Exclusive: Armed men in Helicopter invade Ekiti, destroy large farmland, plant narcotics
By Akinwale Obafemi, Fidelis Ojo and Samuel Ogunsona
Some armed men have invaded Ekiti communities with helicopters after which they destroyed farmlands and begin massive cultivation of Indian hemp and other narcotics. The activities have been on-going for months and only recently have local authorities been alerted by locals whose loyalty appear to be divided by pecks given to them to keep the peace and the imminent threat to their livelihood due to the massive destruction and forceful seizure of their ancestral farmlands.
Irohinoodua correspondent in Ekiti State sneaked in the middle of the night to behold a large expanse of land more than five kilometers already destroyed by the armed men.
The large farmland is located between Araromi and Ekamarun communities all in Ikole Local Government area. The affected communities are Araromi, Irele, Ipao, Esun, Itapaji, Iyemero and Ikole Ekiti. The communities traditionally have been the foodbelt of Ekiti State.
A community leader in the area said the invaders sneaked into the community some two months ago and had cleared about five kilometers of land before their activities were noticed by some locals describing them as a well-organized cartel. He said they chose the thickest part of the forest about 15 kilometers away from the towns, where it was difficult for the people to initially locate them.
“They have been coming without the knowledge of the communities. They would fly in with Helicopter and land on a small piece of land they had developed into a teleport. They came with armed men in military and police uniforms” a community leader who does not wish to be named told Irohinoodua. He said he was deeply worried about the implication of growing narcotics in Ekiti on the youth population and the prospect of violence and crime it is bound to spur.
Another source, a teacher, Mr Olatunde Ajayi of Ayedun Ekiti revealed to our correspondent that the armed men had given money to a lot of people ranging from N10,000 to N200,000 to keep them silent and that some of the traditional rulers are “collaborators.” The Ekiti State Commissioner for Information, Otunba Muyiwa Olumilua in a chat with Irohinoodua said he would investigate the matter and take all necessary legal actions.
Investigation by our correspondent discovered that the invaders may have begun the planting of various types of narcotics. One source in Araromi said the invaders were investing heavily in narcotics which may include Cannabis and even cocaine trees. The source said the criminal gang had established a similar drug outpost in Ondo state in collaboration with some security officials. The cartel had also destroyed hundreds of economic trees and rare animal species with daring consequences on environmental sustainability in the area.
“They destroyed all my farms, the cashew, cocoa, palm trees. We cannot do anything. They came with armed people in military and police uniforms”, Aliu Akinmoye, a farmer in the area whose 10 hectares were destroyed told Irohinoodua. He said the cartel came with a certificate that indicated they were empowered by the Federal Government to cultivate cannabis and other drugs in the area. Findings by our correspondent indicated that the Federal Government has not given such order and the armed men that accompany the gang are most likely to be fake or performing illegal duties.
The source revealed that the group is linked to a drug cartel in Latin America and had been operating in Nigerian since last year. Irohinoodua could not independently confirm his allegation on Latin America network.
A member of the House of Representatives, Hon Peter Owolabi who represents the area told our correspondent that he had hints of about the activities of the gang and that State and Federal security operatives are already working to locate the mission of the gang. Owolabi, a lawyer and well respected political in Ekiti State said his constituency will not tolerate any illegal business activities adding that the entire Ekiti State would not condone any action that threatens the wellbeing of the state. Cannabis is illegal in Nigeria yet the country is the eight consumer of the drug in the World. Cannabis is widely grown in Ondo, Ekiti, Edo, Delta, Osun, Oyo and Ogun States. A source in the affected communities said he was sure Cocaine trade in part of the consideration of the invaders. Cocaine comes from the coca plant, which is mostly grown in Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru but some criminal gangs are said to have introduced the plant to Nigeria.