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Adolescent drug dealers operate out of MKO Abiola’s abandoned multimillion naira property

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Adolescent drug dealers operate out of MKO Abiola’s abandoned multimillion naira property

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Authored by Olasunkanmi Akinlotan

Acclaimed winner of the 1993 Nigerian presidential election Moshood Abiola bought about five acres of land in the Sabo area of Abeokuta in the late 1970s in order to construct one of the best hotels in the country. However, he had no idea that the area would soon become a haven for drug users.

Several years later, Mayas Hotel has become a notorious drug den where customers and sellers can freely engage in their illicit activities without fear of repercussion from the law.

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This is despite the fact that the Sabo and Lafenwa police stations are quite close by.

A reporter for the HEALTHYSPOT101 went undercover to investigate how the drug trade operates with little to no interference.

Mayas is infamous in Abeokuta for being a haven for drug users and a place to purchase heavy drugs. The hotel is claimed to have operated in the late 70s and early 80s.

In contrast, the area was taken over by drug users in the late 1990s.

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The major portion of the expansive land has been converted into a sawmill and sheds were erected in practically every corner of the site.

Inside the complex, a solitary building without a roof was discovered; it turned out to be the former Mayas Hotel.

Many ‘homeless’ drug addicts have made a home in an abandoned bungalow that sits on a corner.

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Many of the drug users are underage, but the majority are teenagers.

Teenagers are major distributors and consumers of hard narcotics, although customers of all ages, including women, purchase from them.

Youngsters like 14-year-old Ibrahim Adeoye work at the Mayas drug den, where they offer addicts potent substances like Colorado, Codeine, and skunk.

The teenager started living within Mayas at the age of 12 after losing his mother. He claimed his stepmother abused him so badly that he had to escape his polygamous family.

Basit, one of his pals, connected him to “Olota,” a well-known drug lord in Mayas. He told our reporter that he started selling heavy drugs a week after going to the drug house.

The Yoruba-speaking adolescent appears to have never been to school, despite his claim to have nearly finished basic school before his mother died.

After the death of my mother and the abuse at the hands of my stepmother, I have been living here for two years. My pal set me up with Olota, and ever since then, I’ve considered myself one of his lads.

I am a vendor as well. In just two days, I’ve made N300,000 off the narcotics sales here. I am a top earner here because my boss has faith that his money is safe with me.

I’ve been a smoker for two years, so it’s a big part of who I am. Because smoking makes me feel so great, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to give up the habit. After his mother passed away, he decided to quit attending school.

When this reporter went to Mayas, he wasn’t the only adolescent peddling dope.

There were a lot of young men (13-17) selling drugs at the market. While whistling to lure consumers, they all carried polythene nylon bags containing various hard substances.

Some others placed tiny bags around their necks, with lighters or matches in their palms.

This reporter observed that drug merchants still run the location, and smokers don’t seem to care, despite a police search in 2021 that seized N2,722,750 and several million naira’s worth of hard drugs.

The popular abattoir in the area known as “Odo-Eran” is only a three-minute walk from the Mayas ground, as reported by HEALTHYSPOT101, and it was also noted that people in the slab can see what’s going on in the drug market from the Mayas ground.

The ‘drug market’ was visited by our reporter seven times over the course of two weeks; four days were spent there during the day, while the other three were spent there at night.

Every customer and visitor must pass through a small market of butchers and plank dealers on their way to the drug market. Some of the drug vendors who frequent this market hang out among the regular vendors, keeping an eye out for new customers they can rapidly approach once they spot them.

At least 21 of the 37 drug users our reporter saw seated in various outbuildings at the drug den were under the age of 18.

Sheds can be seen in key locations surrounding the drug market. It has been determined that various drug lords, represented by various stall owners, own the sheds.

In addition to the drug storage sheds, we found chairs strategically placed around the area, suggesting that the area was designed to be used by smokers. Women were also seen selling food and beverages on the opposite side of the drug market, completing the atmosphere of revelry.

Section 41 of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act enables any officer of the Police, Customs, or NDLEA to enter and search any land or building and to arrest anyone discovered to illegally possess, sell, or misuse, import, or export cocaine, heroin, or similar dangerous substances.

