By Gbenga Ojo
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, have intercepted various quantities of ephedrine, skunk and nitrous oxide, popularly known as laughing gas in Lagos State.
It was learnt that the products were concealed in semovita packs and dry pepper being shipped to South Africa and Kenya through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Ikeja Lagos by members of Transnational Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO), some of who were promptly arrested, their mansions raided and their luxury vehicles seized.
Femi Babafemi, Director, Media & Advocacy NDLEA who made this known on Sunday, noted that through credible intelligence, NDLEA operatives on Friday 25th August intercepted a notorious drug trafficker, Suleiman Babatunde Oba who is a member of a cartel distributing Cocaine, Heroin, Methamphetamine and Ephedrine between Nigeria, Brazil, Ghana, South Africa, Mozambique, and Europe.
He said, “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.
“In his statement, Suleiman who holds a South African passport, married to a South African lady and has lived there for over 20 years, 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 28th August revealed that he 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.
“In August 2021, the Agency had seized 25.60kg ephedrine from a trafficker, Arua Emmanuel Onwuka at the Lagos airport, a seizure that 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.
“In the same vein, attempt by another syndicate to export 10.40kg skunk concealed with scent leaf and pepper, going to Nairobi, Kenya, was equally thwarted by NDLEA operatives attached to the NAHCO export shed of the airport on Saturday 26th August. A suspect, Ekechukwu Sixtus Ndubuisi, has already been arrested in connection with the seizure.
“Another bid to export a consignment of 180 cannisters of laughing gas to South Africa by a freight agent, Oyekola Gbenga Akeem for a fee of Two Million Naira (N2, 000, 000) was also frustrated by operatives who seized the cargo and arrested the suspect.
“Meanwhile, NDLEA operatives on Friday 25th August succeeded in arresting a drug kingpin, Ngene Emmanuel Onyedikachi, who recruited the fake couple, Ilonzeh Kingsley Onyebuchi and Ilonzeh Roseline Nonyelum arrested for ingesting 1.822kg and 1.50kg of Cocaine respectively at the Lagos airport on 1st August while on their way to India. The kingpin was picked at his residence located at 28 Afolabi Brown Street, Akoka, Yaba, after an intensive surveillance that lasted 25 days.
“During his interview, Onyedikachi confessed that the two suspects: Ilonzeh Kingsley Onyebuchi and Ilonzeh Roseline Nonyelum were introduced to him by another member of his syndicate, who he claimed he met at Zion Church in Cele area of Lagos. He explained that the drug was sourced from Guinea Conakry.
“The suspect revealed that when he got information about the arrest of the fake couple, he threw away his old mobile phone along with the SIM cards to avoid being traced, adding that he became relaxed and refused to leave his house because the two couriers do not know his house since they have only met twice at different locations. He said he was living in India before he returned to Nigeria in 2022 after the Indian authorities discovered that he was using Ivory Coast International passport. A blue Acura Legend car was part of items recovered from his home during his arrest.
“While operatives of the Lagos state Command of the Agency on Monday 28th August, arrested a suspect, Peter Iwebema, at Ikorodu with 79 and a half bags of cannabis sativa, weighing 864.5kg, their counterparts 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.
“In Sokoto, operatives on Tuesday 29th August arrested two male suspects: Nafiu Arzika, 30, and Jamilu Aminu, 35, with 330kg skunk, while another suspect, Ismaila Razak, 38, was nabbed with 34.5kg of same substance and 9.5 grams of methamphetamine on Saturday 2nd September at Olodo area of Ibadan, the Oyo state capital.
“Across the states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, NDLEA Commands intensified the Agency’s War Against Drug Abuse, WADA, advocacy campaigns to schools, worship places, palaces and local communities among others. For instance, the sensitization lectures were conducted at Holy Trinity Gospel Church, Ogbomoso, and for Muslim faithful at Jammatul Nasirul Islam mosque, Ilorin; members of the Association of Hair Stylists in Ado Ekiti; leaders of road transport union in Abeokuta; traders at Kwata market, Awka; pregnant women at primary health care centre, Bonny; Dekara district palace, Babana community in Borgu LGA and at Noorul Huda Islamiyya school, Kafin Maiyaki.
“While commending the officers and men of the Agency across the Commands for their efforts in drug supply reduction and drug demand reduction activities, Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) charged them to remain steadfast,” the statement added.