A clash erupted between operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and armed hoodlums in the Opuje community, Owan West local government area of Edo State, resulting in injuries to three NDLEA officers.
The armed individuals sought to block the access of anti-narcotic operatives to forest warehouses storing tons of processed psychoactive substances.
According to the NDLEA statement on Thursday, the attack occurred as the agency mobilized teams to enter Edo forests and dismantle warehouses holding illicit drugs ahead of the Christmas and New Year season.
The Opuje community had previously been targeted by NDLEA officers in January, uncovering massive cannabis sativa warehouses.
The Director, Media and Advocacy of the NDLEA, Mr. Femi Babafemi, explained, “Opuje community is notorious for cannabis cultivation, where the cartels invest huge resources, cutting down economic trees of the forest reserves and cultivating cannabis on a large scale.”
The statement disclosed that the drug cartels, anticipating NDLEA intervention, employed armed youths to guard the warehouses 24/7.
Teams of NDLEA officers managed to destroy some warehouses containing approximately 6,000kgs of cannabis in the Ujiogba forest in Esan West LGA last weekend.
However, on December 4th, armed hoodlums blocked access roads in the Opuje community, initiating a gunfire attack on NDLEA operatives.
After a two-hour gunfight, the operatives successfully withdrew, but three officers sustained injuries, including one shot in the head.
Some of the operation vehicles were also damaged by bullets.
NDLEA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Brig-Gen. Mohamed Marwa (Rtd), strongly condemned the attack, warning those sponsoring such actions that they would face the consequences of their criminal activities.
He expressed determination to continue the offensive against drug barons and cartels, emphasizing the agency’s commitment to safeguarding citizens, especially the youth, from the destructive influence of illicit substances.
The injured officers are currently receiving medical treatment, with one undergoing surgery to remove bullets lodged in his brain.
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