The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) says it has seized and burnt over 14.3 tonnes of illicit drugs and crops in six different camps raided by its operatives in Ondo and Edo states.
Mr Haruna Gagara, NDLEA Commandant in Ondo State, told newsmen in Akure that his team also apprehended a notorious cannabis merchant, Ohimai Ayodele, 51, in Uzebba, suspected to be the mastermind of the killing of NDLEA personnel earlier this year.
“Ayodele’s men opened fire in an attempt to resist his arrest. Seven of our personnel got injured in the course of the incident and they are currently receiving treatment in a hospital,” said the narcotic chief.
Gagara further disclosed that the operatives also arrested a 66-year-old cannabis farmer in a deserted locality along Edo/Ondo border.
He said that several cannabis nurseries and transplant farms were discovered and destroyed immediately while weapons were seized.
The state commandant said the patrol also invaded Ajobieye forest in Ute, Ose Local Government Area of Ondo State in an operation that lasted about eight hours.
“This operation led to the burning of 1,225 bags of Cannabis Sativa, while 174.5 kilograms and a sample of fresh plants were brought for prosecution purposes.
“I can assure Nigerians that the operation has caused a serious disruption in the drug market and has checked the likely influx of drugs during this Yuletide.
“The impact of the operation will be felt in the illicit drug market nationwide because about 80 per cent of the cannabis market across the country obtain their cannabis supply from states touched by this operation.
“The agency is still awaiting drug merchants on the road to intercept cannabis shipments smuggled into the market. We will sustain the current effort,” the NDLEA chief said.
Gagara, who led the team, said the exercise, tagged “Operation Thunder Strike IV”, was launched by a joint task force comprising personnel of the agency from Oyo, Ekiti, Edo Ondo and Osun states and men of the Nigerian Army.
The commandant said the intelligence-driven operation led to the seizure of tonnes of cannabis already harvested and heaped for onward movement to the illicit drug markets.
He said his team visited two communities, Uzebba and Hiking, which were notorious for the cultivation of cannabis in Owan Local Government Area of Edo State, bordering Ondo State.
He commended the efforts of the NDLEA personnel involved in the rigorous exercise and also lauded the Nigeria Army for the collaboration given during the exercise.