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How Indian hemp smoking induces thuggery in Kebbi

Chieftains of the party are said to be providing money for thugs from the party to get them influenced to attack and in some cases,…

Chieftains of the party are said to be providing money for thugs from the party to get them influenced to attack and in some cases, inflict injuries on their perceived political opponents. A group of PDP stalwarts who said they are of the old PDP in the state, said the use of thugs operating under the influence of drugs to attack and wound suspected opponents within the same party started in 2007 when the former governor of the state, Alhaji Adamu Aliero, the present state governor, Alhaji Saidu Usman Dakingari and their supporters decamped from the All Nigeria Peoples’ Party (ANPP) to the PDP. But the Senior Special Assistant to the state Governor on Media and Publicity, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Argungu, blamed the immediate past Aliero’s led administration in the state for breeding and arming drug taking political thugs in the state.

A member of the old PDP in the state, Alhaji Halilu Jega, said the party’s activities in the state have been militarised and thuggery is now very common among party supporters of the PDP. “We do not know anything called thuggery in the PDP in this state from 1998 when we started to 2007 until the former governor, Alhaji Adamu Aliero decamped to the party and brought the present governor, Dakingari and others. Now the party is divided between the old and new PDP. Even in the new PDP, you have the Aliero and the Dakingari factions.

“The irony of the whole thing is that harmful drug addicts carrying dangerous weapons parading themselves as PDP thugs have now taken centre stage in political activities in the state. They go about in the state and or local government vehicles, intimidating, harassing and beating people. Nobody now has the right to paste his or her posters anywhere except the posters of the governor. These thugs smoke Indian hemp and take other illicit drugs publicly at party functions, party offices, local government secretariats and even at the Government House.

“The thugs also attack perceived opponents at naming ceremonies, wedding receptons and even in the mosques. They have succeeded in polarising the party and have now made us look like thugs who are against the continued peace we have been enjoying. We are concerned because innocent people are suffering. There is massive circulation of Indian hemp and other dangerous drugs now in the state. The atmosphere is becoming seriously charged now. The political thug of the governor, Lauje, who recently drove into a crowd and killed some people here in Birnin Kebbi last week was found to be drunk before the accident,” he said.

At a local joint near the motor park in the state capital, Birnin Kebbi, where such thugs allegedly buy and consume illicit drugs, this reporter met some youths lamenting the arrest of a Kebbi state mass assisted transit bus conveying Indian hemp to the state. They said the bus was intercepted by law enforcement agents at a checkpoint before it arrived the state. The youths who ages range between 18 and 25 were freely smoking Indian hemp close to the office of the Deputy Governor of the state.

But the Senior Special Assistant to the state Governor on Media and Publicity, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Argungu, admitted that the ruling PDP in the state has a leadership crises that has since been settled. He said before the coming of the present Dakingari led administration in the state, Kebbi youths were actually into massive trade and consumption of illicit drugs. He said the governor has also addressed the issue of thuggery in the state which he said is now a thing of the past.

“The governor had appealed to the youths whose stock in trade had hitherto been thuggery reminiscent of politics before his advent, to check among them to see if they could identify a single child of any well-to-do politician or public office holder. To divert their attention and to redirect their energies to something more productive, Governor Dakingari opened more schools, introduced a functional dry season farming scheme with heavily subsidised inputs as well as government support in the establishment of small scale ventures,” he said.

Argungu said he is not aware of any public building in the state where people including PDP thugs converge to smoke Indian hemp or take other illicit drugs. He said the state government has no connection with the state assisted mass transit bus arrested with illicit drugs “as the Aliero led administration had sold all the mass transit buses owned by the state to his loyalists when he was governor of the state.”

But Mallam Saidu Danliman, who is in his 80s, said two of his male children have become active members of the PDP thugs group, adding, “Since they became political thugs, they hardly sleep at home now. I also noticed that sometimes, they come back home drunk. They claimed to be working for some big names. I can no more control them. Yes, they sometimes come in different vehicles along with other people. But I wouldn’t know if some of the vehicles are government vehicle. I have never seen them with guns but they carry sticks and machetes,” he said.         

While the old PDP in the state is believed to consist those who were in the party before the 2007 elections in the state, the new PDP is referred to those who decamped from the All Nigeria Peoples’ Party (ANPP) led by the then governor of the state, Alhaji Adamu Aliero. Other people who decamped to the PDP along with the then governor of the state include the present governor of the state, Alhaji Saidu Usman Dakingari. Shortly after Aliero decamped to the PDP, he hijacked the party in the state and Dakingari was elected the state governor under the party.

Majority of the party officials who were handling the affairs of the party before Aliero and his team decamped and joined them were either removed from their positions or made irrelevant by the decamped members who gave birth to the emergence of the new and old PDP in the state for Aliero and those handling the party before the decamped members joined. But not long after Dakingari was elected governor, he fell apart with his mentor, Aliero who led him to the PDP. The helpless members of the old PDP now complain that since Aliero, Dakingari and others decamped to the party, they have not known peace in Kebbi state.

A top security operative in the state, who pleaded anonymity, said there are growing cases of thuggery in the state. He said the thugs who are mostly under the influence of drugs, now commonly found all over the state, are operating under the banner of political parties, adding, “almost all the political thugs you see are either the boys of this big man or the other. When you arrest any of them and detain, you will not sleep that day. Those political big shots will keep calling the DPO of the station and in some cases, the CP (Commissioner of Police) urging him to release the suspects. I will suggest you contact the NDLEA office here for the statistics of those drug addicts arrested,” the source said.

When contacted online for comments, the Head of Public Affairs of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mr. Mitchell Ofoyeju, said he will need time to respond to the enquiry. About a week after the online enquiry was sent to him, Ofoyeju is yet to respond.

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