Ahead of the commencement of the 2023 general elections on Saturday 25th February, operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, have stormed the Ujiogba Forest Reserve in Esan West LGA, Edo State where they destroyed 7,286 kilograms (72.86 tons) of warehoused skunk and five hectares of its plantation.
The special operation carried out on Wednesday 22nd February followed credible intelligence that some cartels had warehoused hundreds of jumbo bags of the illicit substance inside the thick forest of the reserve for distribution to some states ahead of the general elections.
After the initial resistance, the suspects were rounded off with two rifles, spent cartridges of short guns and an empty shell of AK47 rifle recovered, while a 24-year-old suspect, Calvary Essien, was arrested.
After the gun fight, the NDLEA operatives in their numbers 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.
This is coming on the heels of a similar operation on Wednesday 18th January in the Opuje forest in Owan West Local Government Area of the state where 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.
In his reaction to the latest operation in Ujiogba forest, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, retired Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa ommended all the officers involved in the operation.