Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Confessions of a Pastor Who Smoked Cannabis for 15 Years

Calabar — How often do you meet a truly repented smoker? Perhaps not often! One strange thing is that many of those that claim to have repented from taking hard drugs or even cigarette are often unable to completely regain their health!

The major cause of insanity among young people today, some versed people and medical experts say, are traceable to the heavy consumption of Indian hemp and other hard drugs which reason government agencies are battling hard to tame.

Frank Ini claimed he was a chronic smoker of cannabis, cigarette and Indian hemp for 15 years and got fed up.

Despite his age which he said was 64, Ini who hails from Akwa Ibom State, looks bulky and fit.

Frank said he smoked cannabis, marijuana or Indian hemp for several years but there was no one who had the courage to confront him over it, not even his elders.

Having come out of chronic smoking and drinking, the grandfather and a pastor of a Deeper Life Bible Church branch in Calabar now wants to discourage young people from encountering what he passed through in life.

He expressed, "I want to share the terrible experiences I had as a marijuana smoker. I lived in Jos, Plateau State where I was a chronic smoker for 15 years. "That time in Jos, life was seemingly good and the peculiar weather there influenced me to smoke. I want to sincerely thank God that at that time I was intensely smoking I did not get mentally sick".

Ini said police rather helped him to intensify his smoking habit instead of cautioning him. But it was the same police that nearly did him in!

He said, "To show you the extent of corruption in the country, at that time, I was a friend of one DPO [Divisional Police Officer].

"He had his office upstairs while we would stay downstairs and smoke because we would settle him at the end of the day. I was very lucky that I was not arrested by the same police officers."

Frank said that he was apprehensive of the police though the DPO was his friend because of the "returns" they made to him. He said then, if any smoker was arrested with Indian hemp they risked being jailed for 10 years.

He recalled that one day, he had some wraps of hemp in his bags and still wanted to go out to buy more. "But luckily enough for me, as I branched to enter where it was sold somebody tapped me on the back and said, "don't enter, don't enter."

Policemen had laid siege at the place and they picked up his associates and suppliers. They coughed up money through their noses to be set free. Some of them were sentenced to lengthy years of imprisonment.

Ini said many suffered various consequences. For him, it was usually chest pains again and again.

"My ailment was usually chest pains and cough. One funny thing happened to me at a point when I tried to stop smoking: the chest pain would become excruciating and it would be continuously.

"Funny enough, when the chest pain comes and I began to smoke again, it would just go away! Was this telling me that it was not going to be easy for me to withdraw?"

But was it his efforts to stop smoking or it came naturally from the effect of the gospel? "Take note" he said, "What you forsake, don't go back to it. The important thing is to 'dismantle the bridge when you cross if not you would want to use that same bridge again to return!

"One day, in my own case, I saw an old friend who thought I was still in the old life and invited me out. But I told him that I was no longer into such lifestyle. Truly, the guy won me over and I saw myself enmeshed in what I fled from!

"But because I had strong urge to stop smoking, I summoned courage and God was with me.

"I noticed that when I stopped initially I became weak. That was over 30 years ago.

"But now, I am strong and I feel even better. I feel freer.

"I think I want to link my ability to completely stop smoking following my attendance at a church event where the pastor preached to my soul. I think the theme was something like 'seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven and all other things shall be added unto you...' I began to adhere to what the pastor said and after sometime... "

Asked if there are any special benefits derivable from smoking Indian hemp and such hard drugs, Ini said to a mad man suffering is his own kind of enjoyment.

"I can tell you that there is absolutely no benefits to derive from smoking either Indian hemp or marijuana.

"But as young people, we think when we have women around us and a stick of cigarette between our lips and some bottles, we think we are on top of the world.

"But absolutely there's nothing in it than accumulation of dangerous agents into our system.

"I would advise our young people to avoid these things. I would not advise any young man to go into such an experience because it is one that can completely degenerate anyone," the pastor advised.

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