The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) raided the Ujiogba Forest Reserve in Esan West LGA, Edo, and destroyed 7,286 kilogrammes (72.86 tonnes) of skunk as well as five hectares of its plantation.
Mr Femi Babafemi, the NDLEA’s Director of Media and Advocacy, stated this in a statement issued on Thursday in Abuja.
According to Babafemi, the operation was carried out ahead of the 2023 general elections on February 25.
He stated that the special operation on February 22 was carried out in response to credible intelligence that some cartels had warehoused hundreds of jumbo bags of the illicit substance.
These, he said, were located within the reserve’s dense forest for distribution to some states ahead of the general elections.
He added that the operation could, however, not go on immediately until after several road blocks set up by armed guards of the drug lords were cleared.
According to him, they were overpowered by the superior firepower of Strike Force officers of the Agency in a gun duel.
“After the initial resistance, two rifles, spent cartridges of short guns and an empty shell of AK47 rifle were recovered while a 24-year-old suspect, Calvary Essien, was arrested.
“After the gun fight, the NDLEA operatives successfully descended on a big warehouse constructed with wood and zinc containing:
“100 jumbo bags of cannabis sativa weighing 3.2 tons; 5,000 bags of cannabis weighing 65 tons; and 137 bags of cannabis seeds weighing 4.66 tons, totaling 72.86 tons.
“Seven bags of cannabis and one bag of its seeds were subsequently taken out of the warehouse for further investigation and prosecution of suspects while the rest was set ablaze,” he said.
Babafemi said this was coming on the heels of a similar operation on Jan. 18, in the Opuje forest in Owan West Local Government Area of the state.
He said massive warehouses and tents storing over 317,417 kilograms (317.4 metric tons) of the psychoactive substance were destroyed and set ablaze in a two-day operation.
“At least, a police impersonator, Omoruan Theophilus, 37, who was parading as a Police Inspector to convey the drugs from the forests to the cities and three others: Aigberuan Jacob, 42; Ekeinde Anthony Zaza, 53, and Naomi Patience Ohiewere, 42, were arrested in connection with the drugs,” he said.
Babafemi quoted the Chairman, NDLEA retired Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa as commending all the officers involved in the effort and the 10,000 officers deployed across the country in the renewed pre-election offensive.
Marwa said the deployment was neccessary to clear every part of the country of illicit substances for use by thugs and miscreants before, during and after the elections.
He said taking the battle to the doorsteps of the cartels, deep in the forests, was to attack the menace of drug supply from the source.
He added that it was also to send the right message to the barons that there was no safe haven for them and their investments anywhere in Nigeria. (NAN)