Wednesday, May 9, 2012

38 arrested for 'diamba' cultivation

Guerrilla cannabis plot in a forest clearing/Photo: Wikipedia

(SIERRA LEONE) - The Trans-National Organized Crime Unit (TOCU) of the Sierra Leone Police, with support from the Government of Ireland, launched an operation code name ‘Desert Breeze’ at Mile 14 in the Tonko Limba Chiefdom in the Kambia District, where over one hundred acres of marijuana plantation were intercepted and 38 suspects arrested. Three trucks loaded with cannabis sativa were taken as exhibit.

Report reaching this press states that the state of lawlessness came to the limelight as community people mobilized to prevent the police from going on with the operation. 

 According to report, the people succeeded in mounting road blocks and also use traditional secret society (gbangbani) to scare away the police. 

Because of this spate of lawlessness perpetrated by the people, the police were left with no alternative but to fire tear gas canisters in order to prevent the protesters from causing mayhem.

Sources confirmed that the ‘Diamba Cultivators’ succeeded in pelting stones and bottles at the police as a form of vetting out their anger against the force for exposing their dubious activities in the Tonko Limba Chiefdom.

While the police were heading for the destination where the huge consignment of diamba would have been burnt, report states that they were attacked again by some lawless youths who laid ambushed police vehicles on the high way.

The cultivation of marijuana in the Tonko Limba Chiefdom has become a major source of livelihood for majority of inhabitants, especially unemployed youths. It is like an industry where a community of village investment in which every family or household has stake. 

Despite the several workshops conducted by Non-Governmental Organization like the Wealth, Hunger Highlife (WHH) sensitizing community leaders and village heads to deviate from the practice of cultivating marijuana and concentrate on the cultivation of rice, cassava, potatoes, yam and other essential crops, this was followed by the supply of seedlings and farming equipment but to no avail.

The NSCCG (National Security Coordinating Group) has also embarked on community outreach sensitization activities in various communities across the country, preaching against the cultivation of cannabis sativa in the interest of food security which is at the core of government agenda for change. Yet, certain communities are still cultivating this dangerous crop. 

The cannabis farming has become a very lucrative business, as one kilo of marijuana is about $50, whilst 50 kilo of rice is about Le150, 000. The police conducted a cordon and search operation, houses were searched, cannabis sativa were discovered in houses and vehicles that were about to leave for the Republic of Guinea.

The 38 suspects are currently in police custody helping with the investigations. 

Published on The Daily IIJ, May 9th, 2012 · Written by Abu Bakarr Kargbo

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