Substances suspected to be cocaine worth N21bn have been recovered from a hairstylist, Jennifer Onyejegbu, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
It was learnt that the officials discovered another drug later confirmed to be cocaine worth N7bn in luggage abandoned at the E-arrival hall of the airport 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.
Four persons; Abubakar Aliyu, Ikechukwu Eze, Emmanuel Aniebonam and Onwurah Kelvin were later arrested in connection with the drug.
The two seizures were reportedly made on January 25 and 27, with the 26.840 kilograms cocaine recovered from 33-year-old Onyejegbu. It was described as the biggest single seizure from an individual in the past 15 years.
An official of the agency said, “The female passenger (Onyejegbu) arrived in 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 the 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 be cocaine weighing 26.850kg. The suspect who is a hairstylist and based in Brazil was interviewed and she confessed to have agreed to smuggle the hard drug for the sum of N2m.”
Although the suspect refused to disclose the names of her associates, she reportedly stated that she was asked to hand over the drugs to another person.
“The street value of this singular seizure is put at over N21bn,” the official added.
Another senior official of the anti-narcotic agency said the abandoned bag recovered two days earlier was also sent from Sao Paulo.
The source said, “Subsequently, the bag was transferred to the NDLEA ‘Legal Seat’ being the administrative office at the passenger terminal of the MMIA 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 drugs 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 Aliyu into the cargo terminal of the airport where he was arrested.”
Through Aliyu, another suspect, Aniebonam, who was to receive the bag on the orders of one Ikechukwu Eze, at NAHCO was also arrested.
During a preliminary interview, Aniebonam was said to have been used as bait to get Eze but rather than showing up, he sent Kelvin who was picked up at a hotel near the airport where he was supposed to collect the bag.
The official added, “The suspect (Eze) confessed during the 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’s duvets. Field test was carried out on the exhibits proved they are cocaine weighing 8.400 Kilograms, with a street value of over N7bn.”
Also, one Edosa Christopher was reportedly apprehended on January 24 during the screening of the passengers and was subjected to a body scan which proved positive for hard drugs ingestion.
He was said to have been placed on excretion observation and excreted 68 wraps of substance that tested positive for heroin, weighing 950 grams.
Another source stated, “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 a 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 spokesperson for the agency, Jonah Achema, while confirming the arrests, said the chairman of the agency, Gen. Mohammed Marwa (retd.) commended the MMIA, Lagos commander, Ahmadu Garba and his team for the seizures.