By Olusegun Olanrewaju
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has intercepted consignments of illicit drugs that were meant to be shipped to South Africa and Kenya.
The drugs, including various quantities of ephedrine, skunk, and nitrous oxide, popularly known as laughing gas, were concealed in semovita packs and dry pepper intercepted at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos.
The NDLEA operatives also arrested some members of the Transnational Drug Trafficking Organisation (DTO) who were alleged to be behind the illicit drugs.
The anti-narcotics agency also raided the mansions of the arrested DTO members and seized the luxury vehicles parked in their compounds.
NDLEA Director, Media and Advocacy, stated these in a release, adding that the agency is intensifying its War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) campaigns across the states.
NDLEA operatives, acting on credible intelligence, on Friday, 25 August, intercepted a notorious drug trafficker, Suleiman Babatunde Oba.
The suspect is said to be a member of a cartel distributing cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and ephedrine between Nigeria, Brazil, Ghana, South Africa, Mozambique, and Europe.
“He was arrested while attempting to board a Rwanda Air flight to South Africa with two boxes loaded with ephedrine sealed in semovita packs.
“The recovered substance is a precursor chemical and active ingredient in the production of methamphetamine.
As contained in his statement, Suleiman, who holds a South African Passport, is married to a South African lady and has lived in that country for over 20 years.
He also identified Hakeem Babatunde Salami who equally lives in Lagos and South Africa as the head of the drug ring.
“A follow-up raid in the house of Salami located at 75 Wosilatu Dawodu Street, Ijesha, Aguda area of Surulere, Lagos on Monday, 28 August revealed that Salami had fled the country on the same day Suleiman was arrested.
“However, a white Toyota Venza car with registration number LSR 410 HT, a Mercedes Benz SUV marked LSD 998HP, phones, and vital documents needed for further investigation were recovered from the house,” it was stated in the release.
In August 2021, the Agency seized 25.60kg ephedrine from a trafficker, Arua Emmanuel Onwuka, at the Lagos Airport.
The seizure has also been traced to the same cartel whose identified members are currently on the run.
“An official of the airport, Godwin Shedrack (a.k.a Goddy) fingered as a member of the syndicate, is also under investigation,” it was added in the release.
Also, an attempt by another syndicate to export 10.40kg skunk concealed with scent leaf and pepper, to Nairobi, Kenya, was thwarted by NDLEA operatives attached to the NAHCO Export Shed on Saturday 26 August.
A suspect, Ekechukwu Sixtus Ndubuisi, has already been arrested in connection with the seizure, it was stated.
Another bid to export a consignment of 180 cannisters of laughing gas to South Africa by a freight agent, Oyekola Gbenga Akeem, was frustrated by NDLEA operatives.
The freight agent, said to have accepted to be part of the drug deal for a fee of N2 million was arrested, while the cargo was also seized.
In another development, NDLEA operatives, on Friday, 25 August, successfully arrested a drug kingpin suspect, Ngene Emmanuel Onyedikachi.
Onyedikachi was said to have recruited the fake couple, Ilonzeh Kingsley Onyebuchi and Ilonzeh Roseline Nonyelum, who were arrested at the Lagos Airport on 1 August on their way to India.
The fake couple were said to have ingested 1.822kg and 1.50kg of cocaine, respectively.
The drug kingpin was picked up at his residence located at 28 Afolabi Brown Street, Akoka, Yaba, after intensive surveillance that lasted 25 days.
Onyedikachi confessed that Ilonzeh Kingsley Onyebuchi and Ilonzeh Roseline Nonyelum were introduced to him by another member of his syndicate, whom he claimed he met at Zion Church in the Cele area of Lagos.
The drug kingpin further explained that the drug was sourced from Guinea Conakry.
He said he threw away his old mobile phone along with the SIM cards to avoid being traced when he got information about the arrest of the fake couple.
He added that he became relaxed and refused to leave his house because the two drug couriers did not know his house since they had only met twice at different locations.
Onyedikachi said he was living in India before he returned to Nigeria in 2022 after the Indian authorities discovered that he was using an Ivory Coast International Passport.
A blue Acura Legend car was part of items recovered from the home of the drug kingpin during his arrest.
Lagos State Command of NDLEA, last Monday, arrested a suspect, Peter Iwebema, at Ikorodu with 79 and a half bags of cannabis sativa, weighing 864.5kg.
Also, NDLEA operatives at TinCan Port Command intercepted 27 parcels of Colorado, weighing 13.5kg.
“The seizure was made from a container, MSMU 5664550 coming from Toronto via Montreal, Canada during a joint examination with men of Customs Service.
“The synthetic substance was discovered concealed in a bag hidden a Ford Edge SUV, which was part of three units of used vehicles and motor parts in the container,” it was stated.
Last Tuesday, operatives of the anti-narcotics agency arrested two male suspects in Sokoto State. The two suspects- Nafiu Arzika (30) and Jamilu Aminu (35)- were caught with 330kg skunk.
Another suspect, Ismaila Razak (38), was nabbed with 34.5kg of the same substance and 9.5 grams of methamphetamines at the Olodo area of Ibadan, Oyo State, on Saturday.
Meanwhile, NDLEA has intensified the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) campaigns across the states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
The anti-narcotics agency is targeting schools, worship places, palaces, and local communities, among others.
Chairman/CEO of NDLEA, Brig. Gen Buba Marwa (retd), has commended his officers and men across the commands for their efforts in drug supply reduction and drug demand reduction activities.
The head of the anti-narcotics charged them and their colleagues in other commands across the country to remain steadfast.