Anyone caught illegally importing, exporting, or cultivating these substances faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, while anyone caught using any of these substances, including smoking, inhaling, or injecting them, faces a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of 25 years in prison.

Even though a Divisional Police Station is only a little over a kilometer away from the drug den, our correspondent found that the drug traffickers operate without fear or restraint.

During this undercover investigation, this journalist who looked like the smokers in order to integrate properly, was told by two of the smokers that police do visit the site to receive money from the main drug traffickers and not to arrest either the drug pushers or smokers.

One of the smokers simply identified as Habeeb told our reporter that, “officers do visit the drug den not to arrest anyone but to meet ‘senior men”, whom he referred to as “Agba awo”.

“Why we started smoking”

Rasheed Folarin, now 35 years old, began frequenting the drug den known as Mayas in 1999, when he was 12 years old. However, he didn’t start smoking until he was 22, after the divorce from his first wife.

To his fellow smokes, he just goes by the name “Fola,” but he said that he had accompanied his late companion Bayo to the local drug den.

Mr. Folarin finds that marijuana and strong substances help him ignore his worries for a little while. He said that the drug den provides him with both pleasure and consolation.

He remarked, “I started coming to this spot when I was 12 with my late friend who was a smoker. Even though many of my friends smoked at the time, I chose not to join them. However, after splitting up with my wife, I began smoking. When I smoked for the first time, I felt like the king of the world. I decided to keep going after realizing how beneficial the cannabis was.

Even if it’s legal, I’ll smoke everything but cocaine. When I light up, I temporarily disconnect from my concerns and issues.

After 13 years, I’m not sure whether I can walk away from what I’ve built here. Both it and I have merged into an inseparable whole.

Ismail Orisade, another smoker, claimed he learned to light up as a high school student at the drug hangout. In his Senior Year of High School (SS ll), he was invited to the den by his friends.

He claimed, “I learned how to inhale and exhale smoke from my pals in 2010 when I was in high school. That day changed the course of my life forever. After taking it, I nearly went insane.

Since that time, I’ve developed a serious addiction to it. I can’t eat or poop until I take it, and I can’t poop till I take it. I cannot quit because I appreciate how it reacts in my body.”

When asked about the state’s illicit drug statistics, Ibiba Odili, the NDLEA’s commandant, replied that no recent study of drug users was conducted in the area, therefore no information could be provided at this time.

She cited a 2018 United Nations survey that looked at the prevalence and distribution of drugs in Nigeria, saying, “I will start with the result of a national drug use survey which was published in collaboration with the office of the United Nations on drug and crimes and the federal government of Nigeria.” The poll found that out of all the regions in Nigeria, the southwest had the highest rate of drug addiction (22.4 percent), followed by the south-south (15.6).

Nonetheless, Ogun state makes up a sizable portion of the southwest. I hope that clarifies things for you. We’re bringing up that survey because it was the last one done; since then, neither we nor Ogun have had any more; but the report indicates that drug usage is widespread in Ogun.

Asked about the agency’s attempts to contain the negative trend, Mrs Odili said all hands are on deck to curb the usage of hard drugs in Ogun State.

We are collaborating with other organizations and the general public to make drug abuse a thing of the past.

We may not share our strategies, but they are working. But we won’t stop until our culture is ridded of drug abusers.”

Around the world, drug addiction affects 35 million people.

There were around 275 million drug users and over 36 million persons with substance use disorders in the world in the past year, as reported in the June 2021 edition of the World Drug Report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

In 2018, there were an estimated 14.3 million drug users in Nigeria, with close to three million experiencing a substance use problem, as reported by the National Drug Use Survey.

It is concerning that there are 11 million cannabis users in Nigeria, a third of whom are under the age of 25, and that the percentage of adolescents who perceive the drug as harmful has decreased by up to 40 per cent in the last 24 years. This is despite evidence that cannabis use is associated with a variety of health and other harms, particularly among regular long-term users.

About 5.5% of the global population aged 15-64 used drugs in 2017. This equates to about 271 million people.

This is in line with 2016’s estimation, however looking further back we can see that the number of drug users has increased by 30% since 2009.

Increases in opiate use have been seen in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America since 2009, while increases in cannabis use have been seen in North America, South America, and Asia since same year as well.

