Many Nigerians especially youths in the northwest geo-political zone of the country are increasingly getting involved in hard drugs and by 1990 the number of youths involved and the rate of consumption became alarming. Some of the notable hard drugs are marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, heroin and other psychotropic substances such as Chinese capsules, amphetamines, codeine based cough syrups and sleeping pills such as diazepam. Some even use unclassified substances like lizard droppings, rubber solutions and sniffing of gaseous emissions of pit toilets.The common use of these hard drugs and the high rate of their consumption classified them as abuses.The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (N.D.L.E.A.) records confirm that the northwest geo-political zone of Nigeria under study here was noted for the notorious consumption of these hard drugs thereby classifying the area as hard drug abuse prone. This unwholesome practice has created intractable problems for the hard drug users, their families, communities and the Nigerian society at large. The aim of this study is toexamine the escalating issue of hard drug abuse and its negative impact on the rising security challenges in this zone. The study submits that the increasing cases of rape especially of women and minors, violent crimes, riots and social upheavals being experienced in Northern Nigeria and the Northwest Geo-political zone in particular, cannot be disassociated from the increasing rate of harddrug abuse. Facts have shown that the use of hard drugs and crime exits in a symbiotic relationship. Thus, all efforts to bring criminal activities, riots and violent clashes to the barest minimum without checkmating the proliferation of hard drugs in the society would be an exercise in futility. The methodology used is purely historical approach involving the use of oral and other primary source material as well as secondary sources.



Background to the Study

Since the dawn of the new millennium, the whole world has been exposed to various security challenges which have constituted serious threats to life and property as well as economic growth and development.Presently, one of the main catalysts of the numerous security challenges facing Nigeria is the problem of hard drug abuse.  Drugs are useful but in spite of their usefulness and popularity, the misery currently created by the abuse of hard drugs and other substances is enormous and alarming. And unless a nationally co-ordinated solution to the problem is found, hard drug abuse will soon join poverty, malnutrition, diseases and insurgency as a very serious threat to the survival of Nigeria as a nation.

Research conducted by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in 2008 in Kano has revealed that between 2005 and 2008, more than half of the people arrested for violent crimes tested positive to the use of hard drugs at the time of their arrest.Also,25% of those arrested for harddrug related offences are minors and young persons.The above statistics indicate a relationship between the use of hard drugs and the perpetration of crime and other anti-social activities in the Northwest geo-political zone and indeed all parts of Nigeria.

What this means is that harddrug abuse is a predisposing factor to the commission of many criminal offences such as murder, armed robbery, arson, rape, cultism, kidnapping and acts of terrorism in the country.While the use of hard drugs may not necessarily cause conflicts, it makes them (drug users) violent and destructive.Recently, the Borno State Governor, Kassim Shettima rightly observed that members of the BokoHaram sect were acting under the influence of hard drugs.6

This can be gleaned from the fact that hard drugs have been recovered from Boko Haram hideouts as well as from various individual criminals and groups all across the nation

The Study Area

Nigeria is situated in the West African sub-region with an estimated population of about 186,053,000 million people It has a land mass of 923,768 square kilometers and about 800 kilometers of coastline.Nigeria is made up of 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory which has the status of a state and about 250 ethnic groups with  different local dialects. However, English remains the official language.Nigeria is divided into 6 Geo-political zones namely, the Northwest, North-East, North-Central,South-West, South-East, and South-South .The North-West comprises the following states: Kano, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina and Jigawa. Incidentally, the Northwest Geopolitical zone is our focal point in this study.

The study area in particular that is, the North-West zone, is mainly made up of the Hausas, Fulani and some other minority tribes within the zone .So this is a diverse and vast region of the country. Equally diverse are their socio-economic activities. Crop farming and animal husbandry as well as a variety of commercial (trading) activities, businesses and artisan works dominates in this zone. Given the vast nature of this zone, the climate, vegetation, geographic relief and general development within this zone are similar in this area are located in the rural areas, many of them are into various agricultural activities such as farming and animal husbandry. While a number of them are into trading.

