By Nimi Princewill.
The Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Col. Muhammad Abdallah (retd), has distanced himself from comments credited to the Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu which implied ongoing synergy between the NDLEA and the Ondo State Government in pursuance of the government’s plan to legalize cannabis in the state.
Speaking emphatically on behalf of the agency, Abdallah explained that neither him nor the NDLEA has ever advocated the growth of cannabis whether for commercialization or medicinal purpose, adding that he and Governor Akeredolu did not go to Thailand to learn how to grow cannabis sativa for economic gain as being reported in the media.
Reiterating the NDLEA’s continued commitment to ridding the society of illegal substances, Col. Abdallah (retd), disclosed that the agency had destroyed 3,900 hectares of Indian hemp in Ondo State.
The Ondo governor had earlier explained the state government’s plan on taking advantage of the commercial and medicinal value of the plant to boost the state’s internally generated revenue and create jobs for the youth. The governor also appealed to the federal government to support the cultivation of cannabis in large quantities in the state.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu was also reported to have attended a programme in Thailand tagged, ‘Medicinal Cannabis Extract Development’ in company of the NDLEA boss, which the governor hinted was a form of collaboration with the federal government.
But in a statement yesterday, the NDLEA Chairman said, “My attention has been drawn to the misinformation that the Ondo State Governor and I were in the Republic of Thailand to learn how to grow cannabis sativa for medicinal purpose or economic gain.
“This is far from the truth. At no point did I make any remark in favour of the commercial and medicinal value or monetary gain of cannabis.
“The purpose of the visit to Thailand is to understudy how the country has successfully migrated some of her citizens hitherto engaged in illicit plant cultivation to the cultivation of legitimate economic crops and other lawful businesses.
“The NDLEA under my leadership has been consistent in our opposition to legalisation and decriminalisation of cannabis.
“For example, Operation Thunderstorm undertaken by the Ondo State Command of the NDLEA destroyed 3,900.73 hectares of cannabis sativa planted in forest reserves.”