on top of the world”, he said.

Proffering a solution to the problem, Ugezu said: “The Presidents General of the various town unions should, as a matter of urgency tackle this problem of Nkpurumiri headlong.  I strongly believe that the menace can be reduced by flogging mercilessly those who indulge in it. Some communities have already started doing that and we commend them. In the olden days, those who were possessed by demons were freed by flogging the evil spirit out of them. If our forefathers could succeed then, I see this Nkpurumiri as a small case.

If we allow this dangerous situation to prevail in our society, then the future of our country is doomed because this crop of youths will eventually occupy the political space and I wonder how a society they lead will be like.

Also, various families should identify such youths in their midst and report them to the town union leadership. If this is not done in the next three to four years, most youths would have been completely destroyed.

But another concerned person, Mrs. Ujunwa Okoli had a different opinion when she told a pathetic story concerning her sibling. She said: “Here in Anambra, Mkpuru mmiri situation is very critical. My town is flogging them and this is not the best, My younger brother, our only son died last week from the flogging. My brother was never a bad child but suddenly he started hanging out with rough youths and now he is dead.  He could have been saved if he was not flogged. After the flogging he became sick and died three days later. I suggest that rather than flog them, they should be rehabilitated.

The resurgence of drug addiction among the youths today is unarguably of grave concern, which, perhaps, is why many communities are outraged over the destructive effects of the scourge among young people. The good news, however, is that most of the communities are united in the battle against it. Usually punitive measures such as public flogging and pledge of abstinence by offenders are currently being recommended and applied.

The situation is alarming – Anambra govt

Reacting on the effect of this drugs on the youths, the Anambra State government described it as alarming. The state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C Don Adinuba said government would soon interface with the stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the problem.

He said: “This extremely potent illegal drug is destroying our youths. Government is alarmed at its consequences which include serious health crisis that often leads to death. The state government is working together with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, the police and community leaders, including traditional rulers, town union leaders and youth organizations to wipe out this new phenomenon. We shall also soon visit schools and youth organizations to spread the message of the dangers of this menace”.

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