By Bukar Bolori
Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have destroyed a total of 255 hectares of cannabis farms in five local government areas of Ondo State.
A statement on Wednesday by the spokesman of the anti-narcotics agency, Femi Babafemi said the feat was achieved in a major operation that lasted seven days,
Babafemi said in the operation, 13 suspects were also arrested and 250 kilogrammes of cannabis seeds as well as 63.85 kilogrammes cannabis weeds were recovered.
According to him, the operation took place deep inside five major forests: Omolowo/Powerline forest; Ipele forest; Ala forest; Ogbese forest; Utte and Okuluse forest that spread across five local council areas of the Sunshine state.
He said the exercise codenamed ‘Operation Abub’, which began at Ogbese forest last Tuesday lasted till Monday, noting that at the Ogbese forest, a suspect, Olatunde Olaoluwa was arrested in his cannabis farm measuring 10 hectares, which was destroyed and burnt along with other cannabis farms spread across the Ogbese riverbank.
He said the following day, 16th of February, the agency’s Strike Force operatives in their numbers stormed Ipele forest where they arrested Amos Mark; Luke Job; Monday Momoh, and Otunuya Waya and destroyed while 19 hectares of irrigated cannabis plantations, adding that one of the suspects, who escaped during the farm destruction, was later arrested in his house.
He said the operation moved to the Omolowo community in Ogbese area last Wednesday when one Mary Udonije was arrested inside a 10-hectare farm with 16.5 kilogrammes of cannabis seeds and 4.5 kilogrammes of processed cannabis. Also recovered in the farm was an irrigation pumping machine with over 700 metres hose for watering the illicit weed.
Babafemi also said not less than 15 kilogrammes of cannabis seeds was also seized at Ala forest, Akure North Local Government Area with over 30 hectares of irrigation cannabis farms destroyed and burnt. A suspect, John Mike who claimed to be a labourer was apprehended with 2.5 kilogrammes of cannabis seeds.
He said on the Day 4 of the operation, 54 hectares of cannabis farm was destroyed at Utte and Okuluse forest, Ose Local Government Area of the state. Also recovered in the farm was 95 kilogrammes of cannabis seeds, 2.5 kilogrammes of processed cannabis sativa and a pumping machine with long hose.
On the fifth day, one Anthony Agbe, 58, was arrested with 43 kilogrammes of fresh cannabis inside a farm that was earlier destroyed at Ogbese. He claimed he was contracted by one Henry Daniel, (a.k.a Calender) who is at large to help gather the destroyed cannabis weeds. On the same day, one Ahmadu Abubakar was arrested with three Dane guns in a hut within a farm where over three hectares were destroyed at Akure North Local Government Area of the state.
Babafemi said on the last day of the operation, Monday, over 50 clusters of cannabis farm spread across 47 hectares were destroyed and 2 kilogrammes of cannabis seeds seized, while a suspect, Olorunlogo Lekan was apprehended inside a large cannabis farm measuring 10 hectares at Ala forest before it was destroyed and burnt by Strike Force officers drawn across Edo, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo states Commands of the anti-narcotics agency.
He said at least, 72 hectares of other cannabis farms in small clusters close to the identified ones in the five forests were also destroyed in the course of the operation.
Meanwhile, the Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Retd) has commended the officers and men of the Strike Force corps of the agency for their sacrifices and commitment to the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that all such cultivation and plantations in the forests must be located and destroyed.
He however charged them to look out for more of such farms in any part of the country for similar clampdown.