By Ifeanyi Okolie
When 63-year-old Pa Isaac Orji was apprehended by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), behind a makeshift stall situated in a secluded part of CMS area, of Lagos Island where he trades on cannabis, he was quick to tell the anti-narcotic officials that he was on the verge of retiring from the illicit trade. The suspect said to be a major cannabis dealer in the state was among 82 suspected drug traffickers apprehended by officials of NDLEA within the first quarter of 2011 where a total of 843.002kg of illicit drugs were also seized from them. The suspects were arrested after series of raids were carried out at several notorious drug enclaves in the state.
Crime Alert gathered that seized cannabis accounted for over 99 percent of total drugs seized in the past three months with 843.002 kilogrammes. According to the Lagos State Commander of the NDLEA, Alhaji Aliyu Sule, “Between January and March 2011, the Lagos State command of the NDLEA arrested 82 suspected drug dealers with 843.002kg. Cannabis represents over 99 percent of the drugs seized with 840.324kg. Cocaine is 2.65 while heroin is 27.6 grammes”.
The commander also added that the Agency’s efforts are better appreciated in the light of the risk involved in drug interception. “On daily basis, my men engage drug dealers in real combat as they attempt to resist arrest. When they are here, they look quiet but on the streets, you need to see how violent they can be. We have successfully dislodged drug dealers at Ejibgo NNPC Area which is a major drug flashpoint as most of the suspects were nabbed there in repeated raid operations” Aliyu stated.
Meanwhile, Pa Orji who had been arrested on several occasions by security agents, sells cannabis at CMS in Lagos while he resides at Makoko, Yaba also in Lagos. Married to 3 wives with 4 children, the suspect said that he is even under pressure from his family to quit the trade in cannabis. In his words, “I am a smooth operator in cannabis distribution. I have lived a comfortable lifestyle through cannabis sales and I have made up my mind to retire from the trade. I have been arrested on many occasions but they hardly get me with drug exhibits. This is going to be my last arrest because even my son in the University and my wife are on my neck to quit cannabis sales”.
The Delta State-born drug suspect was caught with 46.77kilogrammes of dried weeds that tested positive to cannabis and he also gave reasons why he took to the sales of cannabis a decade ago. “I was a taxi driver but when my car became very old and problematic, I sold it and used the money to start the cannabis trade over a decade ago. Each time I was arrested, I will quit but after some time I will go back to the trade due to hardship. I am also very good in hiding my drugs as they hardly get me with the drug. I think this arrest is just God telling me to leave the business”, he lamented.
NDLEA Chairman, Ahmadu Giade, while reacting to the arrest said that the agency would mop up the country of illicit drug sales and usage in these days of elections, assuring that no efforts would be spared in cleaning up the country of narcotics. “Drugs can induce violence and cause havoc. We shall therefore be on the alert in taking drugs out of illicit circulation. More drug flashpoints in the country will come under heavy attack by the Agency as anything capable of inducing violence these election period will not be spared” Giade assured Nigerians.
Another cannabis dealer Miss Kikelomo Ajayi, 25, who was nabbed during one of the operations at Ejigbo NNPC Area of the State stated that she ventured into drug sales when she had no helper, “I had no one to assist me with my financial needs that was what led me into selling cannabis and beer so as to take care of myself. But I use to buy the cannabis at Mushin” she stated.
. The suspect who hails from Ijebu-Igbo in Ogun State had a total of 15.05kilogrammes of cannabis.
Lagos State NDLEA boss, Aliyu, said the command conducted intensive surveillance to attain the result of arrests and seizures in the first quarter. He promised to do more in the days ahead. The Agency also stated that Pa Isaac Orji will soon be charged to court like other drug suspects.