The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has arrested 14 drug suspects at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos with 33.655kg of narcotic drugs.
The said the suspects adopted various methods of drug concealment to escape arrest as the year winds to an end but these tricks were unmasked by the agency.
NDLEA said eight of the suspects were caught trying to smuggle cocaine into the country from Brazil and Argentina, while six others were intercepted while taking drugs to Hong Kong, Dubai, Italy and Brazil.
According to the NDLEA commander at the Lagos Airport, Mr. Hamza Umar, four of the suspects were apprehended in one flight, Royal Air Maroc on their way from Brazil.
“Some of the seized drugs were dissolved in water and absorbed in two towels and a T-shirt,” he explained. “Others were industrially packed in can foods, body cream packs while some of the suspects ingested the drugs in disregard of the health implications. The estimated value of the seized drugs was about N300, 000,000.”
The suspects included Okafor Chijioke Franklin, 25, caught with 13.735kg cocaine in tin food; Okeke Uchenna Alloy Pascal, 29 caught with 3.425kg cocaine absorbed in towels; Akpobome Godwin Ujunwa, 32 found with 1.730kg of cocaine absorbed in T-shirt; Ani Monday, 37 found with 300 grammes of cocaine.
Others were Madububa Amaechi Joseph, 38 ingested 845 grammes of cocaine; Amuka Sunday, 26, ingested 1.505kg cocaine and Ijoganu Edache, 25, ingested 1.240kg of cocaine.
Other arrested also included Obiefuna Tochukwu Kenneth, 40, found with 500 grammes of cocaine; Ogbodu Williams, 48, caught with 1.650kg of cocaine, Nwakama Walter Chinonso, 32, caught with 1.060kg of cocaine, Egbueme Benedict McCarthy, 31, found with190kg of cocaine and Nwanchukwu Chimeremeze Leonard, 38, found with 975 grammes of heroin/cocaine.
There were also Adebayo Wasiu Abiodun, 30, caught with 5kg of cannabis and Oforegbu Godwin Ujunwa caught with 505 grammes of cocaine.
NDLEA said investigation revealed that most of the suspects engaged in drug trafficking to get money for the end of year celebrations.
Akpobome Godwin Greg was promised the sum of N2 million to smuggle 1.730kg of cocaine absorbed in a T-shirt from Argentina to Nigeria.
Okafor Chijioke Franklin was promised the sum of $10,000, while Nwakama Walter Chinonso would have been paid the sum of $5, 000 if he had not been caught.
The agency said 25-year old Okafor Chijioke Franklin had the largest quantity of drugs. He was found in possession of 13.735kg cocaine concealed inside tin foods on his way from Brazil.
According to Okafor, “I have no one to help me. I travelled to Brazil a year ago in search of job opportunities. I used to hawk toys in Brazil to sustain myself. A friend promised to pay for my ticket to Nigeria to spend the end of year festive season. He was the person that gave me the drugs packed inside tin foods”.
Egbueme Benedict McCarthy who was going to Hong Kong where drug trafficking attracts capital punishment, said his arrest was a divine intervention to save his life.
“I used to sell used amplifiers in Abuja. I ingested 55 wraps of cocaine weighing 1.190kg. It was my classmate in the secondary school who now lives in Tanzania that sent the drugs to me and assisted me with my travel documents and expenses. I had no idea of the punishment for drug traffickers in Hong Kong until after my arrest. God has rescued me from death and I will never smuggle drugs again in my life,” Egbueme stated.
Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade described the arrests and seizures as a good way to end the year.
In his words, “This is a good way to end the year. The agency shall continue to detect hidden drugs and prosecute offenders in line with the NDLEA Act.”
Giade added that the agency would also intensify its public awareness programmes to educate the public on the dangers of drug trafficking; stressing that the suspects arrested with drugs on their way to Hong Kong would have paid the ultimate price if not for the intervention of the agency.
The suspects will be charged to court soon, he said.