TOYOSI OGUNSEYE writes that four drug traffickers stare death in the face after ingesting hard drugs that have refused to leave their systems
These men and a woman have one thing in common: they are all waiting at deathâ€˜s gate.
Pity them not, however. They asked for it. Each of them allegedly has a minimum of 60 wraps of illicit drugs in their stomach and if they donâ€˜t excrete the poisonous substances in a few days, death may knock on their doors.
The spokesperson of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency, Mitchell Ofoyeju, says that the four drug traffickers are currently undergoing observation to excrete the drugs they swallowed.
He says, â€We arrested Ekundayo Alekusho, Latifu Mustapha, Chukwudi Onyeze and Innocent Ndigwe, a few days ago and itâ€˜s important they excrete everything in their system. The longer the drugs stay in their bodies, the more suicidal it becomes.â€
At 63, Mustapha may have been blessed with long life but with 100 wraps in his stomach, he may have shortened his life intentionally.
Mustapha is the oldest drug trafficker arrested this year at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.
Despite being a textile and jewellery merchant at the Balogun Market, Lagos, he says poverty pushed him into drug trafficking.
The father of nine, who hails from Osun State, was given the sum of â‚¬2,000 and was to receive another â‚¬2,000 on the successful delivery of the drugs.
The widower, who lost his wife 14 years ago, says, â€My wife died in a very painful circumstance. Since then my business collapsed and life has not been the same. It is poverty that made me to smuggle drugs.
â€When I was confronted with the option of drug trafficking I felt I should try my luck. My nine children are my main concern. I do not want to be seen as a bad father because my intention is to provide for them. I hope they will find a place in their heart to forgive me.â€
Alekusho, who has 80 wraps of drugs in her stomach, is also not a young person. The 56-year-old trader, who sells children clothes and jewellery at Mokola, Ibadan, Oyo State, was arrested on the same flight with Mustapha.
Her journey to Paris on an Iberia flight was terminated when a scanning machine detected that she swallowed the illicit substances.
Upon further search, she was also found to have inserted another wrap weighing 200g in her private parts.
The divorcee with three children claims one of her customers lured her into ingesting the substances.
Alekusho, who hails from Abeokuta, Ogun State, says, â€My eldest child is 30 years. One of my female customers introduced me to drug trafficking. It started when my shop got burnt and I lost everything. We used to talk on the phone before she invited me to Lagos.
â€On several occasions we meet at an eatery. I initially refused to do it at first but she persuaded me that since I have been travelling, there will be no problem. They bought a return ticket and gave me â‚¬1,900 initial payment. My world is over.â€
Unlike the first two suspects that were going to France, Onyeze was apprehended while attempting to board an Air France flight to Paris but his final destination was Finland.
He had lived in Finland for nine years and used to import office equipment into the country for sale. According to Onyeze, 47, who is from Imo State, he suffered a big loss in 2008 and has not recovered from the financial crunch.
He says that he ingested drugs based on the influence from his friend in Europe, â€My phone number was given to somebody in Nigeria. Since I arrived from Finland last month we have been talking until I was finally given the drugs. I swallowed 60 pieces for â‚¬2,500. I am married with a child.â€
The last suspect, Ndigwe, may not be as innocent as his name suggests. The 47-year-old trader, who is based in Johannesburg, South Africa, was arrested during the screening of passengers on South African Airline
Resident in South Africa since 2001, Ndigwe is married to a South African lady and has three children.
â€I sell phone accessories in South Africa. I left the country in 2001 and did not know of the scanning machine. If only I knew about the security situation, I would not have smuggled the drugs.
â€They offered me $2,500 and I saw the deal as an opportunity to return to the country and see my mother and other relatives. I never knew it would turn out to be like this,â€ the Anambra State trader states.
Despite the daily arrests of drug traffickers at the nationâ€˜s airports, the wave of drug trafficking appears to be unabated.
The desperate traffickers have turned their bodies into drug cargoes. Apart from the intermittent concealment of drugs in travel bags, hair styles, garments, stethoscopes, compact discs, ingestion of drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine has become traffickersâ€˜ preferred choices for hiding their deadly wares from law enforcement officers.
Recently, a couple travelling with their six-year-old twins were allegedly arrested following the discovery of cocaine on the mother as well as the innocent twins.
In April 2010 alone, 20 drug traffickers were arrested at the MMIA. According to the NDLEA Airport Commander, Alhaji Hamza Umar, 52.845 kg of narcotic substances were seized in the same month.
He says, â€Two of the suspects are female, while 18 are male. The breakdown of the drugs shows that cocaine is the largest with 28.735kg, followed by cannabis 14.800kg; heroin is 8.310kg and methamphetamine 1kg.
â€Cannabis weighing 14.800kg and 10kg of cocaine were however abandoned at the airport by suspected traffickers in April.â€
Concerned by the numbers of arrest in April alone, the chairman of the anti-graft agency, Ahmadu Giade, says that the NDLEA will not relent in its battle against drugs.
Giade says, â€I will continue to warn that people should avoid this criminal act and build a good image for the country. Drug trafficking is condemnable and stakeholders should endeavour to work together for a drug-free country.â€
Clockwise: Onyeze Chukwudi, Alekusho, Mustafa Latifu and Ndigwe Chukwuma