Officers of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Edo State have arrested seven men in a village in Ukpuje forest, Owan West Local Government Area of the state, discovering four cannibis warehouse with a total volume of two hundred and thirty three thousand, seven hundred and seventy-eight kilograms, ( 233,778kg) of the dried weeds with an estimated street value of over 1.4 billion naira.
The suspected drug barons include the chairman of vigilante in Ukpuje, Emmanuel Oki, 62 years, Chief Odi Sabato, 42 years and Bright Inemi Edegbe, 53 years.
Others are Gowon Ehimigbai, 53 years, Enodi Ode, 37 years, Ayo Oni, 30 years and Akhime Benjamin, 43 years.
According to the State Commander, NDLA, Buba Wakama, the joint team of NDLEA and Army officers that carried out the raid had a strength of 80 personnel, while the operation that lasted from Thursday night through Friday night February 5, 2021 was jointly coordinated by the Officer in charge of Strike Force, James Olarewaju, the Principal Staff Officer Operations, Bisong Peter and Captain Abdullahi Abukori.
He gave the breakdown of the drugs as follows; 318 bags of 80kg each weighing 25,440kg, 15,853 bags of 13kg weighing 206,089kg.
While the total quantity seized is 2,249kg others weighing 231,529kg was destroyed at the farm.
According to him, this is the largest single concentration of cannabis discovered by the Command so far.
Wakama ascribed the success of the operation to the enabling environment created by the new Chairman/Chief Executive of the Agency, Brigadier General Buba Marwa.
“The community that is notorious for cannabis cultivation and trafficking as well as attacks on law enforcement officers, stood still as a combined team of NDLEA and combatant military personnel overran the drug trafficking syndicates due to our superior fire power.
“We took delivery of two new Hilux operational vehicles presented to the command last week. This is the first assignment of the vehicles and it turned out to be the best for the command. We are grateful to the chairman, and this is a clear warning that there is no room for drug barons in the State,” he stated.
He added that the seizures represent a large chunk of the previous cannabis planting season.
In his words, “They planted, watered, harvested and processed the drug only for us to dispossessed them of their labour because their action is criminal. The warehouses are located in the heart of the forest, yet we were able to uncover them based on intelligence gathering.”
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Wakawa thanked the Four Brigade Commander in Benin City, Brigadier General, M. A. Sadik for the logistics and personnel assistance that led to the successful clampdown on the cannabis syndicates in the area.
While describing the synergy between the Nigerian Army and NDLEA in the state as an unbeatable force against drugs and related crime in the society, the Commander said the suspects will be investigated and the case charged to court soon.