The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has confirmed the arrest of two officials of the Christ Mercyland Deliverance Ministries, popularly known as Mercy City Church in Warri, Delta State, for allegedly dealing in illicit drugs in the state.
The spokesperson for the agency, Femi Babafemi, in a statement, identified the two officials as Adewale Ayeni, 39, who manages the church’s prayer call centre and Ebipakebina Appeal, 41, who oversees the church’s international guests.
He also noted that the two suspects were linked to two intercepted consignments of illicit drugs in the course of their operations.
The statement read in part, “The bust of the fentanyl cartel operating from Warri, Delta State, is coming barely a month after two members of another syndicate, Odoh Oguejiofor and Oliver 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 the Christ Mercyland Deliverance Ministries, aka Mercy City Church, Warri, Delta State, Adewale Ayeni, 39, and Ebipakebina Appeal, 41, linked to two intercepted consignments of the illicit drug have been arrested in Warri.
“Ayeni is one of those managing the prayer call centre of the church, and Ebipakebina is in charge of the movement of international guests from the airport to the church. Two female accomplices were also arrested in Warri in the course of investigating the intercepted shipments including Naomi David, 28, who is a staff of United Parcel Services, and Stacy Njideka, also known as Nkiruka, 27, who is a business associate of Ayeni.”
In a bid to get the church’s reaction to the alleged crime committed by the accused members, our correspondent visited the church’s website and obtained phone numbers.
Calls made to the phone numbers rang out and a message sent to the numbers regarding the development was yet to be responded to as of the time this report was filed.
Meanwhile, Babafemi said 4,560 kilograms of skunk were seized in interdiction operations in Lagos, Adamawa, and Osun states.
He also said the NDLEA operatives raided a skucchies factory in Ogun and arrested four members of a drug syndicate.
The statement added, “Meanwhile, operatives of the agency, on Wednesday, July 5, 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 cartons of Indomie Noodles packs were used to conceal 544 blocks of compressed cannabis sativa, weighing 408kg, and hidden in a false compartment and meant for distribution in Yola, Mubi, and Gombe states.
“In Lagos, NDLEA operatives on Saturday, July 1, 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, July 7.”
In the same vein, operatives in Ogun State, on Thursday, July 6, 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 generators; and two gas cylinders, among others,” the statement said.