April 17, (THEWILL) – The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), has foiled attempts by Brazil-based drug cartels to smuggle large consignments of cocaine into Nigeria through three international airports.
Spokesperson of the Agency, Femi Babafemi, in a statement on Sunday, listed the three airports as Port Harcourt, Abuja and Lagos International Airports, adding that the operatives also arrested seven traffickers.
According to him, at the Port Harcourt International Airport, five suspects were arrested on April 9.
He said, “three of them were arrested during the inward screening of passengers on board Qatar Airline flight QR1433 from Doha to Port Harcourt.
“The three suspects departed Sao Paulo, Brazil, on board the same Qatar flight, en-route Doha to Abuja and Port Harcourt with a total of 24.96 kilograms of cocaine.
“The first is 51-year-old Udogwu James Johnson, who hails from Orlu LGA, Imo state.
“He was arrested with 5.48kg 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.”
According to Babafemi, also arrested is Ezekwueme Valentine, 32, from Aguata LGA, Anambra, who was caught with 10.82kg cocaine packed in 84 sachets concealed in seven duvets.
“The third trafficker, Chiezie Arinze, 35, from Dunukofia LGA, Anambra, was arrested with 8.66kg cocaine hidden in 115 golden and silver colour 30ml breakable bottles factory packaged with lotion on top.
“The fourth suspect, Uchechukwu Onwugbufor, 42, from Idemili North LGA, Anambra, 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.
“Onwugbufor was at the Airport with his neighbour, Nwogu Ezimadu, who is equally being investigated to determine if he’s complicit in the crime or not”, he said.
The NDLEA spokesperson said a psychology graduate of Imo State University, Owerri, Sebastine Kelvin, 30, was arrested with 74 pellets of cocaine weighing 1.454kg at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, NAIA, Abuja.
Babafemi said he was arrested on arrival aboard Ethiopian Airline flight enroute Doula-Addis Ababa-Abuja on April 13; adding that the father of one, who claimed he was a motor spare parts dealer was from Ezeagu in Ezeagu LGA, Enugu State.
He also said the suspect claimed he lived in Cameroon for six years before going into the drug business to raise money to boost his trade.
“He said he was introduced to the man who gave him the drugs in Addis Ababa by another person serving jail term for drug offence at the Doula Newbell Prison”, he said.
Babafemi said another Brazil based passenger, Uba Samuel, was arrested at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos by NDLEA operatives on April 15.
He said the suspect was arrested on arrival aboard Ethiopian Airline flight from Sao Paulo via Addis Ababa to Lagos with sachets of cocaine weighing 633grams concealed in his footwear and toothpaste tube.
“The suspect, who claims to be a shoemaker and barber, hails from Umunneochi, Abia state.
“While accepting ownership of the drug, he 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”, he said.
Meanwhile, more illicit substances were recovered in raid operations in other parts of the country.
Babafemi said operatives arrested one Hassan Usman with a total of 22,110 tablets of Tramadol, D5 and Exol 5 in Gadaka village of Fika LGA, Yobe.
He said one Ali Mohammed was also nabbed in a commercial vehicle coming from Kano to Maiduguri with 40 blocks of cannabis weighing 33kg.
“Also arrested on the Kano-Maiduguri route was a driver, Ibrahim Khalil Idris, with 60 packets of Tramadol, all on Tuesday April 12.
“In Kogi, 750 blocks of Cannabis weighing 750kg 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”, he said.
Babafemi quoted the Chairman, NDLEA, Brig.-Gen Buba Marwa (Rtd.) as commending the officers and men of the agency.
Marwa commended them 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 would send a strong message to drug barons that Nigeria would no longer be their safe destination or transit route.