From Nicholas Kalu, Abuja
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has intercepted 181.2 tons of cannabis concealed in warehouses at Ala forest in Ondo State, the Principal Staff Officer, Public Affairs, Jonah Achema, has said.
He said in a statement on Thursday in Abuja that this was another major cannabis haul in the Operation Thunder Strike IV, launched to rid the forests in Ondo and Edo states of cannabis warehouses.
“The agency on Thursday intercepted 181.2 tons of the illicit drug crop concealed in warehouses at Ala forest in Akure North area of Ondo State.
“The haul was made at three warehouses spread across the forest. Five thousand two hundred and fifty bags of the illicit drug crop were discovered in the first warehouse, while 2, 450 bags were found in the second warehouse in addition to 98 jumbo bags. Stocked in the third warehouse were 1, 100 bags in addition to 730 sacks of cannabis seeds. Littered around the warehouses were 150 ordinary bags and 30 jumbo bags of the illicit substance. The agency also recovered two single barrel guns and expended cartridges.
“In an end-of-the year clean-up of drug malfeasance in the areas bordering Ondo and Edo states, 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. About 14.3 tons of the illicit drug crops were recovered from six camps raided by the operatives.
“Uzebba and Ihkin, two communities in Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State bordering Ondo State, which are notorious for the cultivation of cannabis, were the first to receive the searchlight of the operatives. Mr. Ohimai Ayodele, a 51-year-old title holder in Uzebba, a notorious 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 members opened fire, injuring some of the operatives.
“A reinforcement of NDLEA and Army personnel stormed Ivbiodeohen forest in Uzebba where five warehouses were raided, with at least two tons of cannabis destroyed. Mr. Ojeagbese Asabiya, 66-year-old, was arrested at a deserted 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 for 20 hours as the operatives invaded and ransacked Ajobieye forest in Owo Local Government, leading to the burning of 1, 225 bags of cannabis sativa, weighing 12, 250 kilograms. A total of 414.5 kilograms and sample of fresh plants were brought to the office for prosecution purposes,” the statement read.
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