NDLEA destroys 30,992kgs of cannabis in Osun
Cartels invade forest reserves
Officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have destroyed 2,317 bags of cannabis weighing 30,992kilogrammes.
Sixty-seven bags were also transferred to Osun State Command of the NDLEA for further investigation and prosecution.
The cannabis would also serve as evidence against 11 suspected farmers arrested during operation inside cannabis plantation.
The exhibits with an estimated street value of N309, 000,000 were found in 27 camps used as storage facilities located within a farmland at Orita-Ijebu forest reserve, Ikoyi area of Ikire in Ayedade Local Council of Osun State.
The agency noted that drug cartels had invaded government forest reserves for the cultivation of cannabis.
According to the Chairman, Muhammad Abdallah, concerted efforts were needed to stop cannabis cultivation while farmers should be encouraged to cultivate food and economic crops.
“Unless the current trend of cannabis cultivation is addressed, the country is on the verge of a devastating food insecurity. It is worrisome that the cartels are using government forest reserves to cultivate cannabis. Stakeholders must strategise on how to increase food production and prevent criminal organisations from diverting arable farmland for cannabis cultivation. A situation where food and cash crops are paving the way for cannabis plant portends danger and deserves urgent attention”.
The raid operation code-named ‘Operation Herb Spring’ was in response to an intelligence received by the agency on the activities of cannabis cultivators in the forest. Subsequently, the Chairman directed the Special Enforcement Team led by Mr. Sunday Zirangey to coordinate the operation.
The suspects arrested in connection with the cannabis cultivation were Kofi Mensah, Godwin Monday, Albert Williams Aniama, Enudi Liberty Onyeka and Peter Nelson. Others included Harrison Ewoka Francis, Ossai Nelson, Sulaiman Niyi, Dominic Tobechukwu, Mutiu Kolawole and Chucks Oghenekwu.
Abdallah described the operation as a victory for the NDLEA because the farmers had done all the work by harvesting and processing the cannabis awaiting evacuation from the farms.
“It was a perfect timing for the agency and a painful loss to the drug barons. They had packed the cannabis in bags waiting for shipment when we raided. The agency will continue to launch similar attacks on drug trafficking cartels until they are completely defeated”.
He recommended a review of laws relating to forest reserves, critical appraisal of the functions of forest guards as well as effective monitoring of the forests.
According to NDLEA spokesman, Mitchel Ofoyeju, all the suspects would be arraigned soon.