Boko Haram: Nigerian agency laments increase in cocaine, illicit drug use in IDP camps

The arrest of a middle-aged drug peddler in an internally displaced persons’ camp in Dikwa, Borno State has become a source of worry to the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, officials said.

Baba Haruna, 48, was nabbed by agents of the drug agency while selling illicit drugs, including cocaine, to addicts within the camp as well as those in the host community, Maiduguri.

The Commandant of the NDLEA, Ona Ogilegwu, said Mr. Haruna used the camp as hub for his drug trade before he was arrested on February 27, 2016.

Journalists were unofficially informed that authorities are also trying to investigate allegations that Mr. Haruna was also a supplier of hard drugs to the members of the Boko Haram insurgents before his displacement to the camp in Maiduguri two years ago.

The suspect reportedly deceived some members of the camp from reporting him to the authorities by disguising to be an agent of the Nigerian anti-drug body.

“The criminal disguised himself as an officer of NDLEA in the IDPs camp to sell illicit drugs,” Mr. Ogilegwu said.

“After one month surveillance by men of the command, we decided to buy the hard drugs from him like two times just to confirm he is selling.

“We rounded him up the third time after he taught we are coming to buy in large quantity.

“The command also arrested a 32 year old man who gave his name as Aliyu Wasaram, with hard drugs in the same Dikwa IDPs camp.

“I don’t know what is wrong with these people, but I will tell you that the level of drug intake among men and women in IDPs camps is more than you can imagine.

“We have heard several report and we have sent our men in all the 28 IDPs camps to ensure we mop up of all nefarious activities in the camps,” the Commandant said.

Bashir Diwama, a displaced person and father of six children, said he fears for his children who may been mixing up with substance abusers as they continue to live in the camp.

“I have tried all my life to ensure my children are brought up in a decent environment so that they grow up to be good citizens”, said Mr. Diwama, a 51 years old trader. “But here in camp, where the children now mix up with all kinds of peers, I fear for their future, because one does not have control over ones family here”.

Diwama and many other parents wished they could return back to their liberated communities at once.

Even before the insurgency, the northeast Nigerian state of Borno has been known as a major hub for illicit drug trafficking whose merchants are said to have links from West Africa, through the Central African Republic to Europe.

Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians have been displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency with majority of them in camps within Nigeria.

About 20,000 people are also believed to have died since the insurgency began in 2009.

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