UNODC Director Ghada Waly acknowledged this fact in the 2020 World Drug Report, writing, “vulnerable and marginalised groups, youth, women, and the poor pay the price for the world drug problem,” notably during the COVID-19 epidemic.

At the same time that poverty and homelessness are on the rise in Nigeria, so too are drug hideouts.

However, a psychiatrist named Anthony Ogbemudia indicated that drug addicts might be erratic and aggressive, and he emphasized that youngsters who experiment with drugs are at risk of being exploited for evil.

Drug addiction can lead to mental instability, as observed by Mr. Ogbemudia, Chaplain and Head of the Department of Health Education and Drug addiction Prevention at the Neuropsychiatric Hospital in Aro, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

He said, “It has an effect on their educational achievement. Since they are unable to pay attention while high, they will begin missing class, which will lead to a decline in their academic performance.

It’s common knowledge that drug use can turn even the most placid individual hostile. Many dangerous actions result from it. Having intercourse without protection puts one at risk for a wide range of diseases. Drunk driving and related accidents are another potential outcome.

They become criminals because of their social circle. Young persons under the influence of drugs are responsible for the vast majority of reported rapes.

They can steal because they know they will need a lot of money to support their drug habit.

“From a medical standpoint, it has repercussions for their heart, lungs, etc. A substance such as Colorado affects the central nervous system that governs the body, kidney failure, etc., and if care is not given, it can easily kill most of them.

Some of them take part in robberies with weapons and ritual murders. Hard drugs can lead to mental collapse, and if that happens, the only option is to control the symptoms.

Those in need have been heard.

Residents of the Sabo neighborhood in Abeokuta North Local Government have also made a plea to the state government and security agencies, asking for assistance in removing the adolescents who are selling narcotics from the area.

The locals complained that the teens constantly disrupted the harmony between the Hausa and Yoruba populations with their fights and cult-related activities.

Many of the teens selling drugs at the den are homeless, and the residents have reported that they cause a lot of trouble in the neighborhood.

A community leader in Sabo, Yusuf Kamorudeen underlined that multiple efforts to send the youths away from the location have proved unsuccessful as they always regrouped and returned to the place.

He stated, “We are sick and weary of having these boys around our neighborhood. They will start acting out and causing trouble once they’ve smoked something that’s out of their system.

We’re in greater proximity to the drug dealing spots. That means they always come to us first when they want to start a fight. Many of them, despite their young age, are members of various cults.

They continue to bring their cult problems here. One of these cult members was shot and murdered near the train tracks once, I seem to recall. Our neighborhood is in danger, and we can’t stop it.

Abass Babalola, another local, has asked the government for help in getting the boys out of the facility.

Mr. Babalola asserted that many people had been robbed while traveling routes in the vicinity of drug dens on their way home from work.

“Many residents of the villages have been robbed on the route that links our two areas.

“Many of us don’t pass this road at night even when we know it is the fastest path.

After 9 o’clock at night, commercial motorcyclists will avoid the road in favor of a more circuitous alternative. We’re asking for the government’s assistance so that we can drive them out of town.

The Mayas family shares their future aspirations.

Meanwhile, the secretary of the Abiola’s family, Rahmon Abiola claimed plans were underway to transform the place to a Niger Delta University because it is closer to the Ogun River.

However, he assured that the family will work with the NDLEA and the police to remove any drug users from the premises.

A sawmill that spans the width and length of the land may be seen near the Mayas Hotel, he said. So, daily action occurs at that site. It’s Abeokuta’s largest sawmill.

I’ve been there, and there’s a plan in the works; a university is moving there from the Niger Delta because of its proximity to the Ogun River.

The family secretary responded, “All these stories you’re saying, I don’t know about it, but I can assure you that I will consult with the NDLEA man in Abeokuta and the Commissioner of Police.” This was in response to a question about whether or not the family knows the extent of the drug activity taking place on the property. I’ll make sure that smokers leave; we’re not in the drug trade.

We must guard our reputation. We are not storing any drug place. Butchers and sawmill workers were the predominant businesses I encountered throughout my visit.

However, a university is moving in, and we plan to turn the remaining land into a large estate.

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