The Edo Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said on Saturday, that it arrested 229 suspects for illicit drug trafficking in the state since June 2020 to date.
Mr Buba Wakawa, the State Commander of the agency, disclosed this in Benin, on the occasion of the 2021 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking.
Wakawa, who disclosed that 151 of the suspects were males and the rest 78 females, also announced the seizure of 15,648.532 kgs of different types of hard drugs, in addition to eight vehicles and five motorcycles, used as means of conveyance or proceeds of drugs, within the period under review.
He further said that the command destroyed 16, 077 bags of substance suspected to be cannabis sativa, weighing 233,778 kg were destroyed in a cluster of four warehouses in Okpuje forest, in Owan West Local Government Area of the state.
The warehouse was the biggest cannabis sativa store ever discovered in the history of the agency, Wakawa said, adding that during the period, 14 suspected cannabis farms, measuring 16.69738 hectares, were also identified and destroyed.
“Within the period under review, the command also secured 17 convictions at the Federal High Court, Benin, while 154 drug dependent persons were counseled, rehabilitated and re-integrated into the society”, he said.
The commander also revealed that a new trend entailed operating an online kitchen as drug processing centre, advising people to be mindful of what they eat at social gatherings.
Wakawa noted that the “Share Facts About Drugs, Save Lives” theme of this year’s celebration informed on why the command had engaged in sensitization, sharing facts and creating awareness in the minds of the people, about the menace of drug abuse and illicit trafficking in the society.
“If the country is to stem the rate of criminality and other social vices bedeviling the society, then tackling drug trafficking and abuse is the only panacea.
“All over the world, there is a strong correlation between drugs and crimes, especially violent crimes. There are also lots of misinformation on drug use and drug itself.
“The issue of legalisation of cannabis sativa also brings a conflict between human and societal health, against financial and economic benefits. The choice is between health and wealth“, he said.
In his address of welcome, Edo Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu disclosed that statistics had shown that the state accounted for a disproportionate large share of illicit drug production, trafficking, and abuse in the country.
He said that this was in addition to being a major producer of hemp or marijuana, which was commonly abused in the society.
According to him, the rising wave of criminality and insecurity across the nation, was fueled by drug abuse.
“Our children and youths must be made to understand the reality of the dangers and negative life altering outcomes, in yielding to drug abuse.
“They must be taught that the future is bleak for drug abusers. In the same vein, parents and adults who abused drugs must stop for the sake of the young ones.
“Drug abuse, a hydra-headed monster, must be crushed if we must forge ahead as a nation. We must save the future for our children and youths”, Shaibu said.
In his remarks, Dr Osamwonyi Irowa, Chairman, Edo State Drug Control Committee (ESDCC), described the 2021 theme for commemorating the day was significant, considering the unquantifiable and enormous danger posed by substance abuse.
Irowa noted that drug abuse had brought about family disintegration, decimated the capacity of youths and led to increase in various crimes like insurgency, terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and extremism.
He revealed that since the inauguration of the committee in 2019, the ESDCC had not rested on its oars in achieving its mandate.
“Last month ESDCC flagged -off a formal campaign for the inauguration of drug free clubs in schools, across the state.
“About 300 students from 30 schools in Edo South, were engaged in the exercise, while another 160 from 16 schools will be inaugurated today.
“The same will be replicated in Edo Central and Edo North, hopefully before the end of next month”, he said.
He noted that drug abuse was an enabler of all forms of criminality and thus must be crushed, adding that members of the public must do the needful and fight the scourge to a conclusive end.