The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Edo has arrested 67 persons for allegedly trafficking in various drugs in the state.
Mr Buba Wakawa, the Commander of the agency, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Benin.
Wakawa said the suspects that comprised 47 males and 20 females were arrested in various parts of the state between July and August, adding that suspected illicit drugs of about 779.572 kilogrammes were seized within the period. He said about 45.5 hectares of land estimated to yield about 216, 835 kilogrammes of suspected cannabis sativa were also destroyed.
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The commander, giving a breakdown of the figure, said that about 114.75 kilogrammes of suspected cannabis sativa were seized and about 667.62 kilogrammes of the same substance abandoned by the owners were confiscated.
He also said two grammes of Heroin; 26.1 grammes of suspected cocaine and 170 grammes of Psychotropic drugs were seized within the period. He added said that one vehicle was seized during the period.
Wakawa described cannabis cultivation as a major threat to food security, peace and development in the state, and appealed for the urgent intervention of leaders at all levels.
He said a cannabis survey was being conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) under the European Union (EU) funded project in collaboration with the Nigerian Government and technical support from the Nigerian Air Force.
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He explained that the exercise which was to access the scope of the problem in high-risk States had shown that what had been destroyed was “a tip of the ice berg”.
According to the commander, vast expanse of fertile arable land in the state had been completely taken over by cannabis cultivators.
He, therefore, called on the State Government to declare a State of Emergency to tackle the situation.
“The situation calls for a State of Emergency. Our operations are impeded by huge logistic constraints. Manual destruction of the farms is a far cry considering the magnitude of cannabis cultivation in Edo, besides the security implications, food shortage, unemployment, deforestation, environmental degradation and high rate of criminality all militate against good governance.
“The Agency cannot win this fight in isolation and l call on the state government to intervene in addressing the situation before it further degenerates,” he said.