The use of hard drugs is not too prevalent in the rural areas because many of them are actively involved in one economic activity or another. The hard drugs used was mostly to enhance their economic value in farming for example, while in the urban centers, social economic activities is not as pronounced as in the rural areas.

Unemployment rate is high  and coupled with the increasing rate of rural –urban migrations the use of  hard drugs here is not for economic enhancement but according to several people interviewed, they use  hard drugs to ease their stress and worries of being unemployed. Presently within this zone, many Nigerian non-Muslim ethnic groups and foreigners like Senegalese, Togolese, Nigeriens, and Lebanese etc. can be found engaged in different economic pursuits with seriousness and vigor. For instance, Igbo men are popular in this zone for the sale of vehicle spare parts, Yoruba’s are known for expertise as motor mechanics and other skilled jobs.

Social and Economic Activity of the People

The North West region of Nigeria is made up of seven States namely: Kano, Kaduna,Katsina,Jigawa,Sokoto,Zamfara and Kebbi.Most of the peoplein the States in this area are located in the rural areas,many of them are into agricultural activities such as farming and animal husbandry.Presently within this zone, many Nigerian non-muslim ethnic groups and foreigners like Senegalese,Togolese,Nigeriens and Lebanese etc can be found engaged in different economic pursuits with seriousness and vigor.For instance,Igbo men are popular in this zone for the sale of vehicle spare parts and building materials while the Yoruba are known for their expertise as motor mechanics and tailoring jobs.

Statement of the Problem

A lot has been written about the relationship between conflict and hard drugs in Nigeria.Notably among such works are: Agwogie, M.O, DRUG ABUSE:WEEP NOT MUMMY. Ogun,(2012), Olayiwola,A.O, ADOLESCENCE HANDLE WITH CARE:curbing and coping withAdolescents problems.Kaduna,(2010).So far,the relationship between hard drug usuage and conflict has not been investigated in the North West region of Nigeria.This means that there are gaps in knowledge of the relationship between hard drug usage and conflicts in Nigeria.This study seeks to fill some of these gaps by examining the connections between hard drug usuage and conflicts  in the North West region of Nigeria.

Nigeria as a country today is bedeviled by a myriad of problems. Amongst the most pressing of these problems is that of insecurity. The problem of insecurity has been further aggravated by the menace of harddrug abuse and the consumption of other illicit substances that induce the same effects as those of hard drugs. Apart from the fact that drug abuse in general  is harmful to the human body,the use of hard drugs as, it has been discovered, facilitates criminal acts because most crimes such as armed robberies, arson, rape, kidnapping, cattle rustling and acts of terrorism, among others, are committed under the influence of hard drugs.8 It is this link between the abuse of hard drugs and violent crimes that is now a major challenge to security in Nigeria,  especially in North Western  Geo-political zone of Nigeria.Also,it is evident that perpetrators of violence andcriminal activities indulged in hard drugs.Therefore it becomes necessary to carry out a study on the abuse of hard drugs as an underlying threat to national security. It is the need to expose this problem that led to the conceptualization of this research topic.

This study seeks to remedy this inadequacy by focusing on hard drug abuseand its implications for security in the context of Northwest Geo-political zone of Nigeria.This work is therefore an attempt to contribute to the knowledge of the history of the Northwest Geo-political zone of Nigeria with a detailed study of the period 1990-2010 and how this impacted on security.

Aim and Objective of the Study

The aim of this study is to examine the impacts of hard drug abuse on national security using the North-West of Nigeria from1990-2010, as a case study, with the following objectives in mind:

  1. To identify the factors responsible for the abuse of hard drugs in Northwest Geo-political zone of Nigeria from 1990-2010.

2.To examine the wide spread or high rate of abuse of hard drugs in the North-Western Nigeria from 1990-2010.

  1. To assess the impact of hard drug abuse on the socio-economic life of the people of the North-West Geo-political zone of Nigeria.
  2. To examine the impact of hard drug abuse in the North-West Geo-political zone of Nigeria on national security.

