NDLEA Detains Two Wanted Drug Barons, Arrests Two Others for Ingesting 175 Wraps of Heroin

NDLEA Detains Two Wanted Drug Barons, Arrests Two Others for Ingesting 175 Wraps of Heroin

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have taken into custody two wanted suspected heads of transnational criminal organisations with multi-billion-naira worth of illicit drugs and assets seized from them.

According to a statement issued yesterday by the spokesman of NDLEA, Femi Babafemi, their arrest was after weeks of intelligence-led operations across the country and outside Nigeria.

He revealed that the arrest of the wanted drug lords came on the heels of the interception of consignments of cocaine and heroin buried in the bellies of two traffickers heading to Paris, France, and Doha, Qatar, by NDLEA officers at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

The spokesman said operatives at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, last Tuesday succeeded in taking into custody, Hakeem Salami, the arrowhead of ‘Tajudeen Babatunde Abioye Transnational Criminal Organisation’, involved in the illicit trade of several narcotics, including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and ephedrine between Nigeria, and Brazil, Ghana, South Africa, Mozambique, and Europe.

Salami was said to have fled Nigeria to South Africa upon the arrest of a member of his syndicate, Suleiman Oba, at the Lagos airport on August 25 over an attempt to export 25.1 kilogrammes of ephedrine to South Africa.

Babafemi said Hakeem Salami was however smoked out of hiding through partnership with South African authorities and other intelligence and investigative mechanisms, while some of his luxury vehicles have been seized and his home in Surulere, Lagos, sealed. Other members of the cartel already in custody include Suleiman and Godwin Edet Mathew.

According to Babafemi, Salami in his statement claimed he was into the importation of building materials from China to Nigeria, and used to sell gold in South Africa before delving into the illicit drug trade about two years ago.

He said the alleged head of another cartel, Okafor Ikechukwu (aka Jantu), and his wife, Okafor Ifeyinwa, were also taken into custody on October 5, when NDLEA operatives raided their hideout at No 9 Awa Street, Ago Palace, Okota area of Lagos where they recovered 27.566 kilogrammes of methamphetamine concealed in a blue box and two sacks ready for export to Europe and Asia.

He said their Lexus RX350 marked ABJ 512 AY parked in the house was also seized during the operation, noting that their arrest followed weeks of intelligence gathering about the activities of the criminal network.

Babafemi said at the Abuja airport, operatives on October 6 arrested a drug trafficker, Nwofor Ejiogu, 45, during the outward clearance of Qatar Airways flight QR 1432 to Doha. After a body scan revealed he ingested cocaine, he was placed under observation during which he excreted 75 pellets of cocaine weighing 1.653 kilogrammes, and at the point of his arrest, Nwofor who was the last passenger to board his flight allegedly offered to compromise an NDLEA officer with $3,000 to free him.

The spokesman said the following day, October 7, another trafficker, Nwufo Okwudili, 45, was also arrested while attempting to board Lufthansa Airlines flight LH 0595 to Paris, France, via Frankfurt, Germany.  After being put through the body scanner, he was taken into the recovery room where he excreted 96 wraps of heroin he ingested with a total weight of 1.413 kilogrammes.

Meanwhile, NDLEA operatives on patrol on Okene -Lokoja-Abuja expressway last Tuesday intercepted a commercial bus coming from Lagos to Kano. A search of the bus led to the seizure $4,880,000 and CFA57, 000,000 suspected to be counterfeits.

In Sokoto State, the Federal High Court in the state capital presided over by Justice Ahmad Mahmud has sentenced an acting district head, Alhaji Umar Mohammed (aka Dan Bala), to five and a half years in jail on four-count charges of possession and dealing in 436.38 kilogrammes of cannabis and 7 kilogrammes psychotropic drugs brought against him by NDLEA in October 2022.

He was convicted and sentenced to two years on each of counts 1 and 2 with an option of N1 million fine, and eight months on each of counts 3 and 4 without an option of fine.

Also, operatives in Edo State last Wednesday stormed the Orue forest in Owan West Local Government Area where they arrested Happy Akashili, 37, and Solomon Uwesue, 40, in a hut located inside a cannabis farm measuring 2.367308 hectares which was destroyed, with 92 kilogrammes already processed skunk recovered, while 49 kilogrammes of same substance were also seized at Ogbeturu camp.

Babafemi said the Commands across the country balanced their drug supply reduction operations with War Against Drug Abuse (WADA), and advocacy campaigns to schools, markets, worship centres and communities. Some of these include the WADA sensitisation lecture on Drug Use and Mental Health for students of 15 secondary schools in Ibadan metropolis at the University of Ibadan, Oyo state;  WADA sensitisation lecture for students of Ascension College, Iworo Imeke, Badagry Lagos;  WADA sensitisation lecture at Modern Comprehensive College, Amokwe, Udi LGA, Enugu;  WADA sensitisation lecture for students of National  Secondary school, Awka; Students of JIBWIS Islamic Science Secondary school, Herwagana, Gombe;  students of Government College, Makurdi, Benue; students of Government Secondary School (Boys), Kafin Maiyaki, Kano, and students of JNI Special Model Primary School, Gusau, Zamfara State.

Meanwhile, the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), while commending the efforts of the NAIA, MMIA, Kogi, Sokoto and Edo State Commands of the agency as well as the Special Operations Unit targeting the drug cartels, for a job well done in the past week, promised that officers and men of the agency would never let down their guards no matter the tricks and distractions orchestrated against it by criminal networks.

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