- July 8, 2022
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Michael Olugbode in Abuja
Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have intercepted at the nation’s three major airports of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt large consignments of cocaine which Brazil-based drug cartels tried to smuggle into the country.
According to the spokesman of the NDLEA, Femi Babafemi, arrested were seven traffickers in the smashes.
A statement on Sunday by the spokesman said at the Port Harcourt International Airport, five suspects were arrested on Saturday 9th April.
Three of them were arrested during the inward screening of passengers on board Qatar Airline flight QR1433 from Doha to Port Harcourt.
He said the three suspects departed Sao Paulo, Brazil on board same Qatar flight, en-route Doha to Abuja and Port Harcourt with a total of 24.96 kilogrammes of cocaine.
Babafemi said the first is 51-year-old Udogwu Johnson, who was arrested with 5.48 kilogrammes of cocaine concealed in lotion plastic bottles sealed with candle wax. He claimed he agreed to traffic the drug for a fee of N1 million.
He said also arrested is Ezekwueme Valentine, 32, who was caught with 10.82 kilogrammes of cocaine packed in 84 sachets concealed in seven duvets, while the third trafficker, Chiezie Ikechukwu Arinze, 35, was arrested with 8.66 kilogrammes of cocaine hidden in 115 golden and silver colour 30ml breakable bottles factory packaged with lotion on top.
The fourth suspect, Uchechukwu Onwugbufor, 42, according to Babafemi, was arrested at the airport car park while waiting to receive one of the traffickers, Udogwu James and his consignment.
He claimed he was contacted by someone in Brazil to receive Udogwu and lead him to Lagos for a fee of N100,000. Uchechukwu Onwugbufor was at the airport with his neigbour, Nwogu Ezimadu, who is equally being investigated to determine if he is complicit in the crime or not.
He said at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, a Psychology graduate of Imo State University, Owerri, Sebastine Kelvin, 30, was arrested with 74 pellets of cocaine weighing 1.454 kilogrammes on arrival aboard Ethiopian Airline flight enroute Doula-Addis Ababa-Abuja last Wednesday.
He said the father of one, who claims he is a motor spare parts dealer, stated that he lived in Cameroon for six years before going into the drug business to raise money to boost his trade.
He added that he was introduced to the man who gave him the drugs at Addis Ababa by another person serving jail term for drug offence at the Doula Newbell Prison.
Babafemi said in Lagos, another Brazil-based passenger, Uba Samuel, was arrested at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport by NDLEA operatives last Friday on arrival aboard Ethiopian Airline flight from Sao Paulo via Addis Ababa to Lagos with sachets of cocaine weighing 633 grammes concealed in his footwear and toothpaste tube.
The suspect, who claimed to be a shoemaker and barber, while accepting ownership of the drug, said he used his shoe making knowledge to conceal the drug in his pair of sandals.
Uba, who is a regular traveller, confessed he bought the drug to sell at a market in Abia.
In other clampdown, more illicit substances were recovered in raid operations in other parts of the country.
In Gadaka village of Fika Local Government Area, Yobe State, NDLEA operatives arrested one Hassan Usman with a total of 22,110 tablets of Tramadol, D5 and Exol 5, while one Ali Mohammed was nabbed in a commercial vehicle coming from Kano to Maiduguri with 40 blocks of cannabis weighing 33 kilogrammes.
Also arrested on the Kano-Maiduguri route was a driver, Ibrahim Khalil Idris, with 60 packets of Tramadol, all on Tuesday 12th April.
In Kogi State, 750 blocks of cannabis weighing 750 kilogrammes were seized from two suspects — Hassan Adamu, 25, and Abdulmalik Abdullahi, 24 — along Okene-Abuja highway. The drug exhibits were concealed inside fabricated panels of a Ford bus.
Meanwhile, the Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), has commended the officers and men of the PHIA, NAIA, MMIA, Yobe, and Kogi Commands of the agency for disrupting desperate attempts by drug cartels to traffic dangerous drugs into Nigeria and across the country.
He said the huge seizures at the airports will send a strong message to drug barons that Nigeria will no longer be their safe destination or transit route.
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