Customs authorities in Nigeria announced this week that a patrol had intercepted nearly 600 pounds of cannabis along a busy highway in the central part of the West African nation. Niger/Kogi Comptroller Busayo Kadejo said on Tuesday that 317 packages totaling 263.6 kilograms (more than 581 pounds) of illicit marijuana had been seized by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).
Following the seizure, the cannabis was handed over to Barrister Haruna Kwetishe, the Niger State Commander of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), in Minna, the capital of Niger state.
The cannabis was discovered by an Area Command of the Customs Service patrol along the busy highway between the cities of Lokoja and Abuja in the central region of Nigeria. Kadejo noted that the suspected cannabis smugglers had fled after abandoning the truck carrying the marijuana and were still at large.
Cannabis is illegal in Nigeria, with penalties for possession of marijuana ranging from 12 years behind bars to life in prison for large-scale trafficking. Despite the risk, however, cannabis is one of the most popular illicit drugs in the country, and Nigeria is one of the largest West African producers of illicit marijuana.
Following the discovery, Kadejo commended the work of the customs officers that resulted in the seizure of the cannabis. But he also noted that illicit drugs have become deeply ingrained in Nigerian society.
“This occasion has come with a dual feeling and sadness and joy in my heart. First and foremost is the fact that some people are working tirelessly to build this nation while others are engaged in acts that are inimical to the development of the same country,” said Kadejo. “I am glad that due to the diligent application of self to duty, our officials were able to intercept these illicit packages. If the packages had escaped our eyes, they would have helped in the execution and sustenance of crimes such as banditry, kidnapping, thuggery and other social services.”
Suspected Smugglers On The Run
Noting that the suspected cannabis smugglers had escaped and fled into the bush after their truck was stopped by customs officers, Kadejo warned area residents to be alert for their presence. He also said that the NCS is determined to put cannabis smugglers in the country out of business.
“I strongly feel it is important that as the general elections are drawing closer, it is the responsibility of all and sundry to be at alert and report suspicious activities to law enforcement agencies,” Kadejo said.
The local comptroller noted that he had received the approval of the Comptroller General of the Customs to transfer the seized cannabis to the Niger state command of the NDLEA, adding that “this shows the synergy that exists between the Nigeria Customs Service and the NDLEA.”
After accepting the seized cannabis, Kwetishe commended the customs service and said that the marijuana would be destroyed so it would not make its way to the illicit market.
“What the Customs has done is a clear case of synergy between the security agencies. It is a great job that the Customs have done,” said Kwetishe. “It has reassured us that Nigeria as a country is a project for everybody not necessarily for the security agencies. Anyone with information should call our attention to it and it will save lives.”
The NDLEA state commander also noted that any politicians using cannabis as an incentive to gain the support of young people in upcoming elections would be jailed until after ballots are cast.
“We assure the society that we will make Nigeria safe. Particularly in this period where drugs are used to ginger thuggery. I want to warn politicians that anybody in Niger state that wants to use drugs in this political era, NDLEA is able and ready to reign you in,” Kwetishe warned. “We will arrest you. You may not even see the elections. We will keep you till after the elections.”