By Kingsley Omonobi— ABUJA
Barely one week after the new Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa(retd) vowed to dismantle drug trafficking cartels across Nigeria, the agency has made huge seizures of cocaine and heroin, with street values worth over N30 billion at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.
One of the seizures, 26.840 kilograms of cocaine, is the biggest single seizure from an individual in the past 15 years.
According to a top official of the agency, “On January 27, at about 1:20p.m, during the inward clearance of Ethiopian Airline passengers at the E- arrival hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, a female passenger by name Jennifer, 33, who arrived Nigeria from Sao Paulo, Brazil via Addis Ababa, was intercepted by NDLEA operatives.
“As a standard operating procedure, all passengers to and from high-risk countries are always profiled using passengers’ manifest.
“It happened that the above-named suspect was targeted.
“Consequently, she was taken to NDLEA office at the Airport, where her bags were searched thoroughly, and in the process, whitish powdery substances were found concealed inside 16 pieces of duvet contained in her two travel bags.
“Field test was conducted on the recovered substances and proved positive to Cocaine and weighed 26.850kilograms.
“The suspect who is a hair stylist and based in Brazil was interviewed and she confessed to have agreed to smuggle the hard drug for N2,000,000 only.
“Although she refused to disclose the names of her associates, she mentioned that she was asked to hand over the drugs to another person.
“The street value of this singular seizure is put at over N21 billion.”
The official further disclosed that the development came on the heels of a similar one recorded two days earlier at the airport, precisely on January 25.
He said a red left-over luggage was declared to the NDLEA operatives as a left over at the E-arrival hall after the inward clearance of passengers on Ethiopian airline.
“Based on information on the luggage tag, the luggage arrived Nigeria from Sao Paulo, Brazil, a destination classified as high-risk country going by records and trends of arrest and seizures.
“Subsequently, the bag was transferred to the NDLEA ‘Legal Seat’ being the administrative office at the passenger terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, for detention.
“While this was going on, the NDLEA Commander at the MMIA, Ahmadu Garba received an intelligence report of a purported plan to clear a consignment containing hard drug through the Lagos airport.
“Coincidentally, the details sent matched the bag earlier detained by the operatives at the Lagos airport.
“In a coordinated operation, on January 27, an NDLEA undercover agent was contacted by one Abubakar Aliyu.
“Guided by the operation and investigation unit, the undercover agent successfully lured the said Abubakar Aliyu into the cargo terminal of the airport where he was arrested.
“The suspect revealed to NDLEA operatives that another person was on his way to receive the bag based on the instruction of his sender who he gave his name as Ikechukwu Eze.
“As a result, one Emmanuel Iyke Aniebonam, who was to receive the bag, was also arrested at NAHCO. During preliminary interview by a team of investigators, Emmanuel confessed that he was instructed by one Ikechukwu to receive the consignment.
“Emmanuel was again set up to lure in Ikechukwu Eze. But rather than showing up to get the consignment from Emmanuel, he sent another who said he was mandated to receive the consignment from him, and they agreed to meet at a hotel, a few miles away from the airport.
“A follow-up operation was quickly organised to the hotel, where one Onwurah Kelvin was arrested and brought to the office.
“The suspect confessed during interview that he was sent by one Ikechukwu to receive the consignment.
“Thereafter, the detained bag was opened in the presence all the three suspects and whitish powdery substances were discovered neatly concealed and sewn inside five children duvets.
“Field test was carried out on the exhibits proved they are cocaine weighed to be 8.400 Kilograms, with a street value of over N7 billion.”
It was further learned that on January 24, at about 12 noon, one Edosa Christopher was arrested at the passengers screening point of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and subjected to body scan, which proved positive for hard drugs ingestion.
According to the anti-drug law enforcement agency, “the suspect was immediately transferred to NDLEA/JBTF office and placed on excretion observation.
“Subsequently, he excreted a total of 68 wraps of substance, which was tested and proved positive to heroin. It was also weighed 950 grams.
“During an interview, Edosa Christopher confessed to have bought the illicit substance at the cost of N800,000 from someone he referred to as ‘Paddy’.
According to the suspect, he met the said PADDY at hotel around Ago Palace way in Lagos, where he lodged briefly. Further investigation, however, revealed that the hotel does not exist anywhere in Lagos.
An official at the national headquarters of the NDLEA in Abuja, who confirmed the development, said the chairman of the agency, Marwa had already commended the MMIA, Lagos commander, Ahmadu Garba and his team for their efforts and following up on his directives at a meeting with all the commanders in charge of the 36 states, FCT and special commands.