The NDLEA boss recently travelled to Thailand with Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, for a programme on medicinal cannabis extract development.
While shedding light on the trip, Akeredolu had said that Nigeria would be shortchanging itself by not tapping into the economic value of cannabis, also known as Indian hemp or marijuana, a banned substance in the country.
He said growing the plant, under the supervision of the NDLEA, would create thousands of jobs for Nigerians if seriously considered by the Federal Government.
The governor’s comments divided opinion with some criticising Abdallah for embarking on the trip despite being the head of an agency that’s led the crackdown on cannabis.
However, in a statement signed by Abdallah on Monday, May 20, 2019, he said he was in Thailand for a completely different reason and made no remark in favour of the commercial, medicinal, or monetary value of cannabis.
He said, “My attention has been drawn to the misinformation that the Ondo State Governor and I were in the Republic of Thailand to learn how to grow cannabis sativa for medicinal purpose or economic gain.
“This is far from the truth. At no point did I make any remark in favour of the commercial and medicinal value or monetary gain of cannabis.
“The purpose of the visit to Thailand is to understudy how the country has successfully migrated some of her citizens hitherto engaged in illicit plant cultivation to the cultivation of legitimate economic crops and other lawful businesses.
“The NDLEA under my leadership has been consistent in our opposition to legalisation and decriminalisation of cannabis.
“For example, Operation Thunderstorm undertaken by the Ondo State Command of the NDLEA destroyed 3,900.73 hectares of cannabis sativa planted in forest reserves.”
Despite Abdallah’s claim, the programme he attended with Akeredolu centred around building capacity and researching the modality of licensing for planting and extracting cannabis oil in Nigeria as well as exploiting its commercial potential with focus on Ondo State.