Monday, May 2, 2011

Anti-drug agents battle cannabis farmers in Ondo

Anti-drug agents battle cannabis farmers in Ondo as it is one of the states in the federation where agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. The state is richly blessed with food and cash crops, which makes it a force to reckon with in the agriculture sector. Specifically, the state prides itself as one of the leading producers of cocoa.

However, the state’s giant stride in agriculture is being threatened by the high cultivation of cannabis (Indian Hemp) in some parts of the state. Some farmers in the state have abandoned planting of staple food and cocoa for cannabis because of huge profits from its sale.

Impatient farmers, especially the young ones, are attracted to the business because of the richness of the land which makes cannabis to grow even faster than other crops.

NEXT also gathered that these youths are lured into cannabis plantation because it is easy to preserve, unlike tomatoes and other crops which require technology to be processed.

The Commander of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency in the state, Walter Nicholas, attributed the large cultivation of cannabis in the state to high demand for the weed.

Mr. Nicholas said the potency of the cannabis planted in the state attracts buyers from all states of the federation.

“Investigation carried out showed vividly that cannabis planted in Ondo State is of higher demand and quality, compared to others planted in other states,” he said.

“The soil here in Ondo state is very rich for Indian hemp cultivation. The Indian hemp that is grown in Ondo state is the most potent all over Nigeria, therefore it is very costly. Due to this, many youths have ventured into the plantation of Indian hemp at the expense of other food and cash crops”.
The NDLEA boss also accused some land owners of leasing their land to aid cultivation of cannabis, a development which he said has further boosted the illicit trade in the state.

“The accessibility to the land is not helping the fight against the high rate of cultivation of Indian hemp. The owners of this land are conniving with these planters, by leasing their land to these people”, he said.
Mr. Nicholas also accused traditional rulers of giving out land to Indian hemp cultivators, saying the Command is in possession of intelligence reports to confirm the backing of community leaders in this show of shame.
“It is important that we also must remind our community leaders of our collective resolve to bequeath a drug free society for our children as no development no matter how meaningful will sink deep if the interest of those it is meant to serve is of unsound mind as a result of drug use,” he said.
Aside from this, the agency is battling with the activities of dealers in the illicit substance that have now formed a well-linked cabal. Operatives of the cabal are always armed with sophisticated weapons to challenge any attack from security operatives.

In 2010, two staffers of the NDLEA in the state died during operations. The same year, two officers of the agency and three policemen were injured while trying to invade a warehouse loaded with cannabis at Ehinogbe area of Owo. They were attacked by armed hoodlums suspected to have been hired by Indian hemp barons.

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