Seventy three suspects who specialise in cultivating and dealing in cannabis have been arrested by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
The suspects made up of 60 males and 13 females were apprehended in Edo State with 10,094.75kgs of cannabis between January and March 2016.
A statement by NDLEA spokesperson, Mr. Mitchell Ofoyeju, released on Thursday, described how the cannabis hauls were seized.
He said, “A cannabis laden Toyota Hilux and a J5 bus with cannabis disguised as pineapple shipment were impounded, while a warehouse located at the Okpuje forest, Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State, was detected and 2,590kgs of cannabis were seized.
“Four notorious drug dealers at Ekpoma, Auchi and Benin as well as five young farmers from Taraba and Plateau States are among those being investigated for cannabis cultivation and trafficking by narcotic undercover operatives in Benin City. The Edo State Command exhibit room is already filled to capacity with over 80,000kgs of cannabis.”
According to the Edo State Commander of the NDLEA, Mr. Buba Wakawa, efforts are ongoing to sanitise Edo of illicit drugs.
Wakama said a fake State Security Service identity card with the name Daniel Okolo was found in the Hilux van which was loaded with cannabis.
One of the arrested cannabis dealing suspects include a 60-year-old woman, Juliana Ogiefa, who is on bail after her arrest for dealing in cocaine and heroin.
The NDLEA said it is 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 permanently terminated.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that in a forest at Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State, where NDLEA officials seized 2,590kgs of cannabis, an official narrowly escaped a large trap that had been set on the ground by the cannabis dealers.
The Chairman of NDLEA, Muhammad Abdallah, has vowed to identify, arrest and prosecute cannabis cultivators.
“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,” Abdallah warned.
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.