How NDLEA seized cocaine, heroin worth over ₦30bn at Lagos airport

By our reporter| Barely a week after Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa, the newly appointed chairman of The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), vowed to dismantle drug trafficking cartels across the country, the agency on Sunday said it has seized cocaine and heroin worth over ₦30 billion at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.

According to a top official of the agency, one of the seizures, 26.840 kilograms of cocaine is the biggest single seizure from an individual in the past 15 years.

Narrating how the seizure was made, the official said, “On the 27th of January 2021, at about 13:20 hours, 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 old), 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 the sum of Two Million Naira (N2,000,000) only. Although she refused to disclose the names of her associates but 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 N21billion.”

According to the official, the development came on the heels of a similar one recorded two days earlier at the airport, (January 25) 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 in 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, 2021, 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 whose name he gave to be Ikechukwu Eze.

“Shortly after, 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”.

The NDLEA official further explained that Emmanuel was again set up to lure in Ikechukwu Eze but rather than showing up to get the consignment, he sent another who said he was mandated to receive the consignment from Emmanuel, and they agreed to meet at Ibis Royal 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 of all the three suspects, whitish powdery substances were discovered neatly concealed and sewn inside five children duvets. Field tests carried out on the exhibits proved they are cocaine weighed to be 8.400 Kilograms, with a street value of over N7billion.”

It was also learnt that on January 24, at about 12:00 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 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 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.”

The NDLEA official who confirmed the developments said the chairman of the agency, Gen. Marwa has commended the MMIA, Lagos commander, Ahmadu Garba, and his team for their efforts and for following up on his directives during a meeting with all the commanders in charge of the 36 states, FCT and special commands.

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