By Femi Babafemi
No fewer than 4,560 kilograms of skunk have been seized in interdiction operations in Lagos, Adamawa and Osun by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, who also raided a skucchies factory in Ogun and arrested four members of a drug syndicate including two church officials; female staff of a courier company and another lady, involved in trafficking lethal opioid, fentanyl in Delta.
The bust of the fentanyl cartel operating from Warri, Delta state is coming barely a month after two members of another syndicate: Odoh Collins Oguejiofor and Oliver Chigozie Uzoma were arrested at Ogbogwu market, Onitsha Head Bridge, Onitsha South Local Government Area, Anambra State following months of intelligence-led investigation of the syndicates behind the dangerous drug, which is 100 times more potent than heroin and currently responsible for over 70% overdose deaths as well as a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the United States.
Two officials of Christ Mercyland Deliverance Ministries (aka Mercy City Church), Warri, Delta state: Adewale Abayomi Ayeni, 39, and Ebipakebina Appeal, 41, linked to two intercepted consignments of the illicit drug have been arrested in Warri. While Ayeni is one of those managing the prayer call centre of the church, Ebipakebina is in charge of movement of international guests from the airport to the church.
Two female accomplices also arrested in Warri in the course of investigating the intercepted shipments include Naomi David, 28, who is a staff of United Parcel Services (UPS), and Stacy Njideka, also known as Nkiruka, 27, who is a business associate of Ayeni.
Meanwhile, operatives of the Agency on Wednesday 5th July, intercepted a Toyota Hilux vehicle marked EPE 863 XD along Ngurore-Mayo Belwa road, Adamawa State. A search of the van with two occupants: Kelvin Efe, 51, and Christian Ogaga, 42, shows that 118 cartoons of Indomie Noodles packs were used to conceal 544 blocks of compressed cannabis sativa, weighing 408kg hidden in a false compartment and meant for distribution in Yola, Mubi and Gombe.
In Lagos, NDLEA operatives on Saturday 1st July arrested a suspect, Segun Odeyemi conveying 89 jumbo bags of skunk with a total weight of 3,842kg in his truck around Eleganza area of Ajah, Lekki, while in Osun state, an abandoned J5 Peugeot bus marked AAA 521 SQ with bags of fresh pepper used to conceal 25 bags of cannabis sativa weighing 300.5kg was recovered along Akure-Ilesa expressway after its occupants sighted NDLEA officers on patrol on Friday 7th July.
In the same vein, operatives in Ogun state on Thursday 6th July, raided a skucchies factory at Ajaka Sagamu where a suspect, Adekunle Adekola was arrested. Exhibits recovered from the premises include: 10kg cannabis; 1,356 litres of skucchies; 20 litres of codeine; seven deep freezers; a set of firman generator; and two gas cylinders among others.
While commending the team of NDLEA officers tracking the fentanyl opioid syndicate in Nigeria for the success of the operations so far, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Agency, Brigadier General Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retired) also gave thumbs up to their counterparts in Adamawa, Lagos, Osun and Ogun for the arrests and seizures of the past week. He charged them and their compatriots across the country to continue to set their eyes on the goal of ridding the nation of substance abuse and illicit drug trafficking.
Views exclusive rights: Femi Babafemi, Director, Media and Advocacy, NDLEA Headquarters, Abuja, Sunday 9th July 2023.