Chinedu Eze â€¨
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has apprehended three clearing agents at the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) export area of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos.
The clearing agents were caught when they tried to smuggle two consignments of methamphetamine onboard an Emirate flight to Malaysia.
NDLEA in a statement said that the drug weighed 36.44kg and was concealed in foodstuffs and laptop bags declared as personal effects by the consignor, but the agency officials dismissed the claim by the suspects and insisted on carrying out a search of the consignment where the drug was lodged.
On finding the drug, the suspects claimed that they thought the methamphetamine was a food seasoning.
NDLEA commander at the Lagos Airport, Mr Hamza Umar disclosed that the seizure was made during a search at the export processing section.
“Following the discovery of the drug, we arrested three clearing agents currently being interrogated. Their names are Bolarinwa Labaika, 31, and Abiodun Ofunaya, 30, held in connection with 6.955kg as well as Ugochukwu Amagbu, 39, arrested in connection with 29.485kg. The total weight of methamphetamine found in both packages is 36.44kg. The first consignment of methamphetamine hidden in garri, dry fish and yams weighed 6.955kg while the second weighing 29.485kg was hidden in laptop bags,” Hamza explained.
According to the statement, the Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade has warned the clearing agents, urging them to know their customers as the law would run its full course if they were found wanting.
“Agents are expected to take necessary precautionary measures such as knowing their customers and conducting checks on any consignment for shipment. The agency will continue to prosecute agents whenever we detect drugs in any cargo that they are processing. Investigation has commenced and we hope to apprehend other persons connected with the illegal shipment,” Giade said.
The agency said the suspects were cooperating with narcotic investigators in charge of the cases and would soon be prosecuted over unlawful exportation of narcotics, adding that all suspects had volunteered their statements and officers were working to determine their levels of involvement as well as identify other persons connected to the crime.
The statement quoted Bolarinwa Labaika as saying that he was invited by a fellow agent by the name Abiodun Ofunaya to process a shipment to Malaysia.
“I was contacted by Abiodun to handle a shipment and I agreed to work with him.”
However, Abiodun Ofunaya in his statement said that he was told that the consignment was all foodstuffs.
“The owner told me it contained garri, dry fish and food ingredients. I thought the drug is a food seasoning known as ajino moto,” he said.
Ugochukwu Amagbu who was handling the consignment with 29.485kg of methamphetamine said the consignor told him that it contained personal effects.