Barely 24 hours after the Chairman of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), retired Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa, ordered a nationwide clamp down on Nitrous Oxide, also known as laughing gas, operatives of the anti-narcotics agency have intercepted 64,863kg of the inhalational anesthetic in Lagos and Imo.
Nitrous oxide which is generally safe to use for medical and dental procedure, however, youths and fun-seekers now abuse it to feel intoxicated.
Mr Femi Babafemi, the spokesman for the agency said on Friday that on July 12, following credible intelligence report, swung into action and intercepted two containers marked MSKU 7626856 and MSKU 7689448, suspected to contain cartons of Nitrous Oxide, imported from China.
He said to ascertain the content and quantity of what was in the container,
a joint examination of the containers was carried out by NDLEA officers, men of the Customs Service, and other stakeholders the following day, Thursday, July 13.
“During the search of the two containers, a total of 522 cartons of Nitrous Oxide, containing 16,366 packages weighing 64,852kgs were recovered along with the paraphernalia for recreational use.”
The spokesperson also said in another major gain, the agency recovered 64, 863.5 kilograms of laughing gas at the Apapa seaport in Lagos and Imo State.
“Barely 24 hours after the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (retd) directed all commands and formations of the Agency to begin an immediate clampdown on the illegal sale and use of nitrous oxide, otherwise known as “laughing gas” following its abuse by people who use it for recreational purposes, over 64, 863.5 kilograms of the gaseous substance were intercepted at the Apapa seaport in Lagos and in Imo state.
“In the same vein, NDLEA operatives on patrol along Owerri – Onitsha expressway in Imo state on Thursday 13th July intercepted three cartons containing 18 canisters of the same substance weighing 11.5kg heading to Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
“A swift follow-up operation was conducted in the stadium road area of Elekahia, Port Harcourt same day leading to the arrest of the owner of the shipment, 24-year-old Tonye Kalio,” Persecondnews quotes Babafemi as saying.
The long term side effects of prolonged exposure to Nitrous Oxide include memory loss, numbness in the hands or feet, weakened immune systems and psychosis.
Persecondnews recalls that a disturbing report by the agency in 2021 pointed out that over 40 per cent of Nigerian youths within the ages of 18 and 35 are deeply involved in drug abuse.