The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has destroyed 137 tons of illicit drugs in Edo State, South South Nigeria.
This is the largest chunk of drugs to be destroyed by the NDLEA since the inception of the counter-narcotic Agency.
The Chairman/Chief Executive of the Agency, retired Colonel Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah, noted at the well attended event that such public destruction of exhibits is the most crucial stage of the Agency’s operational activities as it sends signal to drug criminals that their efforts will end in futility.
Abdallah said: “Our message is that these substances which they (drug merchants) value so much that they stake their lives for can always be treated like ordinary garbage.
“It is also in the interest of public safety to ensure that these dangerous drugs are permanently separated from the human environment and by so doing we forestall the threats posed to human health and security.
“The quantum of the illicit drugs we are here to destroy today clearly justifies my call for a state of emergency over the drug situation in the country.
“Only recently we destroyed about 20 tons in the Federal Capital Territory, 14 metric tons in Oyo and 50 tons of in Kano States.
“Today, we will be destroying more than double this figure.
“Precisely, 136,844.7123 kilograms of drugs, mainly cannabis sativa.”
According to Abdallah, this quantity of drugs should give any well-meaning individual sleepless nights and concerns that there is still a lot to be done to confront this scourge.
He added: “This quantity also shows that drug has become unacceptably pervasive in many parts of the country with the attendant implications on the health, security and integrity of the nation.”
He maintained that the nexus between drugs and violent crimes was beyond any controversy, more so that Cannabis, Tramadol and other psychoactive substances were often recovered in virtually all terrorist camps by the military and that the state of security in the nation requires that all hands must be on deck to address this hydra-headed problem of drug trafficking and abuse.
“Globally,” Abdallah asserted, “the issue of environment is beginning to assume the epicenter of human security.
“One of the greatest threats to the environment and by extension, human security is the deforestation that goes with cannabis plantations.
“Our forests are being plundered through indiscriminate felling of economic trees to make way for the illicit cannabis plantations.
“Research has shown that this trend has grave consequences on the fertility of the forests and need quick intervention.”
The increase in the space of forests being used for the cultivation of cannabis in the State is equally disturbing.
According to statistics, in 2017, the Edo State Command of the Agency destroyed 40.06 hectares of Cannabis plantations, while in 2016, it destroyed 37.87 hectares.
It has been observed that the diversion of land to cannabis cultivation instead of food and economic crops also remain a serious threat to food production in the nation
Another issue of concern in the State is children dropping out of school on account of drug abuse and the use of children as cheap labour in the cannabis plantations.
This is very prevalent.
Equally prevalent are drug induced mental illness and criminals acts such as robbery, kidnapping, cultism, murder and rape which are committed under the influence of drug.
According to NDLEA Chairman/Chief Executive, providence has placed Edo State as the Heart Beat of this nation, a status that it has enviably lived up to and which needs to be guarded, jealously.
Abdallah said: “In time past, Edo State had been very much reputed for its very thick forests and the associated economic activities.
“Regrettably, the same cannot be said today as cannabis planters have invaded these forests.”
The Edo State Government has promised to ensure that the criminals look for elsewhere to ply their trade.
Governor Godwin Obaseki, who was represented at the occasion by Sam Oko-Ose, the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office, said the trend must stop.
Obaseki pledged: “We even need more land to embark on our developmental programmes.
“These drug miscreants would soon discover that there would be no more land for them to use for their nefarious drug plantations.
“Any such land will be seized by government.
“We are ready to partner with NDLEA in any way possible to put a stop to this menace.”