Justification of the Study

By embarking on this research area, it is expected that this study would contribute to the body of academic work on the history of the Northwestern part of Nigeria.It is expected that this study would draw the attention of more researchers to this area of study.The governments of the states in the Northwestern area would  find this study relevant and its information on the prevalence of  hard drugs and hard drug abuse which may require the review of government’s hard drug laws.It  also may require a change in strategies by internal security agencies on  hard drug related matters.

Scope and Limitation of the Study

This study covers the period 1990-2010. The year 1990 is important because before 1990,there was no specific Government Agency that was charged with the responsibility of checking the menace of hard drug abuse and trafficking in the country. Therefore,the establishment of the NDLEA in 1990 marked a turning point in the health history of Nigeria and an attempt to check the growing menace of hard drug abuse and trafficking by Nigerians which at this time was already becoming a major threat to national security in reference to hard drug abuse, while hard drug trafficking by Nigerians, had placed the nation in a bad light on the international arena.In addition by 1990, Nigeria also joined the list of countries that established a specific body for drug law enforcement.The terminal date, 2010 is relevant because that was the year the NDLEA marked its second decade of existence. Also, this date (i.e.2010) witnessed the highest numbers of arrests of drug suspects since the establishment of the NDLEA. While on the international arena, the year 2010 was when Nigeria was permanently delisted from the drug major list.9This implied that Nigeria was no longer seen as a threat globally in relation to the issue of hard drugs having recognized her effort in combating this growing menace of hard drug abuse and trafficking by the NDLEA.

The study has limited its scope only to Nigeria with emphasis on the major urban cities in the North-west Geo-political zone of Nigeria. The consumption of hard drugs as well as other unclassified but intoxicating substances has been shown to be very high and increasing at an alarming rate in this Geo – political zone.10 This study goes beyond the general perception of  harddrug abuse but examines the challenges of the rising rate of criminal activities and its concomitant spillover effect on national security. In the course of preparing this work, this writer faced a number of limitations but with determination and zeal to succeed, these limitations where overcome.

The first limitation was difficulty in   getting access to documents considered as classified. The NDLEA is a security organization dealing with sensitive information and documents on individual, organizations, corporate bodies, politicians, top government officials and diplomats. However, this challenge was overcome due to the fact that a number of staffs of the Agency have worked tirelessly to provide all the necessary information or contacts required to make this study fruitful.


The second limitation was difficulty in   interviewing individuals who   were undergoing hard drug rehabilitation, hard drug suspects in custody and as well as well-meaning individuals and groups within the society. To get to interview these individuals under rehabilitation and hard drug suspects in custody was not an easy task. Apart from the fact that there was need to obtain clearance, the subjects to be interviewed mostly proved uncooperative.They sought to know why they were chosen to beinterviewed; the purpose of collecting their bio-data and some were of the opinion that it was a ploy by the NDLEA to gather information that might be used against them. It became necessary to use every diplomatic means to convince them that this exercise was purely for academic research and would by no means hurt them. This long drawn out process and appeal to them patiently yielded positive results. These individuals are the main crux of the series of outlined interviews. They are the victims of drug abuse thus, providing first-hand information and clear insight into the world of a hard   drug addict.

Yet another challenge in the course of the study was how to interview groups or individuals who are considered to be drug users and in most cases, irrational in their thinking and behavior and thus very dangerous to mingle with. These people are not under any incarceration, rehabilitation or arrest but are just roaming the streets from one drug joint to another wild and dangerous. Some of these groups are known to belong to criminal gangs like the yandaba, some are motor park touts, and some are hard drug addicts and dealers while some are prostitutes hooked on drugs. The need to get close and personal with them so as to tap into their wealth of information on either drug using or drug dealing without putting myself in harm’s way was a very delicate task to handle.

However, this aspect was handled through the use of paid informants who could move freely within the cycle of these groups. Thus, gradually with the informant always by my side, the researcher was able to learn the habits, code-words, slangs and other traits of these groups that later on created an atmosphere of belongingness. The end result was an acceptance of the motive of the researcher and thus, they remarkably gave up a whole lot of valuable information that has helped to propel this research forward.

