Pubdate: Sun, 01 Feb 2009
Source: This Day (Nigeria)
Copyright: 2009 This Day.
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


The South West zone of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA)
recently converged on Abeokuta, Ogun State capital on awareness campaign
on the prevention of illicit drug crop cultivation, trafficking and abuse.
Jaiyeola Andrews, who was at the event writes

Illicit drug trafficking is one of the vices plaguing the society. While
the agencies are working hard against the influx of illicit drug in the
society, drug barons and couriers device novel strategies daily to beat
the traps of the agency. In Nigeria for example, despite all efforts made
by NDLEA to stamp out illicit drug trafficking, abuse and cultivations,
drug traffickers chose to look the other way, and often pay the price with
their lives.

Scores of Nigerian, who were arrested on hard drug related offences, are
rotting away in prisons outside the shore of their father's land, waiting
to face the hang man noose. This development, no doubt cast a dark cloud
on the nation's image in the world community.

The South West region has been described by NDLEA as one of the main hubs
of illicit drug in the country, as a total of 196.5 acres of cannabis
farmland was discovered and destroyed last year alone. While between
January and October 992 drug suspects were arrested, 223 prosecuted, and
total seizure of hard drugs stood at 175,835.53 kilogrammes.

The revelation, may have informed why the agency in the zone, stormed
Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, to create awareness through a workshop, on
the evil associated with drug trafficking, abuse and cultivation, as well
as the urgent need to rid the society of the vices.

Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Alhaji Ahmadu Giade said "the drug
problem is a major threat to our socio-political and economic wellbeing;
and if we do not deal with it decisively as expected from all of us,
posterity will not forgive us. The reality of this whole situation is that
the South West geo-political area of our country has gained notoriety as
one of the major areas of the country where cannabis is cultivated in
massive proportion."

He said it was unfortunate, that the natural wealth of the nation is
slowly being lost to the cultivation of cannabis sativa [Indian hemp],
adding that forest reserves had also been penetrated with connivance of
some bad elements.

Giade told participants at the workshop which was held at the cultural
centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, that the anti-illicit drug campaign in the zone,
was to solicit the support, and seek the hands of fellowship of all
stakeholders in the agency's war against drug trafficking, abuse and

The NDLEA boss stressed the need for the people to be regularly educated
on the effects of illicit drug cultivation, trafficking and abuse. He
noted that knowledge about the harmful effects of drug was one of the keys
towards ridding the society of the scourge.

On the upsurge in cannabis cultivation in the South West, he attributed it
to the handwork of some desperate individuals, saying the trend was
unacceptable to the agency, and it would do everything possible to reverse
it. According to Giade, "if drug barons are allowed to operate unfettered,
it is the society that will bear the brunt on the long run. This is true
because, while the number of drug addicts is increasing, the baron is
smiling to the banks."

Referring to drug barons as the number one enemies of the nation, the
agency's boss assured that the agency would not rest on its oars until
they are totally flushed out of the system. He bemoaned a situation where
only drug traffickers are made target of arrest, rather than the barons.
In this wise, Giade solicited the cooperation of members of the public to
endeavour to provide the agency useful information that could lead to the
arrest of drug barons.

When THISDAY sampled the views of some participants at the workshop, the
agency was advised to form a strong alliance with those in charge of
forest reserves, with a view to put in place machinery that could ensure
constant patrol of these forest reserves. They said that the long stay
away from forest reserves by authorities concern, gave room to the massive
cultivation of cannabis. They added that if the forests are adequately
monitored, suspicious movements of such farmers would be detected.

However, the agency boss hinted that the workshop was a veritable platform
in taking war against drug to a higher level. Stressing that the
anti-narcotic agency, "seek to provoke an aggressive spirit of opposition
against enemies of the state, that is, the drug barons and their army of

Expressing dismay in the ratings of South West in cannabis cultivation,
Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State hinted that it has become imperative
to address the drug problem, and transform the current status of the
region to an enviable position of a drug free region. He said the region
is noted for cash crop production, academic excellence, sports and
legitimate ventures, noting that the negative trend occasioned by the
activities of drug barons and traffickers must be arrested, as it was
giving the region a bad name.

"If you care to investigate the root cause of this problem, you will
discover that it is motivated by greed and desire to make quick money even
at the expense of the society. This must not be allowed to continue.
Efforts must be properly channeled to identify these unscrupulous persons
and bring them to book," Daniel said.

The Governor assured on the readiness of his government, to deepen its
relationship with the agency. While noting that drugs and crime are
interrelated, since criminals relies on influence of drug to carry out
their nefarious activities, the war against the scourge must be fought
with the urgency it deserves.

He however expressed delight, over the statistics of arrests and seizures
made by the agency in the South West region. Promising that his
administration would provide necessary assistance in the area of
operational vehicles and communication equipments, as the gesture would in
no small measures contribute to the reversal of the trend.

Daniel disclosed that he would go a step further to discuss with his
colleagues governors on how best they could collectively address the
problem. He called on all stakeholders to embrace NDLEA's campaign to rid
the region of illicit drug cultivation, trafficking and abuse.

He said this was necessary, because the consequences of illicit drug
activities are dangerous. "No one can claim not to be affected. When our
citizens either traffic or abuse illicit drug, the entire society is
affected." The governor urged participants at the workshop to expose drug
dealers in their neighbourhood. He equally expressed confidence in the
ability of the agency to deliver on its promises, particularly under the
leadership of Giade.

Daniel promised further commitment of the government and people of the
South West, particularly Ogun State to be actively involved in the fight
to rid the country of illicit drug.

As the workshop was rounded up, each command of the agency was mandated to
go back to their respective states and organise rally for a wider
sensitisation on the need to prevent illicit drug cultivation, trafficking
and abuse.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Doug