The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Edo Command on Friday destroyed illicit drugs valued at more than N10 billion in Benin.
Retired Col. Mohammad Abdallah, the Chairman of NDLEA who supervised the exercise, said that the quantum of drugs being destroyed clearly called for state of emergency over drug situation in the country.
Abdallah said approximately 137,000 kiligrammes of illicit drugs were destroyed, noting that the figure was double the total figure recently destroyed in FCT, Oyo and Kano states.
The chairman said 20 tonnes of drugs were destroyed in FCT, 14 tonnes in Oyo and 50 tonnes in Kano, while a whopping 136 tonnes were destroyed in Edo.
He added that the quantity showed that drugs had become unacceptably pervasive in many parts of the country, with attendant implications on health, security and integrity of the nation.
He stressed that the connection between drugs and violent crimes was beyond any controversy, adding that this was because cannabis, tramadol and other psychoactive substances were often recovered in virtually all terrorist camps by the military.
Abdallah expressed concern over the increase in space of forest being used for the cultivation of cannabis sativa in the state. He explained that in 2017, the state command destroyed 40.06 hectares of suspected cannabis plantations, while 37.9 hectares were destroyed in 2016.
He noted that the diversion of land to cannabis cultivation instead of food and economic crops remained a serious threat to food production in the country.
The state Commander of NDLEA, Mr Buba Wakawa, said it was sad that Edo was one of the highest cannabis producing states in the country.
Wakawa said that the problems of drugs and substance abuse in the state were of serious concern to the command.
He added that school age children were found to be using drugs even at an early age of 13, saying this had affected the rate of school dropout, divorce, rape, as well as teenage pregnancy.
The commander said the event marked the last stage of drug enforcement circle, which started with intelligence gathering, raid operations, investigation, successful conviction and execution of the court order for the destruction of confiscated drugs.
The quantity of drugs destroyed was the largest in the history of drug control in the country, he stressed. Wakawa said cannabis sativa accounted for 136, 437.73 kilogrammes of the figure, while cocaine, heroin and other psychotropic substances accounted for 0.0139 kilogrammes, 0.0084 kilogrammes and 406.7 kilogrammes respectively.