At least, cocaine worth over N30 billion was seized at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos in one week, senior officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have disclosed.
Just before the seizure, the new Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa had pledged to dismantle drug trafficking cartels across Nigeria, warning those in the illicit deal to desist from it.
Senior officials of the agency, who privately spoke with THISDAY at the weekend, gave account of hard drugs that were seized and drug dealers that were arrested just after President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Marwa as NDLEA’s chief.
Buhari had appointed Marwa, a former military administrator of Lagos and Borno states, as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
In a private conversation with THISDAY, an NDLEA official said said one of the seized parcels, weighing 26.840 kilograms of cocaine “is the biggest single seized from an individual in the past 15 years.
“On January 27, at about 1320hours, 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 Onyejegbu Ifesinachi Jennifer, 33 years, 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 for 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 the sum of 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, 2021 when 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 drugs through the Lagos airport. Coincidentally, the details sent matched the bag earlier detained by the operatives at the Lagos airport.”
Another NDLEA official explained how an undercover agent was contacted by one Abubakar Aliyu. Guided by the operation and investigation unit, he said the undercover agent successfully lured the said Abubakar Aliyu into the cargo terminal of the airport where he was arrested.
He said the suspect revealed “to NDLEA operatives that another person was on his way to receive the bag based on the instruction of his sender, whose name he gave as Ikechukwu Eze.
“As a result, one Emmanuel Iyke Aniebonam, who was to receive the bag was also arrested at NAHCO. During a 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 Ibis Royal Hotel, a few miles away from the airport.”
He said 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 the interview that he was sent by one Ikechukwu to receive the consignment.”
Thereafter, the source claimed that the detained bag was opened in the presence of all the three suspects, whitish powdery substances were discovered neatly concealed and sewn inside five children’s duvets.
According to him, a field test was carried out on the exhibits proving they are cocaine weighing 8.400 kilograms, with a street value of over N7 billion
It was further learnt that on January 24, at about 1200 hours, 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 were tested and proved positive to heroin. It 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 Eagle Rock hotel around Ago Palace Way in Lagos, where he lodged for a brief stay. 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.