By Anayo Okoli & Nwabueze Okonkwo
ONITSHA — The Nigerian Navy at the Onitsha Naval Out-post in Anambra State, yesterday, arrested 20 suspected drug peddlers at Nsugbe, near Onitsha, following an intelligence report against the activities of hard drug users in the community.
This came as the Abia State Vigilante Service has paraded over 60 persons suspected to be hard drug users and peddlers arrested in Aba, the commercial city of Abia State.
Briefing newsmen after the operation, the Commanding Officer of Naval Out-post, Onitsha, Navy Capt. Mike Oamen, said it was only by fighting hard drugs that the war against criminals and their syndicates could be won.
Oamen noted that those arrested were selling and smuggling bags of hard drugs such as cannabis sativa and other stimulants in the community.
He said the navy had assured the governor that Onitsha and its environs would never again be a haven and breeding ground for criminals and people with evil intentions.
His words: “So, what we have done is to make sure that we begin to deal with the root cause.
“After exhaustive discussion, especially at the security council meeting, we decided to look at how to reduce to the barest minimum, the availability of illegal drugs in Onitsha and Obosi so that it would also have an impact on the level of crime within the state.
“We are working. We try to get intelligence reports so that we swoop on them and that method is beginning to yield dividends because the crime rate has reduced and we will continue to sustain the effort.
“So the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, will now do its work by sorting those arrested out to know those that would be prosecuted. We’ve intensified patrol on waterways too, because it is part of the route through which they bring in the drugs in the name of vegetables.
“Traditional rulers had given their unflinching support to the restoration of security in Onitsha and its environs by volunteering information that led to arrest of criminal elements in their communities.”
The commander added that the collaboration of the naval out-post and the NDLEA would be a continuous exercise, adding that the navy would not give them (criminals) a breathing space in Onitsha and its environs.
He said: “Very soon, those shops, kiosk, shanties and even parlours and hotels where hard drugs are sold would be closed down while their operators will have to look for better things to do.”
Abia vigilante parades 60
According to the commander of the vigilante group, Mr. Idika Martins, the suspects were arrested in their hideout at Nkwa Road by Iheoji in the city, which he said was notorious for drug peddling and other crimes.
Among the suspects was a dismissed soldier from Eda in Ebonyi State who gave his name as Private Amakalu.
The hideout, a well fortified but unkempt big compound, according to him, belongs to a man described as a drug baron whose nick name was simply given as Paraboy. He is said to be on the run.
Idika said hard drug users and other criminal elements gather at the place to smoke and attack innocent people.