Some residents of Enugu metropolis have expressed concern about the growing consumption of Methamphetamine, a dangerous synthetic substance, popularly known as Mkpuru Mmiri in Igbo slang, saying that the practice posses serious danger to the peace, security and safety of the people.

This became necessary following series of atrocities being perpetrated by consumers of this dangerous substance on the people.

The practice has continued to generate wide condemnation with many arguing that the trend was a major factor fueling insecurity and criminality in the southeast communities.

Methamphetamine, which has been given so many baptismal names, such as: speed, uppers, meth, crystal meth, chalk, ice, glass, Christmas tree, and crank, could be swallowed or snorted, and looks like ice block and can be blue in colour.

Meth is an addictive hard drug that is wasting the destiny of so many youths and has become a serious issue in the southeast with thousands of Igbo youths addicted to the drug. 

According to the National Institute of Health, Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system of whoever takes it. It creates a feeling of massive happiness that is very addictive and makes the taker want to fly. A type of drug that lets people stay awake and do continuous activity with less need for sleep.

A medical expert, Dr. Brendan Ejiofor Mamah, explains that the substance is a potent central nervous system stimulant that is mainly used as a recreational drug and less commonly as a second line treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorders and obesity.

According to Dr. Mamah, Methamphetamine has a melting point of 170°c, a highly addicted psychostimulant drug that is chemically related to amphetamine.

Dr. Mamah says because it is can be easily synthesized from inexpensive and readily obtainable chemicals, Meth now has the widest spread in the society and mostly abused.

He emphasises that Mkpuru Mmiri is one of the hardest drug common in South East Nigeria today and hard to treat.

According to Dr. Mamah, prolonged abuse of methamphetamine can destroy an individual’s life. 

It makes the addict lose appetite and consequently lose weight, the addict soliloquizes, and talks too much, dresses tattered and looks shabby, experiences changes in sleeping patterns (sometimes insomnia), as well as easily irritated.

Other symptoms are high body temperature, mental disorders, truancy and mood swings.

He enumerates serious mental disorders, organ failure, skin sores, rotting teeth, dilated pupils, facial tics, and finally deaths as some of the side effects of the drug.

Dr. Mamah, encourages youths to avoid drug abuse in general and stop the use of amphetamine (Mkpuru Mmiri) in particular.

Reacting to the development, a youth advocate, and Founder, LEAD Network African, Mr. Chukwuma Ephraim Okenwa, blames the practice on poor background and lack of education, noting that if a child is properly groomed, it would be difficult for the fellow to engage in the act.

According to Mr. Okenwa, the consequences of drug abuse is devastating, observing that most parents have been disappointed seeing their children become a scorn to the society.

He says drug abuse is not a good narrative to young persons, emphasizing that it is a great security threats to lives and property.

Mr. Okenwa, canvasses sustained exposure of youths to enlightenment programmes on the dangerous effects of drug abuse and addiction.

An Enugu based Legal Practitioner, Mr. Chukwunonso Daniel Ogbe, popularly known as CD Ogbe, says the recent heartrending abuse of drugs by some young Nigerians of late is a worrisome development.

While stating that there is no empirical evidence presently in place to establish firmly the cause of the recent increase in the abuse of drugs among the youth cadre of the Nigerian society, Mr. Ogbe, however, argues that the growing poor Nigerian economy, which has given rise to an army of frustrated youths, the dwindling parental/ societal care and attending to their emotional needs, as well as the prevalence of peer pressure in today’s complex society, may all be responsible for the recent growing trend in drug abuse among Nigerian youths.

He points out that the latest being the abuse of the drug known as Crystal Meth (informally referred to as Mkpulu Mmiri among the Igbo people of South-East Nigeria), in an alarming proportion.

“This recent increase in drug abuse has adversely affected and is still affecting the Nigerian society. The lives of many promising young men and women who took to drugs have been altered negatively following the adverse impact of such drugs on their mental health.

“Many young Nigerians who have become addicted to drugs now use precious hours that should have served the purpose of making positive contribution to the development of the human society in craving for drugs.

“It may not be wrong for one to attribute the increase in drug abuse among the youth populace to the consequential increase in violent crimes in Nigeria.

“Apart from the conventional violent crimes being perpetrated by many drug-disposed young Nigerians, any keen observer of the Nigerian economy will easily admit that there seems to be an increase in the number of eccentrics in our society today.

“Many youth believe they cannot carry out routine activities without taking prohibited drugs.

“The Government of the day should, as a matter of urgency, take a look at the dilapidated state of the Nigerian economy. Sincerely implemented social intervention policies should be carried into force by the Government. There should be a concerted effort geared towards diversifying the Nigerian economy in order to help create employment opportunities for the teeming unemployed Nigerian youth.

“This advice, if heeded to, would help see to it that the malaise of unemployment, which has been a fertile ground for the thriving of frustration that consequently gives rise to resort to drugs among many young people is addressed firmly” CD Ogbe submitted.

Mr. Ogbe suggests that in addressing this anomaly, the Government of Nigeria, should also as a matter of urgency, take a critical look at the drug laws of the land.

“Decriminalization of the use of some drugs, especially the easily accessible ones like Mkpulu Mmiri may not be a bad idea as some countries are already embracing decriminalization as the solution to their drug problem.

“When the consumption of drugs like Mkpulu Mmiri is decriminalized, it will help make it easy for those consuming such drugs to be discovered on time and given necessary therapy that would help them recover from drug addiction,” Mr. Ogbe advised.

