Officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Oyo State have arrested seven cannabis cultivators, including two Togolese. A cannabis plantation measuring 80.93 hectares was also destroyed following the arrest.
The farms were discovered based on intelligence reports by members of the public at Tola village in the Akinyele Local Government Area of the state and the suspected cannabis farmers were arrested on the farms.
The NDLEA officials in the state said they are on the trail of other farmers, adding that this was the biggest cultivation of cannbis so far recorded in the state.
The State Commander of the NDLEA, Suleiman Jadi, 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, Cross River. Others are Raphael Abejide, 33, from Kogi State; Gabriel Okedotun, 30, from Oyo State; and Sylvester Indo, 47, from Cross River State.
“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 said.
He also disclosed that the command had arrested 213 suspected drug dealers in the state between January and October 2011, and seized 15,243.582kg of cannabis within the same period. 32 suspects have been convicted, while other cases are pending in court.
"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," Jadi said.
Godwin Liwhu, the brain behind the cannabis farms, said the sale of cannabis yields high returns. “Cannabis 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 said.