The destruction of 68 acres of cannabis sativa farm in Gambari forest, Ibadan, Oyo State, was like a war front. A combined team of armed soldiers, Civil Defence, Department of State Security Service (DSS), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and forest management officials, operating under the aegis of Operation Burst, trooped into the forest to destroy a plantation harbouring cannabis sativa commonly known as Indian hemp or marijuana. The plantation is located within Olounde village, Ogunmakin.
The armed team drove for hours through ldi- Ayunre village to lki-Oke Alayo to access the forest. The destruction of the weed itself lasted several hours as the farm appeared to have no end. Forest management officers cleared the weed with cutlasses, NDLEA officials went round to spray chemicals on it while the soldiers surrounded the farm for protection. After so much work, the security operatives appeared like local farmers with stains all over them.
The discolouration was so conspicuous on their uniform. The NDLEA Director of Operations and General Investigation, Mr. Mabo Olugbenga, who came from Lagos headquarters, had led the way into the forest. Gaining access into the place was a big challenge, as the team drove from Ibadan through several villages. They passed through lki- Oke Alayo village, ldi Ayunre, among other communities, before getting to the forest. After passing Iki-Oke Alayo village, everyone had to trek into the forest for hours as the farm location had no roads.
The bush paths were rough with streams and swampy areas making movement difficult. On getting to the farm, the marijuana plants looked fresh. Each acre of the plantation had a hut with food items and plates inside it. Standing on the farmland was a written code of conduct, stating that, lateness to work attracts a fine of N2,000, fighting attracts six strokes, entry into the farm without permission N10,000 fine and making noise N1,000.
Other rules include attending meeting in the farm every first Sunday of the month, even as every worker is expected to be at the camp by 5pm each day after work. In a chat with Sunday Vanguard, Olugbenga described the place as evil forest, explaining that the marijuana farm was worth millions of naira and was discovered through intelligence. He said, “This is not the first time we are carrying out this type of operation and we would not relent in doing our best to sanitise the system. We thank the governor of Oyo State for giving us tremendous support. Last year, we destroyed over nine tons of hard drug plantations”.
He went on, “The current management of NDLEA has zero tolerance for hard drug business and is doing everything possible to curb the menace. Criminals are those involved in this nefarious business. They take advantage of the economic situation in the country to recruit many people to work for them at such plantations. The victims of this illegal business are our youths who consume the end product of the plants. I implore parents and the entire public to give useful information to appropriate security agencies in the fight against hard drug business in the country”.