By Ibironke Ariyo, Abuja.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) says it has destroyed and set ablaze over 317,417 kilograms (317.4 metric tons) of cannabis sativa in the Opuje forests, Edo.
NDLEA’s Director of Media and Advocacy, Mr Femi Babafemi, disclosed this on Saturday in a statement issued in Abuja.
Babafemi said that the feat came barely hours after the Chairman of NDLEA, retired Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa, vowed to make life tough for drug barons and cartels in 2023 if they failed to back out of the illicit trade.
He said that NDLEA operatives dealt a lethal blow on a cluster of cannabis syndicates operating in Ojupe forests during the two-day operation.
“At least, a police impersonator, Omoruan Theophilus, 37, who parades as a Police Inspector to convey the drugs from the forests to the cities, was arrested.
“And three others: Aigberuan Jacob, 42; Ekeinde Anthony Zaza, 53, and Naomi Patience Ohiewere, 42, were also arrested in connection with the drugs,” he said.
Babafemi said that the Opuje community in Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State was notorious for cannabis cultivation, where the cartels invested huge resources.
He said that the development involved the cutting down economic trees in the forests and cultivating cannabis on a large scale, running into hundreds of hectares.
“After harvest, they build warehouses inside the forest reserves and employ the services of armed youths to protect the warehouses 24/7.
“Accessing the forests on Wednesday, Jan. 18, took hours of trekking by hundreds of NDLEA operatives, who were ambushed with bonfire by armed youths on their way out of the community the following day.
“They were, however, able to successfully leave the area without any casualty, except for the heavy investment losses inflicted on the cartels,” he said.
In the same vein, the NDLEA on Thursday, Jan. 19, through intelligence received from the Drug Enforcement Administration of the United States, busted a criminal syndicate.
Babafemi said that the suspect was involved in the trafficking of fake American currency in Lagos.
He said that during a combined operation, carried out by NDLEA operatives with their EFCC colleagues, a total of counterfeit 269,000 U.S. dollars were recovered from the syndicate.
He added that operation took place at Oniru Shoprite area of Lekki, Lagos and three suspects were arrested.
Babafemi quoted Marwa as commending all the officers involved in the two special operations in Edo and Lagos states for their professionalism and commitment.
Marwa directed that the suspects arrested (with their fake dollars) in the Lekki operation be immediately transferred to the EFCC for possible prosecution.