Two feared dead, scores injured as NDLEA raids Onitsha drug market

Two feared dead, scores injured as NDLEA raids Onitsha drug market

No casualty recorded during the raid in Onitsha Bridge Head market — NDLEA

About two persons were feared dead while scores sustained varying degrees of injury during a raid by operatives of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in the popular Bridge Head Market, Onitsha.

The casualties were reportedly recorded on Tuesday when someone raised an alarm that unknown gunmen were invading the market.

According to a trader who preferred anonymity, the alarm triggered stampede as traders and their customers scampered for safety in different directions.

He said, “We were in our shops, buying and selling when suddenly an alarm was raised. The alarm was coming in the direction of First Gate warning people that the market was being invaded by unknown gunmen.

“Initially, those of us at D-Line thought it was a joke but when people started running helter-skelter, we also joined, together with our customers. 

“It was later we heard that two or more persons died while many others were injured after they were trampled by people running away from the market,” he said.

Reacting, NDLEA spokesman, Femi Babafemi said no casualty was recorded during the agency’s raid in Onitsha Bridge Head market.

Refuting the allegation in a statement, Babafemi explained that NDLEA only mobilised operatives to Bridge Head following tip-off that consignments of assorted illicit drugs were about to enter  the market.

He said two members of a syndicate involved in the importation of the substances such as lethal synthetic opioid, Fentanyl were arrested during the raid.

The statement reads, “Two members of the syndicate: Odoh Collins Oguejiofor and Oliver Chigozie Uzoma were arrested at Ogbogwu Market, Bridge Head, Onitsha South LGA, Anambra State, in well-coordinated and clinical operations. 

“The arrest is coming on the heels of an alert issued by the anti-narcotics agency on Tuesday, 22nd November, 2022, that some criminal elements were plotting to flood the Nigerian market with the drug, which is currently responsible for over 70% of overdose deaths, as well as a major contributor to fatal and non-fatal overdoses in the United States.

“Following credible intelligence and synergy with local and international partners, the NDLEA was able to mobilise necessary assets to trace the illicitly manufactured drug to Onitsha Bridge Head, reputed to be the largest drug market in West Africa, after months of undercover monitoring.”

Experts had claimed that Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than tramadol and capable of causing mass casualty.

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