–BY SUNNY A. DAVID:
The operatives of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has raided the popular Bridge Head Drug Market, Onitsha. Two men were feared dead with scores sustaining different degrees of injuries during the raid, on Wednesday.
Although there has been no official confirmation of the incident, a trader who preferred anonymity said the casualties were recorded when someone raised an alarm that unknown gunmen were invading the market.
According to him, it was the alarm that triggered stampede as traders and their customers ran for safety in different directions.
“We were in our shops, selling and buying 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.
“First, we 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 stated.
But NDLEA Spokesman, Mr. Femi Babafemi, said there was no casualty during the agency’s raid on Onitsha Head Bridge Market.
Mr. Babafemi stated this in a press release issued by the agency over the allegation.
Explaining that NDLEA only mobilised operatives to Bridge Head following a 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 the substances such as lethal synthetic opioid, Fentanyl were arrested during the raid.
According to the Spokesman, the suspects are Odoh Collins Oguejiofor and Oliver Chigozie Uzoma.
“Two members of the syndicate: Odoh Collins Oguejiofor and Oliver Chigozie Uzoma were arrested at Ogbogwu Market, Onitsha Head Bridge, Onitsha South Local Government Area, 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 Head Bridge, reputed to be the largest drug market in West Africa, after months of undercover monitoring,” Mr. Babafemi stated.
It will be recalled that experts say fentanyi is 100 times stronger than tramadol and capable of causing mass casualty.