ACTIVITIES of drug barons now generate toxic wastes in parts of Lagos and Anambra States, forcing the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to seal off five houses and locations in the affected areas. The locations, according to the drug agency, have become contaminated and unfit for human habitation. To run the illegal drug laboratories, Nigerian drug barons hired three Bolivians and a Columbian to whom they make weekly payment of $35,000 just to retain their services. The agency said the “scary issue” is reminiscent of the case of an Italian businessman, Gianfranco Rafaelli, who shipped over 8,000 drums of toxic wastes into the country 25 years ago.
The NDLEA identified materials, toxic and volatile chemicals that could cause explosion. Many of these materials were loosely stored in toilets and bedrooms. Director-General of the agency, Otunba Femi Ajayi, said the proliferation of hard drugs might have accelerated the wave of crime in Nigeria. Wastes of mercury, lead and hydrogen were carelessly discharged in the surroundings and public drain. One of the production centres in Lagos is sighted very close to borehole supplying water to the neighbourhood. A withered tree, suspected to have been “attacked” by toxic chemical used in formulating methamphetamine, a hard drug on the restriction list of the United Nations member states, was noticed in one of the compounds in Anambra State.
According to experts, Nigerians with cases of asthma, tuberculosis and related health conditions could have their situations compounded if they continue living close to the location. Even those without health conditions are very vulnerable to toxic effect of the drug formulation,” the Agency said. In fact, there is a particular scary case in Anambra, where the drug baron cited his production facility in the basement of his house, just beside his mother’s bedroom and those of other family members. The sites, according to experts, may not be habitable for years and may end up being demolished.
Anti-narcotics agents, two weeks ago, expressed the fear that illicit drug money entering Nigeria could be used to fester insurgencies, similar to the case in Mexico, Colombia and Afghanistan. Already, NDLEA has been having discussions with environmental and drug experts at the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), United States and Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) on how to decontaminate the houses and sites used for hard drugs production.
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