Officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Oyo State had apprehended seven cannabis cultivators including two Togolese. Cannabis plantation measuring 80.93 hectares was also destroyed. The farms were discovered based on intelligence report by kind hearted members of the public at Tola village in Akinyele Local Government Area bordering Ijeerun village in Ido Local Government Area of the State. The suspected seven cannabis farmers were apprehended inside tents at the cannabis plantations.
Other major farmers are being hunted by the NDLEA in the State over their alleged illegal cultivation of cannabis. Authorities stated that the plantation is the largest ever discovered by the Oyo command. The State Commander, Mr. Suleiman Jadi said that his command was very happy with the discovery and subsequent destruction of the farms. “We are very pleased with this operation considering the size of the plantation. It means that supply will be drastically reduced. What we have done is to attack the source of supply. Seven major cannabis farmers including two Togolese were successfully arrested in connection with the plantation. Nine others are also on our wanted list” Jadi stated.
He gave the names of the suspects as Ali Wasiu, 23, a Togolese, Kojo Benjamin, 25, Togolese, Godwin Liwhu, 56, from Cross River State and Lawrence Akeh, 35, also from Cross River. Others are Raphael Abejide, 33, from Kogi State, Gabriel Okedotun, 30, from Oyo State and Sylvester Indo, 47, from Cross River State. Challenges facing the command according to Jadi include lack of operational vehicles and funds.
“This terrain is rough and we need hilux vehicles to penetrate deep into the forest. We also need funds for operations of this magnitude. What we do is to pay workers to destroy the farms because it is very large. Ideally we need helicopters for the destruction. This is a very difficult task if it is manually done but we have to accomplish it” Jadi stated.
The commander stressed that between January and October 2011, the State Command had arrested 213 suspected drug dealers with a seizure of 15,243.582kg of cannabis. Among the suspects, 32 had been convicted by the courts and other cases are pending. Cannabis users that had been successfully counselled are 63 while others are currently undergoing counselling and rehabilitation. Two cannabis plantations had been previously destroyed within the year in Oluyole Local Government Area of the State. One measured about 4 hectares at Ibuso Forest and another 20 hectares at Gambari Forest Reserve.
Chairman/Chief Executive of the Agency Ahmadu Giade called on members of the public not to withhold information on drug barons from the Agency as nobody is immune to the activities of drug cartels. “Cannabis cultivation affects food security in the country. I therefore appeal to all stakeholders not to withhold information that will enhance our operations. Imagine the negative impact if this farm was not discovered by the Agency. Our economy will not only suffer, even innocent citizens will ultimately be affected” Giade stressed.
Some of the farmers during interrogation gave reasons for their involvement in the alleged crime. One of the major cannabis cultivators Godwin Liwhu, 56 year old said that cannabis plant offers rare benefits like huge profit and short maturity period.
NDLEA findings revealed that Godwin Liwhu invited the two Togolese to work in the farms and personally gave over half of the cannabis plantation to other farmers on lease. He was found to have solicited for the use of the land for cultivation of food and cash crops from the natives. When asked why he decided to cultivate cannabis, Godwin said it offers high profit. “It is easy to sell and matures in few months time. Cannabis does not need fertilizer and pest control. It is also cheaper to maintain” Godwin stated.
No doubt, the Agency requires resources to carry out massive education of farmers as well as provide improved seedlings to encourage the cultivation of food and cash crops. Meanwhile, the suspects will soon be charged to court.