The operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, have seized a drug haul worth N222m and arrested two clearing agents who allegedly disguised the drugs as artificial hair and foodstuffs.
According to a statement by NDLEA spokesperson, Mr. Mitchell Ofoyeju, the drugs – 24.7kg of methamphetamine disguised as artificial hair, 2.810kg of cocaine concealed in foodstuff and 27.250kg of diazepam – were about to be smuggled out of the country when they were discovered.
Commenting on the seizure, NDLEA airport commander, Ahmed Garba, said, “Preliminary investigation has shown that two of the suspects, Akpan Jacob and Nwaeyizia Sylvester (both clearing agents), conspired to export 24.7kg of methamphetamine. Another agent, Mike Odofia, had 50 packs each of diazepam tablets and injections while an exporter, Orji Otuu, was found in possession of 2.810kg of cocaine. We are leaving no stone unturned in improving the operational activities of the command.”
Jacob who is married with five children, said that he agreed to take the job because of financial difficulties.
“I am from Akwa Ibom State. I was given this job by another clearing agent, Sylvester. Ordinarily, I would not have accepted the job but I had no choice because of my family problems,” he said.
Sylvester too told officials that Akpan was the one that mounted pressure on him to do the job.
“I was never interested in this job but the pressure from Akpan was too much so I gave him the job. I also gave him N100,000 before my arrest,” he told officials in his statement.
Odofia said in his statement that he was called by a customer to pick up the bag and send it to Conakry, Guinea. “I collected it and went to the airport but during examination, some injections and tablets of diazepam were found inside the bag. This was how I was arrested. I have no idea that there were injections there,” Odofia stated.
Otuu on the other hand explained that exporting foodstuffs abroad was his business. 2.810kg of cocaine was found inside some foodstuff he was about to export to India.
“I normally export African foodstuff and spices to India. But this time round, I was tempted to hide cocaine inside the foodstuff. I had wanted to make about N10m profit but things did not go as planned,” Orji lamented.
The NDLEA has said that the suspects would soon be charged to court.
Chairman of the NDLEA, Muhammad Abdallah,said that many traffickers had been successfully prosecuted by the agency.
He said, “Clearing agents are liable under the law when narcotic drugs are traced to their shipments. They, therefore, have a responsibility to know their customers and produce them on request.
“It is pertinent for them to take necessary measures in preventing their consignment from being used in smuggling narcotic drugs. Investigations into the cases have commenced and more arrests are in the offing.”