Nigeria: The Persecution of Poor Herb Farmers and Traders

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Meet Victoria Kokobi, Indian hemp dealer who disguised as garri merchant
Monday, February 11, 2008

For Victoria, a 62-year-old grandmother, garri business is hard and not lucrative when compared with sales of marijuana. For several years, she has been involved in the trade, using garri as a cover up, but recently, the eagle eyes of the officials of the NDLEA got her.

Madam Victoria Kokobi, alias Madam 1010

Madam Victoria Kokobi, a 62-year-old grandmother was

known as a trader in garri. Unknown to many, however, this business she was popularly known with was just a guise. She was a ‘distributor’ in the illegal business of marijuana sales. In fact, she was a wholesaler.

Recently, however, the Bauchi State command of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency halted her in her tracks when she was arrested for her involvement in distributing several tonnes of cannabis sativa to the nooks and crannies of Nigeria. Her arrest was a plus for the NDLEA commnd as Madam Kokobi had been on its wanted list.

The woman was paraded alongside six other suspected Indian hemp merchants, including her ‘partner’ in crime and suspected notorious fraudster, Jonathan Francis, who allegedly swindled her and vanished into the thin air before they were both arrested by the officials of the agency.

Fielding questions from journalists shortly after she was paraded at the NDLEA Command headquarters in Bauchi, Victoria Kokobi, aka Madam 1010, who hails from Uzorro Local Government Area of Delta State, explained that she combined the illicit drug business with trading in garri, which she normally brought to Bauchi from the southern part of the country to sell, because the garri business was hard and not as lucrative as the illicit drug business.

Sober-looking Madam 1010, who is married with eight children and eleven grandchildren, residing in Uzorro, Delta State, confessed that to beat the eagle-eyed of the NDLEA officials, she usually concealed the illicit substance in garri bags which she always marked ‘10’.

According to her, she joined the illicit but lucrative drug trafficking business 16 years ago and had in the process made huge amount of money from it until late General Musa Bamaiyi spoilt the business, when he was the National Commander of the agency.

She, however, denied the allegation that her nickname Madam 1010 was because of her notoriety in the drug business which had made her elusive to the men of the agency over the years.

Madam 1010, who felt more at home with her heavily-accented Wafi, said in pidgin English,“True to God, I dey do di igbo business. Na one man wey dem dey call Onome Obge introduce me to the business. He come buy market and he come tell me say garri na kobo kobo business. So I come enter am since 1992”.

Victoria Kokobi added that trafficking marijuana was so lucrative that once she started it, she could not stop it. She said that with the illegal business, she bought two cars, a 504 Peugeot car, a Pick-Up van and built a house, as well as sent her children to school. But her desire to have more from the devil-driven business made her to remain in it until nemesis caught up with her, a development she said she now regrets.

Commenting on her arrest, the NDLEA Bauchi State’s Commander, Sule Momodu, said they mounted surveillance on Madam 1010 and Jonathan Francis, who worked for and assisted her in bringing the stuff from Delta to Bauchi. “We also searched and cordoned the routes through which she operated”, he said.

Sule Momodu, who said Madam 1010 was arrested at the Shadawanka Army Barracks, Bauchi, disclosed that no fewer than 70 drug suspects were arrested by the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Bauchi State for various drug offences last year.

He added that 24 of the drug peddlers had been charged to court while 20 had been convicted.

While revealing the situation between January and December 2007, Momodu stated that the command had made a seizure of 135.49 kg of Indian hemp and 2.060 kg of psychotropic substances (tablets).

He said that 93 drug addicts were admitted into the agency for rehabilitation out of which 33 had been successfully rehabilitated and discharged. The are now back in their communities and families.

According to him, additional 60 drug addicts are presently undergoing rehabilitation at the NDLEA centre.

Bauchi State governor, Isa Yuguda and his wife, Hauwa Abiodun Yuguda, were commended by the NDLEA commander for rendering assistance to the agency in the fight against trafficking and consumption of illegal and dangerous drugs in the state, describing it as unprecedented in the history of the command.

He also expressed appreciation to the state government for setting up a computer centre for inmates of the rehabilitation home to acquire computer skills while undergoing rehabilitation and for sinking a borehole at the command’s headquarters in Bauchi.

The command also commended the governor’s wife for collaborating with the command in establishing nine drugs-free clubs in secondary schools within Bauchi metropolis, promising that more of such clubs would be established in different parts of the state.

He, however, appealed to the state government, well-meaning individuals and organisations to come to the aid of the command in solving some of its so many serious problems facing the agency which include lack of serviceable operational vehicles and funds to carry out operations at the headquarters in Bauchi as well as in all the three zonal offices in Ningi, Dass and Azare.

He said, “narcotic operations require a lot of money and we are a proactive organisation. We need money to source information and to detail surveillance to ensure that those arrested are held wit theh substances.

“Our cases are taken to the High Court in Jos, Plateau State but most of the time we are handicapped, because of problems such as lack of vehicles to transport us to Jos. The issue of drug is a huge one across the world, if you want to address any crime, get involved in the war against drugs because all crimes are associated with drugs trafficking,” he stated.

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One thought on “Nigeria: The Persecution of Poor Herb Farmers and Traders”

  1. Wastiing Resources of a Poor Country

    The court order granted by Justice Chukwura Nnamani of the Federal High Court in Benin City, Edo State to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to publicly burn 82,253 kilogrammes of cannabis commonly known as Indian hemp, was on Saturday March 7, enforced by the agency.

    The burning was conducted before the members of the public by the Honourable Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade, under the chairmanship of the Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Oshomole.

    The over 82 tons of cannabis were seized by the Edo State command of the agency in 2008. In the 2008 report of the agency, Edo State made the highest seizure of illicit drugs in the country with a total of 90,038.01 kilogrammes.

    The statistics of arrests and seizures made by the agency in Edo State in the last three years have been very impressive. “The agency will not relent in its efforts to arrest drug barons, destroy cannabis plantations, seize narcotic drugs and impound vehicles used in conveying the deadly drugs,” Giade warned.

    Between 2003 and 2005, the Edo State Command seized a total of 30,000 kilogrammes of cannabis and arrested 328 drug suspects. However, in 2006 alone, it seized 33,000 kilogrammes of cannabis and arrested 153 drug suspects.

    In 2007, the command successfully tripled the 2006 record when it intercepted 96,000 kilogrammes of cannabis and effected the arrest of 325 persons involved in the unlawful act.

    March 9th, 2009

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