The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has strongly condemned the recent violent attack on enforcement agents of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Edo state.
The group expressed its solidarity with NDLEA’s efforts to combat hard drugs and illicit substances, while calling the attack unwarranted, despicable, reprehensible and absolutely distasteful.
According to HURIWA, patriotic operatives of NDLEA successfully repelled a coordinated violent attack by armed hoodlums who blocked all roads in Opuje community, Owan West local government area of Edo state.
This happened as they attempted to access forest warehouses where tons of processed psychoactive substances have been stored for distribution nationwide ahead of the coming Christmas and New Year season.
This is not the first time such an attack has occurred; just 11 months ago armed youths recruited by drug barons ambushed NDLEA officers who stormed the community to destroy massive warehouses storing over 317 metric tons of cannabis sativa.
Despite these challenges, HURIWA in a statement by its national coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko commended NDLEA for its resilience and successful arrest of three suspects: Omoruan Theophilus, Aigberuan Jacob and Naomi Patience Ohiewere during their previous encounter.
HURIWA citing a media communication from the NDLEA alleged that the 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, running into hundreds of hectares. After harvest, they build warehouses inside the forest reserves and employ the services of armed youths to protect the warehouses 24/7.
“We in HURIWA have been told that consequent upon receiving credible intelligence that the drug cartels had again stocked their warehouses in the forest to start distribution of the psychoactive substance to various parts of the country ahead of the yuletide season, teams of NDLEA officers were mobilized to enter the Edo forests and block the distribution of the illicit drug by destroying their warehouses. Some of the warehouses containing about 6,000kgs of cannabis were first taken down in Ujiogba forest in Esan West LGA last weekend.”
“The NDLEA teams however came under gunfire attack in the early hours of Monday 4th December when they approached the Opuje forest after the armed hoodlums had blocked all access roads in the community. The NDLEA operatives were able to exit the area after over two hours of gun fight with the armed hoodlums.”
“Unfortunately, three of the officers were injured in the attack with one of them shot in the head while some of the vehicles used for the operation were riddled with bullets. The affected officers were rushed to the hospital for treatment while the critically injured one had a major surgery on Wednesday 6th December to remove the bullets in his brain.”
In light this event HURIWA praised Chairman Mohamed Buba Marwa’s charismatic leadership as well as resilient management team but underscored severity phenomenon daredevil activities hard drug kingpins throughout country urging Nigerians worldwide support comprehensive result-oriented war against drugs even extending gratitude President Bola Ahmed Tinubu providing enabling environment scale up counter-narcotic battles across Nigeria.