In a daring confrontation, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) officers bravely thwarted an armed attack by hoodlums in Opuje community, Owan West local government area of Edo state. The armed assailants sought to impede the anti-narcotic operatives’ access to forest warehouses containing substantial quantities of processed psychoactive substances intended for distribution nationwide during the upcoming festive season.
This incident echoes a similar encounter just 11 months ago when armed youths, allegedly recruited by drug barons, ambushed NDLEA officers attempting to dismantle massive cannabis warehouses in the community.
Opuje community has gained notoriety for large-scale cannabis cultivation, with cartels investing heavily, deforesting areas and cultivating cannabis on an expansive scale spanning hundreds of hectares. After harvest, warehouses are erected within forest reserves, guarded by armed youths around the clock.
Acting on credible intelligence indicating a renewed stockpiling of illicit drugs in preparation for distribution, NDLEA teams were mobilized to dismantle these operations. In a recent operation in Ujiogba forest, about 6,000 kilograms of cannabis were confiscated from warehouses.
However, on Monday, December 4th, NDLEA teams encountered gunfire as they approached the Opuje forest, with armed hoodlums blocking all access roads in the community. After an intense two-hour firefight, NDLEA operatives managed to withdraw from the area, but not without casualties. Three officers were injured, with one sustaining a head injury. Vehicles used in the operation bore bullet holes.
The injured officers were promptly transported to the hospital, where one underwent a critical brain surgery on December 6th to remove the lodged bullets. In response to the attack, NDLEA Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd), issued a stern warning, vowing relentless pursuit of those sponsoring attacks on operatives.
Despite the setback, Marwa commended the professionalism of the officers involved and affirmed the Agency’s unwavering commitment to its offensive against drug barons and cartels. The Chairman emphasized that such criminal enterprises jeopardize the lives of innocent citizens, particularly the youth, across the nation.