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|Codeine Abuse Spreads Among Kano Women by gramci: 8:08am On Jul 21, 2012|
http://weeklytrust.com.ng/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9983:codeine-abuse-spreads-among-kano-women&catid=40:cover-stories&Itemid=26The abuse of codeine cough syrups especially among students and pupils in both secondary and primary school girls is quietly spreading like a wild fire on a wheat farm. Their mothers and aunties are major culprits too. So, who is going to save who? Jummai (not real name) has spent two months hanging out around a hotel located near Kano airport before men of the state Hisbah Board picked her up. While at their office, the 18-year-old confessed to being three months pregnant and admitted using cough syrup containing codeine to get ‘slow'
The Shari’ah law enforcement officers said the teenager was apprehended after investigations had shown that she was wandering around the hotel, apparently waiting for ‘customers’. Jummai, however, claimed that she was there for a different mission.
She left her hometown of Kazaure in Jigawa State for about two months and relocated to Kano, to evade her parents’ nagging as she claimed. While at Kano, the secondary school leaver was being accommodated by her two girl friends within the airport’s authorities quarters.
While they remain indoors in the day, they go out to meet their boyfriends at night. She has since stopped seeing the man who impregnated her, but a ‘good Samaritan’ she met around the hotel was offering tohelp her out.
So, not as the Hisbah officials were suspecting, Jummai said she was out at hotel on the morning of her arrest to meet the man, who was going to helpher abort the pregnancy. “Everything was finalized and I was only waiting for him to come and take me to the doctorwho was going to remove it when the Hisbah turned up and asked me to follow them,” she explained. The arrest has savedthe child.
Jummai who was not forthcoming initially with answers, later relaxed and opened up more about herself as well as the company she waskeeping.
Neither the teenager’s parents nor her acquaintances knew that she has fled to Kano, though she has a craving to return home before the Ramadan – and that is preciselyafter the pregnancy must have been terminated.
The teenager revealed that she was introduced to drugs by her female friends at a school in Kazaure. Although she stopped a month after taking in, she recalled gulping varieties of cough syrups containing codeine.
On how the substances made her feel, Jummai gave a faint smile before uttering ‘slow’, butthe two other teens harbouring her are stiil on it, she said. “Oneof them always falls sick any day she did not take cough syrup with codeine. On average, she takes five bottles a day,” she revealed.
Jummai went further to disclosethat the price of the substances varies according to brands, stating that the highly intoxicating ones cost N700 per bottle, while others are available for just N500.
Before she quit the drug, the lady recalled that her main supplier was a man residing at Bachirawa quarters in Kano, called ‘Chairman’.
Malama Zahara’u Muhammad Umar, Hisbah Board’s deputy Commander General, said Jummai was the second teenager brought to her office with pregnancy and drug abuse cases within a week. “That has been the trend. Most of these ladies we get who are taking cough syrups are also pregnant.”
The woman commander said it is difficult to say the exact number of female drug addicts who are caught by the board every week. “There was a lady Isat here and counseled for a long time against abusing drugs. When she left my office, she asked the guard escorting her ‘please oga that woman who was talking to me, what didshe say? I’m high, so I did not understand a single word she said’,” narrated Malama Zahara’u.
She maintained that she can detect drug abusers from signs in their eyes, mouth and tongue as well as through their behaviour.
Cases of drug abuse are not strange in Kano, a state that has been consistently rated as the first for two in number of drug abuse throughout the country by the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). What is new, as Weekly Trust checks showed, isthe growing trend of high consumption of drugs, especially cough syrups mixed with codeine - a drug that is used to reduce pain.
“It is scaring,” said Zahara’u. “What is more frightening aboutit is that we arrest more of female drug abusers than male.Most of the people brought hereare female and they usually come here dazed. So you have to wait until they sleep for a dayand regain their senses before you can debrief them,” the commander added.
Weekly Trust findings also indicated that the abuse of substances in the state is not just peculiar with ‘street’ girls like Jummai, as the vice has found ‘religious’ acceptance among married women, as well as secondary and primary school girls.
Also in vogue, is the free use of codeine and cough syrups as intoxicants at women gatherings, especially during wedding ceremonies or parties. “Even women in kulle (purdah) do it,” said NDLEA commander in Kano State, Sumaila Ethan. “But they don’t go and buy it themselves, they use fronts.”
Zahara’u gave an insight into how the fronts are used, explaining that a married woman could give money to a neighbour and beg him to take his child to a patent medicine seller and lie of sickness, just toget her the drugs. Some of the drugs are sold by fellow women, she said.
A secondary school teacher, who does not want to be named, told Weekly Trust that three female students had to beexpelled recently from a girls secondary school in Giginyu. According to the tutor, one of the students was fond of sleeping during classes and when she was investigated, other teachers discovered she was taking cough syrup mixed with codeine.
After much interrogation, the girl who was in SS2 named two junior students in the school to be her accomplice. “Further investigations later revealed that the girl picked the habit from her mother, who was said to be an unrepentant junkie,” he said, adding that the two other girls were equally expelled.
“Women mix these drugs in drinks during ceremonies and share it among themselves. Thegoal is to get them tipsy and give them courage to dance and talk vulgar,” explains the Hisbah commander. The officer further said primary school children as young as 12 have been brought before her for abusing cough syrups.
But she warned that parents should be cautious of their daughters who don’t go out of the home at all, but receive visitors and sleep always. “What we have found out aboutsuch ladies is that, they may be home and sleeping all the time, giving their parents reasons for joy that their daughters are good. But that may not be so, as it is common with such ladiesto be getting such syrups from their female friends who visit carrying handbags and sometimes join them to sleep.”
Weekly Trust gathered that the easiest way to get such drugs by the users is at the uncontrolled medicine market inside Sabon Gari market. There, people can go and buy large quantities of the substances to supply to end users in different parts of the state. “It was reported to me last year that some youths wentand bought 12 cartons of coughsyrups containing codeine at the Sabon Gari market which they reportedly used for celebrating Sallah festivity afterthe Ramadan fast,” said the chairman of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria in Kano, Pharmacist Ahmad Gana Muhammad.
The chairman described the drugs section of the market as a place where the sale of medicines is not regulated, citing a situation where someone who has no shop therein, brought cartons of cough syrup, dumped them on the ground and started selling.
Not long ago, Governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, has to plead with drug manufacturers, through the state Commissionerfor Health, Dr. Abubakar Labaran Yusuf, to reduce the quantity of the substance, because it is the drug that is much abused by youths.
The governor, who observed that the level of abuse of the drugs has become worrisome, lamented that pharmaceutical manufacturers within and outside the state have introduced the drug into their product lines. He further urged the manufacturers to resist the temptation of accumulating more wea
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