Mr. CD Ogbe, further argues that the use of force on, or subjecting the adversely affected citizens to criminal prosecution may not necessarily address the increasing rate of drug abuse as such individuals need help.

“Furthermore, the Government of Nigeria should go after those who are in the business of illicit drugs and not necessarily after the consumers being those who get addicted.

“Punitive measures should be carried out on those who indulge in the nefarious business as is being done conventionally today in Nigeria by the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency.

“However, with regard to the consumers of such drugs, it is advised that the Government should do away with subjecting such individuals to punitive actions. They rather should be offered necessary assistance that would make them recover from such addictive tendencies.

The Special Assistant to the Enugu State Governor on Drugs and Narcotics, Mr. Chidi Egbuogu, tells RADIO NIGERIA that government cannot fold its hands and watch the ugly trend of drug abuse going on without doing anything.

He stresses that government will go after dealers and the manufacturers of the substance and ensure they face the law.

“They should know that Enugu State is not a safe haven to them, the eye of the law is watching them, and we promise them that they’re not going to go scot-free, because the havoc they are causing is more than the profit they think they are making from such bad business.

“So Enugu State is not a place for you. My promise to them is that one day, they will be arrested, and they will face the law.

“It is a straight forward thing that Enugu State cannot condone illicit manufacturing of drugs that are harmful to the health of the citizens because if Government should keep quiet or look the other way, the impact on the society will be enormous,” he pointed out.

Mr. Egbuogu, maintains that government will do everything possible in trying to dissuade youths from abusing drug.

“Enugu State Government is worried about the ugly trend of drug abuse in Enugu State, especially the so called Mkpuru Mmiri. The rate the youth are engaging in this drug abuse is overwhelming and it’s a great concern to government and we cannot really fold our hands and see our youths go in this direction. It’s an ugly trend if left unchecked would lead to crime,” he stated.

The SSA to the Governor on Drugs and Narcotics says already government is engaging in public enlightenment to sensitize the people, especially the younger ones to the negative effects of drug abuse.

“We’re engaging the youths especially the younger ones in various fora, in various capacity to at least tell them the implication of abusing this substance, that it’s not really good for their health.

“It can cause mental issues, it can lead them to crime, unexpected crime, unimaginable crime, so, what government can do is to try to engage them to see how we can convince them, we can tell them the need to stay away from all these drugs thereby making our state safe and country safe as well.

“I know it’s people that are producing this drug, and people are selling it in order to make profit, yes! they know the implication, that what they’re doing is not really good, but because they know that there are some people that have crave to even abuse more they use it an opportunity.

“But on our own part, what we’re asking the public is to help us with information, if you know anywhere they’re producing this drug, all these clandestine laboratories around, just quitely come to the necessary authority and give us this information.

“We have arrested few persons, with support from National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, (NDLEA) with necessary information, the State government cannot shy away from apprehending producers, we want a safer State, the State government is no longer taking as business as usual,” the SSA boasted.

Mr. Egbuogu, appeals to those who abuse drugs to walk away from it for their future, while urging those already addicted to seek help.

He identifies unemployment as a major factor, while also noting that number of out of school children was high, without proper programme to engage them.

The Governor’s aide, advocates youth friendly policy that will engage the youth usefully, either in agriculture or in skill acquisition or even education, while emphasizing that there should be a ready job waiting for them after their training so that they might not really have the time to start thinking of engaging in illicit trade or abusing drug in any form.

Recall a viral video of a young man that was set ablaze by youths in his Community, Adazi, Anaocha L.G.A in Anambra State for killing his father after smoking Mkpuru Mmiri.

According to report, the boy killed his father for Mkpuru Mmiri and he was caught and killed by the youth of his Community.

The report has it that the boy was known to be Meth addict. He was said to always steal his father’s money to get himself refilled.

Also, some communities in Anambra State have given a special treatment of flogging to youths who engage and take hard drug, especially, Crystal meth, known as, Mkpuru Mmiri.

In one of the trending videos, no fewer than five Igbo youths were seen as they were pinned to a pillar of the wall, while energetic members of the community used strong sticks (canes) to flog them. 

According to information, the intake or usage of Mkpuru mmiri is gradually taking over the youth. 

A community leader, in the video said one of the notorious youth, Amechi, took the hard drug, Mkpuru Mmiri, and began to misbehave as he pulled out a knife and threatened to stab his mother to death.

According to Amechi, he says that if he is successful to stab his mother to death, he would take to the street to act like a lunatic to escape being punished or imprisoned. 

In what appears to be taking proactive measures to check to the situation, Umudioka, a community in Dunukofia Local Government Area of Anambra State, has declared war on illicit drugs, most especially Methamphetamine.

A statement by the President-General of Umudioka Improvement Union, Mr. Chike Odoji, prohibits indigenes and non-indigenes resident in Umudioka from taking Indian Hemp and any other illegal substances.

The statement warns all residents of the residents of the community that “henceforth consumption, smoking and sale of Mkpuru Mmili; Isi na Awa Agu; Aju Achu Enwe; Stonch; Indian Hemp; and other substances/illicit drugs have been proscribed in the community and her environs.”

Mr. Odoji notes that the association will soon collaborate with the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency, anti-cult and other relevant law enforcement agencies to begin the arrest of defaulters.