The war against drug trafficking cartels is getting tougher as operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) last weekend busted two major attempts by suspected drug syndicates to import 4kg of high grade cocaine from Brazil and 5.1kg of heroin from Pakistan. The spectacular seizures with an estimated street value of over 100 million naira were recorded in two separate operations at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos.
Three prime suspects arrested in connection with the illegal importation are currently being quizzed by anti-narcotic officials. A total of 9.800kg of narcotics was intercepted; 4kg of cocaine was hidden inside bed sheets and engine pistons; 700grammes of cocaine was ingested while 5.1kg of heroin was concealed in a false layer of a luggage.
Confirming the arrests and seizures, the NDLEA commander at the MMIA, Hamza Umar said that the recent crackdown occurred last weekend when preparation for the Christmas celebration was at its peak. “Three prime suspects by name Akakpo Kossi James, 49, and Nwanchukwu Chukwuma Ferdinard, 42, who were on board Emirate flight from Brazil as well as Okonkwo John Oforma, 38, who had an emergency travel certificate on his way from Pakistan on board Qatar Airline flight are currently undergoing interrogation in connection with the drug seizures” Hamza stated.
Akakpo smuggled 4kg of cocaine from Brazil in bed sheets and engine pistons, Nwanchukwu Chukwuma Ferdinard ingested 58 wraps of cocaine weighing 700grammes also from Brazil while Okonkwo imported 5.1kg heroin from Pakistan hidden in a luggage. The suspects have made very useful statements that are fast tracking investigation.
Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA Ahmadu Giade described the seizures as another victory in the country’s anti-narcotics crusade. “This is another victory in the battle to eliminate illicit drugs from our society. We are poised to tackle drug syndicates notwithstanding their shrewd modes of drug concealment” Giade promised.
Akakpo Kossi James a 49 year old bachelor told investigators that he got involved in drug trafficking in order to be married and live a settled life. “I work as an event planner in Brazil since 2008. I dropped out of secondary school in class 3. As a result of unemployment I travelled to Senegal in 1999. When I could not get any good job, I left Senegal to Cape Verde and later to Brazil in 2008. In all these countries, I have been living from hand to mouth. A Brazilian introduced me into the drug business. I used to meet with him at shopping mall and recreational centres. He convinced me into smuggling the drug with a 10,000 dollars offer. I saw it as an opportunity to marry and settle down” Akakpo stated. He hails from Isukwator, Abia State.
Okonkwo John Oforma, 38 years is believed to be working with a Pakistani based drug cell. The suspect who lives at Surulere Street, Ijaniki, Lagos used to sell dry fish before he was recruited to smuggle drugs from Pakistan. Okonkwo who travelled to Pakistan on September 14, 2011 through Dubai claimed that he lost his international passport at Islamabad. He arrive Nigeria a day to Christmas with an emergency travel certificate NHCI 197/2011 and Qatar ticket number 2145050251276.
He reportedly took off from Karachi Airport, Pakistan to Nigeria enroute Doha. According to Okonkwo, “I am sick and need to undergo surgery. I have no money for the treatment and they promised to settle all my hospital bills and also give me money for business. The man is so nice to me. They usually import shirts and sometimes I collect some of the clothes to sell and have my commission. That was how I met them. The man took me as his son and promised to do anything for me. They assisted me with my travel documents and sponsored my trip to Pakistan. When I lost my passport at Islamabad, he was the one that processed the emergency travel certificate for me. He is an elderly man, I do not know his name but we call him Alhaji. He gave me the bag to take to Nigeria. Unfortunately, I was arrested and 5.1kg heroin was found in the bag”. He hails from Umueze in Anambra State.
Nwanchukwu Chukwuma Ferdinard who sells furniture in Lagos travelled to Brazil in 2009. His wife and 3 children reside in Lagos. During interrogation Nwanchukwu said that his love for his family made him to smuggle drugs. “I work in a Cyber Café in Brazil and my salary can barely meet my basic needs. In the process of complaining to friends I met a man who promised to help me only if I will smuggle drugs. Eventually, I agreed to carry the drug. They bought my return ticket and promised to pay me 2,500 dollars. My intention was to use the opportunity to visit my family and pay school fees of my children. I excreted 58 wraps of cocaine weighing 700grammes” he explained. The suspects will soon be charged to court.