The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Edo State has apprehended 73 suspected cannabis cultivators and dealers with 10,094.75kgs of cannabis.
The anti-narcotic agency disclosed that those arrested include 60 males and 13 females and that the arrest and seizures took place between January and March 2016.
The agency added that a cannabis laden Toyota Hilux and a J5 Bus with cannabis disguised as pineapple shipment were also impounded.
According to NDLEAA cannabis warehouse located at Okpuje forest, Owan West Local Government Area was detected by the agency and that 2,590kgs of cannabis were seized.
Cannabis warehouse located at Okpuje forest, Owan West Local Government Area, Edo State.
It also revealed that four notorious drug dealers at Ekpoma, Auchi and Benin as well as five young farmers from Taraba and Plateau States were among those being investigated for cannabis cultivation and trafficking by narcotic undercover operatives in Benin City.
The agency added that following the arrests and seizures, the Edo State command exhibit room is already filled to capacity with over 80,000kgs of cannabis.
Speaking on the development, the Chief Executive of NDLEA, Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah, vowed to identify arrest and prosecute cannabis cultivators.
According to him, “Edo State is a cannabis producing state. It is equally an important catchment area to us because it is strategically located in a way that drug dealers either come to buy or convey their illicit drugs across the State. This must come to an end”.
The NDLEA boss commended the command for the arrests and seizures and urged them to intensify efforts at eradicating cannabis cultivation, trafficking and abuse in the State.
“This scorecard is impressive and commendable. I want you to sustain your winning strategies. Be focused, undeterred and intensify efforts in detecting more cannabis farms and warehouses. Illicit drug production, trafficking and abuse must be eradicated” Abdallah stated.
He warned against the use of school age youths in cannabis plantations and called for the support of stakeholders at all levels in the anti-narcotics campaign.
The Edo State Commander of the NDLEA, Mr. Buba Wakawa, stated that efforts were ongoing to sanitise Edo of illicit drugs.
In his words, “A total of 73 suspects with 10,094.75kg of cannabis were arrested in the first quarter of the year in the State. The premises of four suspected major drug dealers were raided. They are Zakari Ogie, 38 years old a.k.a. Kowa, Solomon Alegbe, 34 years old, Famous Ossai, 32 years old and Juliana Ogiefa, 60 years old. A Toyota Hilux containing 253kg of cannabis was impounded at Sabongida-Ora. A fake State Security Service identity card with the name Daniel Okolo was found in the Hilux. Two cannabis dealers from Sokoto, Umar Abubakar and Shuaibu Garba were caught with 1,026.5kgs of cannabis in a J5 Bus covered with pineapples”.
The commander stated that Mr. Zakari Ogie a.k.a. Kowa, the owner of Kowa-Denasa Guest House in Auchi was arrested with 500 grammes of cannabis and 6.6kg of alcohol mixed with cannabis.
He added that the agency had received several petitions that Kowa-Denasa Guest House is used as a hideout for criminals, who smoke cannabis and unleash terror on innocent citizens and that the residence of Famous Ossai was raided and 6.5kg of cannabis was recovered.
At Ekpoma, the premises of Mr. Solomon Alegbe was raided and 900 grammes of cannabis and 2 litres of alcohol mixed with cannabis was recovered in the presence of his wife, Mrs. Solomon Alegbe Loveth.
According to the agency the drug was hidden in a hole neatly covered with floor tiles in the sitting room, adding that although Solomon was not at home at the time of the operation, the agency is working assiduously to get him arrested and prosecuted.
Also arrested according to the agency is 60 year-old Juliana Ogiefa, who had been charged for dealing in substances found to be cocaine and heroin, only to be rearrested while on bail.
The NDLEA stated that it was pressing two separate charges against her at the Federal High Court sitting in Benin with the hope that her illicit drug activities in the State would be terminated.
Zakari Ogie accepted ownership of the cannabis found in his guest house.
In his statement, he said that “I am a business man and owner of Kowa-Denasa Guest House in Auchi. I was in my Guest House when NDLEA officers came and demanded to search my house and premises. In the process they found 500 grammes of cannabis and 6.6kg of alcohol mixed with cannabis also called monkey tail. The cannabis found in my Guest House belongs to me”.
In the same vein, five young farmers from Taraba and Plateau States were caught at a cannabis farm at Utesse forest, Ovia South Local Government Area of the State.
According to the NDLEA, the suspects were offered N70, 000 each to farm cannabis for a season.
He listed the suspects to include: Jonathan Macus, 28 years, Ayuba Clement 20 years and Sani John 29 years from Taraba State as well as Laso Danladi 22 years and John Danladi both from Plateau State.
The command arrested one Ifije Ojeue at Okpuje forest at Owan West Local Government Area with 2,590kgs of cannabis.
The NDLEA stated that he was the manager of the warehouse where an officer almost lost his life, pointing out that on the way to the warehouse located at Okpuje forest, the officer narrowly escaped a deadly trap capable of amputating his legs.
The commander highlighted several challenges faced by officers in the discharge of their job.
In his words, “we have been engaged in a shootout with drug dealers. Due to our superior fire power, we always subdue them. Many fire arms have been recovered from cannabis dealers in the State. During the raid on this cannabis warehouse at Okpuje forest at Owan, an officer was caught by a trap but was lucky to escape with minor injuries. These are very dangerous traps that can cut off a human leg in a split second”.