By Dayo Johnson
A 78-year-old man, Sanni Aratanya and six members of his family have been arrested by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, in Ondo State for being in possession of Indian hemp weighing three tonnes.
Their arrest was effected by officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, who carried out the joint operation with operatives of the Ondo State Police Command and the State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC.
Other members arrested include his 17-year-old son, who is a student of Methodist High School, Owo, Ige; a 17-year-old student, Miss Christiana Folorunso; and a 45-year-old commercial motorcyclist, Mr. Niran Adelagun.
Others were 18-year-old Yakubu Abdulfatahi and another 18-year-old student, Mr. Ige Adegbegi.
Commander of the agency in the state, Mr. Walter Nicholas said while parading the suspects that the â€œmajor breakthrough achieved by his men had put the camps of the notorious drug barons behind the illicit trade in disarray.
According to him, â€œmore than 100 operatives comprising the police and the NSCDC, on surveillance mission, have been combing the nooks and crannies of Owo and adjoining communities in the last one week, to seize the drugs wherever they were found.
He urged the state government â€œto act fast as a survey had revealed that the state was leading in the cultivation of Indian hemp in Nigeria as 60 percent of the drug currently being produced in the country was from the Ogbese and other villages around Owo.
Nicholas explained that Indian hemp from Ogbese in the State â€œwere being sought after all over the world because of its potent nature.
â€œIndian hemp from Ondo state is produced from a very fertile land which made it very potent and the most sought after in the world. A survey had shown that 60 percent of the drug either being consumed locally or exported to other countries, are being produced from the state.â€
In an interview Adelagun admitted ownership of some of the bags of the Indian hemp recovered from the building by the security operatives.
But the 78-year-old Aratanya and other suspects, includingÂ the only female among them, claimed they knew nothing about it.
Adelagun, said he started the trade recently when he discovered that he could make more money than the Okada business he was currently doing in the town.
According to him, â€œI started the business when one of my customers drew my attention to it recently. I decided to give it a trial but I did not know that it will end up this way.â€
Aratanya, said he was aware that Adelagun was â€œinto the business but that he could not check him because they were both products of a not too friendly polygamous set up.