Mkpuru Mmiri has had heavy negative impact on the youth of South-East Nigeria.
On December 1, 2021, the governors of the Southeast region of Nigeria held an emergency virtual meeting after which they released a joint statement stating their commitment to fight against the problem of hard drugs in the region, especially the new one called Methamphetamine (Meth for short) and locally known as Mkpuru Mmiri in the Southeast. The statement was signed by the governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, and Chairman of the Southeast Governors’ Forum.
Further, on the 4th of November 2021, a young man of 27 years named Darlington Ugboaja was beaten to death by his fellow youths at Anara market in Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State. This caused panic among traders in the market who hurriedly locked their stores out of dread for vengeance from the victim’s loved ones. The story goes that the young man was seen exiting from a bunk where drugs were known to be sold and this aroused suspicions that he had mkpuru mmiri in his possession. Upon searching him, those suspicions were confirmed, and he was immediately tied to an electric pole and beaten to the point of unconsciousness. He was pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital.
The forgoing provides evidence that the consumption of Methamphetamine or mkpuru mmiri has become a menace in Southeastern Nigeria. This is because of the widespread adverse side effects of the drug among young people in the region, which has become greatly visible. A lot of young people in the region have been said to have run mad due to excess consumption of the hard drug. Alternatively, other young people carry out all sorts of strange acts under the euphoric influence of the substance and this has increased the rate of crime and all manners of abuse in the region. For example, a young man was recently found guilty of beheading his father in a bid to obtain the older man’s fifty thousand naira for the purpose of purchasing mkpuru mmiri.
However, it is encouraging to note that the youths of various Igbo communities have mobilized themselves and taken up the task of stamping out the menace from their respective communities, and the region at large. This is the explanation behind various videos that have recently surfaced on the Nigerian internet space, where consumers of mkpuru mmiri are tied to a heavy beam or a tree and flogged mercilessly. The idea is to severely punish anyone who consumes the substance, or who has any form of ties to it. This also corresponds to the later decision of the Southeast Governors’ Forum to confiscate any shop or location where drugs are sold, as well as arrest and punish individuals found to be in possession of it. In the same way, the Indigenous People of Biafra IPOB) group have declared an all-out war against the substance in the region and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) declared that it has put a spotlight on the southeast region in its fight against the consumption of hard drugs in Nigeria.
Questions have however been raised about the efficacy of flogging Meth addicts in the region and this has been followed with the suggestion that rehabilitation of its users is a better option. Although this course of action comes with some setbacks such as a possibility of relapse by the addict, it is considered to be a more effective approach towards helping Meth users drop the harmful habit. The statement of the Southeastern Governors’ Forum also expresses commitment to this course of action. However, the flogging and punishment of mkpuru mmiri users is still widespread and have enjoyed a lot of support from prominent southeastern personalities such as the renowned filmmaker Ugezu J. Ugezu.
Whether the agreed approach towards stopping the usage of mkpuru mmiri will be severe and punitive, or more humane and compassionate, or both, the dealers and producers of this harmful substance should definitely be made to face the full force of the law. This raises the question of how the substance got into the region in the first place.
Three theories have been identified so far: first is that the substance came into the region from the northern part of Nigeria, second is that some Mexican cartels have found their way into Nigeria and have built factories where mkpuru mmiri is produced and from which it is circulated; the third theory is that Igbo drug lords who can no longer deal drugs in foreign countries (such as Malaysia, South Africa, etc) due to the increasingly harsh drug laws have decided to come back and set up shop at home.
Also underlying these theories is fear of the possibility of a politically motivated and concerted effort to decimate the region by pumping the substance therein. This is also in light of the fact that while the drug might be in use in other regions of Nigeria, the southeast region evidently has highest consumption, and therefore circulation rates of the substance. Indeed, whether politically motivated or not, the truth is that if the menace of mkpuru mmiri continues in southeastern Nigeria at this rate, the region will lose political credibility in the long run and its chances of social and economic stability will be destroyed. The use of mkpuru mmiri or methamphetamine needs to be eradicated immediately and the perpetrators punished.
Mkpuru mmiri (literal translation is “seed of water” or ice) is the Igbo slang for methamphetamine or meth, due to its resemblance to small blocks of ice. It is a highly addictive substance which can dissolve in any liquid and usually appears white or transparent in color. It can also be blue in color sometimes. Its side effects include anxiety, loss of appetite, confusion, insomnia, mood swings, and violent behavior. Also, an mkpuru mmiri addict’s looks can suddenly change, causing them to age quickly, and have dull skin. They can also develop hard-to-heal sores and pimples and may have a dry mouth and stained, broken, or rotting teeth.
According to Punch, a person addicted to mkpuru mmiri may also become paranoid and start hallucinating. They could also think of hurting themselves or others and may feel as though insects are crawling on or under their skin. The substance can also cause a spike in a person’s body temperature that they could pass out or even die.
It has been reported that its users see it as a sort of escape from thinking about the hopeless situation of the country, hence its continued and rampant usage.
Featured Image Source: Punch NG