The Ujiogba Forest Reserve in Esan West LGA, Edo State, was invaded by agents of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), who destroyed 7,286 kilograms (72.86 tons) of stored skunk and five hectares of its crop.
In a statement released on Thursday, the agency’s spokesman, Femi Babafemi, said the special operation on February 22nd was the result of credible information that some cartels had stored hundreds of jumbo bags of the illegal substance inside the reserve’s dense forest in preparation for distributing it to some states ahead of the general elections.
Babafemi said the operation could however not go on immediately until after several road blocks set up by armed guards of the drug lords were cleared by the superior firepower of Strike Force officers of the agency in a gun duel.
The statement reads: “After the initial resistance, two rifles, spent cartridges of short guns and an empty shell of AK47 rifle were 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.”