DELTA STATE, NIGERIA no sticks no seeds just pure weed!!!
Cannabis is outlawed worldwide but in Nigeria, the plant remains a consumer delight, encouraging its cultivation both for consumption and export. Akerele in Surulere, Lagos, is one of the country's thriving marijuana markets. Dealer Tajudeen Sule cherishes the deluge of students, teenagers and adults, prostitutes, urchins, police officers and soldiers flocking to his stall for their daily fix of spiff.
The brown and greenish grain of Asian flora has never failed him. Seventeen years into the trade, the 32-year old cannabis merchant boasts, "No salary earner can live like I live. Here, we live like kings. We live loud. Not that we rob and steal. Business is just very good."
It is hot out there. It is very cold too. Bitter noon time heat and the piercing, steely coldness of cannabis peddlers who ply their trade in the slummy suburb of Akerele. Here, all things merge into one, and a vileness runs through it all. Akerele is a constellation of hopefuls. A melting point of commerce where Igbos, Yorubas, Hausas, Ijaws and other ethnic nationalities jostle for their share from the much touted promises of Lagos. Within and around the neighbourhood, the shrill blare of passing vehicles, the babble of the various cells of makeshift markets, noise from the music shops, the natters and wild altercation of passenger touts and commercial bus drivers and the heady aroma of marijuana all mix.
Cannabis was introduced into Nigeria in the wake of World War II and is cultivated in all 36 of the country's states for consumption and export. The country has improved in its production, recording the second-largest cannabis seizure in Africa, after South Africa, in 2004 and coming fourth in the world with 683,101 seizures; about 11 per cent of the total world seizures, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, in its 2006 World Drug Report.
Raphael Okon, a courier based in Benin, Edo State, maintains that cannabis cultivation is a worthwhile venture that deserves government support. "Many people take cannabis as an intoxicant. Others use it to cure various illnesses. It is also used in making cosmetics," he says.
A 25-kilogramme sack of cannabis is sold between 7,000 and 9,000 Naira ($55-$70) . Packages meant for export are compressed and sealed with tape, masking the characteristic aroma of the plant. A bag of cannabis bought at N8,000 from rural farmers could be sold in a city like Port Harcourt at N25,000 ($200) or more. When the same bag crosses to Borneo or any other northern state, the price could hit N35,000 to N40,000. If compacted for export, a dealer could earn as much as N50,000 ($400) or more on each package.
Cannabis smugglers have devised various means of getting the banned plant to the points of purchase. For instance, three years ago, a medic and policeman were arrested after smugglers were found to be using an ambulance belonging to the Supreme Court to smuggle hemp into the market. In a separate incident, three policemen in Afuze, Owan East of Edo State were arrested recently for dealing in cannabis. The police officers and the leader of a vigilante group allegedly arrested a cannabis farmer. Trouble started when the police officers allegedly extorted an N80,000 ($630) pay-off and attempted to make away with bags of cannabis after beating their quarry to a pulp.
Five states lead in the production of cannabis in Nigeria. They are Edo, Delta, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun states. It is claimed the cannabis produced in Edo and Ondo is among the best in the world, making it more expensive than others and providing a ready world-wide market for it, according to a source.