Officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency on Friday said they arrested 11 suspects and destroyed 2, 317 bags of cannabis weighing 30,992kgs.
The agency’s spokesperson, Mr. Mitchell Ofoyeju, in a statement on Friday, said that some 67 bags were also transferred to Osun State Command of the agency as exhibits for further investigation.
He said, “The cannabis will also serve as evidence against 11 suspected farmers arrested during an operation inside the cannabis plantation.
“The suspects arrested in connection with the cannabis cultivation are Kofi Mensah, Godwin Monday, Albert Aniama, Liberty Onyeka and Peter Nelson.
“Others are Harrison Ewoka, Ossai Nelson, Sulaiman Niyi, Dominic Tobechukwu, Mutiu Kolawole and Chucks Oghenekwu.
“The raid operation codenamed ‘Operation Herb Spring’ was in response to an intelligence received by the Agency on the activities of cannabis cultivators in the forest.
“The exhibits was estimated to worth three hundred and nine million naira (N309million).
“These exhibits were found in 27 camps used as storage facilities located within a farmland at Orita-Ijebu forest reserve, Ikoyi area of Ikire in Ayedade LGA of Osun State.
“Drug cartels have invaded government forest reserves for the cultivation of cannabis.”
He also quoted the Chairman of the agency, Mr. Muhammad Abdallah , who said concerted efforts were needed to stop cannabis cultivation.
He said that farmers should be encouraged to cultivate food and economic crops.
He said, “Unless the current trend of cannabis cultivation is addressed, the country is on the verge of a devastating food insecurity.
“It is worrisome that the cartels are using government forest reserves in the cultivation of cannabis.
“Stakeholders must strategise on how to increase food production and prevent criminal organisations from diverting arable farmland for cannabis cultivation.
“A situation where food and cash crops is paving way for cannabis plant portend danger and deserve urgent attention.
“The operation was a sweet victory for the agency because the farmers had done all the work by harvesting and processing the cannabis awaiting evacuation from the farms.
“It was a perfect timing for the Agency and a painful loss to the drug barons.
“They had prepared the cannabis in bags waiting for shipment when we raided.
“The Agency will continue to launch similar devastating attacks on drug trafficking cartels until they are completely defeated.
“All suspects will be arraigned soon.”