NDLEA officials
NDLEA officials

NDLEA raids forests, destroys tons of drugs in a special operation

National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA has left a sour taste in the mouth of illicit drug merchants in Ondo and Edo States. In what appears to be an end-of-the year clean-up of drug malfeasance in the areas, the Agency has embarked on “Operation Thunder-strike IV,” a week-long combing of the forests in the areas notorious for cannabis crop cultivation.

The intelligence-driven counter narcotic campaign has led to the seizure of several tons of Cannabis already harvested and heaped for onward movement to the illicit drug markets. Not fewer than 14.3 tons of the illicit drug crop were recovered from six camps raided by the operatives.

Uzebba and Ihkin, two communities, Owan West LGA in Edo State, bordering Ondo State which are notorious for the cultivation of Cannabis were the first to receive the beam light of the well-studded operatives. One Ohimai Ayodele, ‘M’ 51 year-old title holder in Uzebba, a notable cannabis merchant suspected to be the mastermind of the killing of NDLEA personnel earlier in the year was apprehended during the operation. In an attempt to resist arrest, his gang opened fire, injuring some of the operatives.

A reinforcement of NDLEA and Army personnel stormed Ivbiodeohen forest in Uzebba where five different warehouses were raided with at least two tons of cannabis destroyed. One Ojeagbese Asabiya, ‘M’ 66 years was arrested in a disserted locality where several Cannabis nursery and transplant farms were discovered and destroyed. Eight locally fabricated guns and several rounds of ammunition were recovered from the spots. Six locally fabricated Cannabis compressing machines were also recovered from the Camp.

At Uteh, near Ifon in Ondo State, the operation lasted twenty hours as the operatives invaded and ransacked the Ajobieye forest, Owo Local Government Area leading to the destruction by burning of 1, 225 bags of Cannabis sativa, weighing 12, 250 kilograms, while a total of 174.5 kilograms and sample of fresh plants were brought for prosecution purposes.

The operation was crowned with a show of force through the Akure metropolis with visit to several black spots.

The operation came with high level strategic planning because of the volatility and rugged terrain. The Agency pulled its resources from the six geographical zone and got the collaboration of the military formations within the axis. A total of 45 army personnel joined forces with 329 officers and men of the Agency to embark on the campaign.

The operational team was drawn from all the specialized teams of NDLEA-(Directorate of Operations and General Investigation, Tactical Team, Joint Task Force, Special Enforcement Team and Combined Inter-Agency Task Force and personnel of Edo, Ondo, Osun, Oyo and Ekiti State Commands). The Army personnel was drawn from 4 Brigade, Nigeria Army, Benin and 32 Field Artillery Brigade, Owena Cantonment Akure.

Haruna Gagara, State Commander, NDLEA Ondo State Command who hosted the operation was full of excitement. “The operation has caused a serious disruption in the drug market and has checked the likely influx of drugs during the yuletide”, he said, adding that the impact of the operation will be felt in the illicit drug market nationwide, because about 80 percent of Cannabis markets across the country obtain their cannabis supply from the States touched by this operation. He noted that the previous operation targeted the planting and growing of the illicit crop which succeeded to nip in the bud several hectares of Cannabis farms.

He assured that the Agency is still awaiting drug merchants on the road to intercept cannabis shipments smuggled into the market. “I can assure you that we will sustain current efforts”, Gagara said.

Jonah Achema, ACN
Principal Staff Officer, Public Affairs