NDLEA Arrest 65 in Ebonyi, Burn 18,083,787kg Cannabis in Kogi

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Benjamin Nworie in Abakaliki and Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Ebonyi State Command has arrested 65 persons for their alleged involvement in drug peddling and racketeering between January to April 2019.

This is as the agency (NDLEA) in Kogi State has destroyed 18,083,787 kilograms of cannabis sativa and other psychotropic substances seized over the last four years in the state. The drugs worth millions of Naira, from decided cases between 2014 and 2017 were set ablaze in the presence of security chiefs on Thursday in Lokoja.

Also in Ebonyi, no fewer than five suspects were arrested at the weekend and three bags of suspected cannabis weighing 3.8 kg impounded when officials of the agency raided a community town hall located at Amaike Ezzangbo in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of the state.

The state Deputy Commander in-charge of Intelligence and Operations Mr. Ibrahim Bashir, made the disclosure in Abakaliki, the state capital when  officials from the agency  sealed off a community town hall  that served as warehouse for cannabis and other related drugs.

He disclosed that 15 of the suspects were prosecuted within the last three months.

According to him, officials of the agency raided the community hall in Amaike Ezzamgbo and recovered three bags of cannabis and other exhibits while five suspects were arrested and interrogated.

Bashir said that the key suspect whose name named Mr. Amadi Chukwuma ( male, 35 years) was held in the custody of the agency in addition to the exhibits.

“The town hall we raided is a community hall named Amadi Palace-Amaike Ezzangbo, the community allowed the hall to be used for drug activities.

“Two days ago, we raided the place, and in the process 3.8 kg of cannabis was recovered from one of the rooms inside the
hall.”

“Those that have no question to answer, after interrogation were released but the main suspect is here with us and will soon be charged to court,” he said.

In an interview, one of the suspects, Mr. Amadi Chukwuma m (35 years) who hails from Amaeke Ezamgbo, Ohaukwu local Government Area of the State confessed to the alleged offence.

The suspect said that he was arrested in his residence by officials of the Agency maintaining that he embarked on the business in July 2018.

“I was arrested in my house selling hard drugs, it is one of the drivers that brought the cannabis for me from Afikpo, I am not a troublesome person.

“We were four doing the business, we don’t have sponsors, people we buy drugs send it to us for sale in large quantity”

The suspects pleaded with the authorities of the Agency to show leniency to him and pardon him.

The burning of the seized drugs in Kogi was led by Col. Muhammad Abdallah (Rtd), Chairman and Chief Executive of  NDLEA  who said the torched narcotics compromised 17,865.235 kilogrammes of cannabis sativa and 218,552 kilogrammes of Psychotropic substances including Tramadol, Diazepam, Codein and other banned substances.

Abdallah in his opening remarks said every state in Nigeria was being confronted with the challenges of drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking with over 14 per cent of the productive population actively engaged in illicit drug use.

“The Nigeria Drug Use Survey recently released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, (UNODC) came up with findings that were striking and alarming on the pervasive drug use problem in the country.

“The report puts the drug use ratio 14.4 per cent among age group of 15 to 65 years of our population. This calls for concerted efforts to mitigate the negative consequences of this menace on the health, socio-economic and security of our nation.

Represented by his Chief of Staff, Director of Narcotics in the agency Femi Olaruntoba, the Chairman said the Agency was strengthening its drug demand reduction strategies to improve its visibility in places such as market places, motor parks, schools and joints.

Speaking on the cultivation of Cannabis for medicinal and wellness purposes in the country, Abdullah stressed that the law prohibiting cannabis or dealing had not been repealed and was still in force.

In his address, Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi described the event as symbolic, saying that there was need to destroy the drugs before drugs destroyed the nation, adding that there was serious correlation between commission of crime and drug addiction.

Bello who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government Dr. Folashade Ayoade-Arike  commended NDLEA for its effort in making such huge seizure.

He assured that his administration would continue to accord maximum support to NDLEA to enable it perform its statutory functions in the interest of humanity and urged parents to know the friends their wards keep.

Earlier, Alhaji Bello Idris, Commander of NDLEA in the state wondered what kind of crimes the seized quantity of drugs would have triggered ranging from rape to armed robbery, homicide among others if not seized from the merchants.

Bello appealed to parents, schools, corporate organisations, religious bodies and government to continue to support the fight against the deadly monster (drugs abuse).

Heads of security agencies, the Army, Navy, Customs, DSS, FRSC, NSCDC, immigration, CSOs, NBA, Commissioners, other government functionaries and fire fighters graced the occasion.