Research Methodology

This researcher generated information from primary and secondary sources.For the primary sources the writer conducted individual and group interviews in the area and recorded the proceedings in electronic devices and in long hand in note books. Those interviewed were purposively selected and included drug addicts both those undergoing counseling and those on the streets,drug dealers,security personnel,government officials,businessmen and religious leaders and so on.For secondary sources,this writer consulted books,journals,seminar papers among others.The findings of this study are presented in the descriptive and analytical approach.


1        E.C., Emordi and A.E., Emordi, “The State and the security challenge in contemporary   Nigeria” in Nigerian Defence and Security, Essays in Commemoration of Nigerian Defence Academy Golden Jubilee, (ed.)  0.E., Tangban, C.C.C., Osakwe, S.O., Okeniyi, H.E., Ayamasaowei, Kaduna: Nigerian Defehce Academy, 2014, p.3.

2          “NDLEA probes drug barons for Boko Haram links” Sunday Punch, June 30th, 2013. p.5.

3          .A.,0tu,”Drug:Trafficking and National Security”(Lecture delivered at the Abia State
Polytechnic Ant-drug awareness workshop, Aba, Abia State, 20th June,2012). p.4

4          S. A., Namalam, “Drug Abuse and Effects” (Lecture delivered at the weekly in-house lecture series of the FRSC, Abuja, 2-8-2011).

5          A., Otu, “Drug Trafficking and…, p.4.

6          M., Desmond, “Bloody Day for Boko Haram” The Guardian, Tuesday, September 24th, 2013,      p:I6.

7          A. Agbe & .M. Anmasu- suka “Rise in crime: Kaduna police nab 458 suspects in 10days   “Daily Trust, Saturday, April 16,2016,

8          W. Sadare, ” Why Nigeria was Delisted from US Drug List” The Guardian, Sunday 13thFebruary, 2011, p.6

9          National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Annual Report:2000-2010.p21.

10        A.O, Ahmed, Social Science, Vol., 7, 2011. p.2.

  1. Ibid.

12        M. H. Babangida, “The Search for National Security in Nigeria: Challenges and prospect” (paper Presented at Obafemei Awolowo Institute of Government and Public Policy, Lagos,) 2012.p.2.

13        .B. J. Audu, ” Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Nigeria: Implications on National Security, ” in Nigerian Defense and Security; Essays in ComMemoration of Nigerian Defense Academy Golden Jublee, (ed.) by 0. E. Tangban, C.C.C. Osakwe, S.O. Okeniyi, H, E. Ayamaowei, Kaduna: Nigerian Defense Academy, 2014, pp.346.

14        Y.G., Dogo, “The Role of Religious Education in promoting peace Education forNational Security and Transformation in Nigeria,” Badala Journal of Arts and social Sciences, Vol. 9, no., July, 2013, p.24.

  • worldhealthorganisation (assessed on January 20, 2015)
  • N., Ohanyere, DRUG KNOWLEDGE FOR SCHOOLS, Lagos; Arthill publishers Limited, 2012, p.6.
  • NDLEA 2010 Annual Report, p.21.
  • N. Ohanyere Drug Knowledge …p.16
  • NDLEA 2010.:..,p.17
  • A., Babangida, “The search for National Security in Nigeria: challenges and prospect” (paper presented at Obafemi Awolowo Institute of Government and Public Policy, Lagos) 2012.p2
  • J. Audu “Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Nigeria: Implications

On National Security” in Nigerian Defense and Security :Essays in Commemoration of Nigerian Defense Academy Golden Jubilee.(ed.) by O.E. Tangban, C.C.C., Osakwe, S.O. Okeniyi, H.E., Ayamasaowei, Kaduna: Nigerian Defense Academy,2004,pp.346.

  1. Y.G. Dogo, “The Role of Religious Education in Promoting Peace Education For National Security and Transformation in Nigeria” ,Badala Journal of Arts and Social Sciences,vol.9,no. 9,July 2013, p.24.

24        wwvv.worldhealthorganisation (accessed on January 20,2015).

25           .A.N. Ohanyere, Drug Knowledge for…, p12

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