The acting chairman/chief executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mrs. Roli Bode-George has assured that the Agency will continue to tighten the noose on drug cartels as narcotic officers arrested three suspected members of a drug syndicate with 18.2kgs of drugs valued at 163 million naira. The suspects were arrested at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) Abuja. They include a South African Sipho Mitshali, 31, found in possession of 4kg of Ephedrine and 8kg of Methamphetamine on his way to Johannesburg. Two Nigerians, Ifeagwu Osita and Obiabumuo Augustine Ikechukwu were also arrested for attempting to smuggle 4.7kg and 1.5kg of cocaine.
According to Roli, efforts are ongoing to consolidate on operational gains by the Agency. “The NDLEA is working hard towards making the country impenetrable to drug barons. We are also tightening the noose on drug trafficking syndicates to sustain the gains recorded in arrests of drug barons and seizure of drugs. There is a systematic plan of action to dislodge drug syndicates and ultimately eradicate illicit drugs from our society” she stated. The NDLEA boss also called for support from Nigerians against drug barons whom she described as enemies of the society.
NDLEA commander at the Abuja airport, Mr. Hamisu Lawan said that the three suspects are under investigation. “The South African, Sipho Mitshali was caught smuggling 4kg of Ephedrine and 8kg of methamphetamine to South Africa through Addis Ababa. Ifeagwu Osita imported 263 pellets of cocaine weighing 4.7kg from Dubai while Obiabumuo Augustine Ikechukwu was apprehended while attempting to export 1.5kg of cocaine to Switzerland through Frankfurt. The cases are being investigated” Hamisu stated.
The arrest of Sipho Mitshali who is a Zulu by tribe from Lehae, Lenasia a suburb of Johannesburg with Ephedrine and Methamphetamine to South Africa further validates the growing demand of Ephedrine and Methamphetamine in South Africa. The NDLEA recently nabbed a suspected drug baron, Tochukwu Harris Ubah with 310kgs of ephedrine and 266kg of methamphetamine valued at 4.6 billion naira hidden inside noodles, cereals and palm oil being smuggled to South Africa.
Ifeagwu Osita said that he smuggled drugs to save his sick daughter. “I am a business man living at Okota, Lagos. I am married with three children. My daughter had been sick and I have spent so much money on her bills yet there is no sign of improvement. This affected my business and forced me into drug trafficking. I was desperate to save my daughter from pain and death. The drug was given to me at Dubai airport but on getting to Nigeria, I was arrested” Ifeagwu stated.
Obiabumuo Augustine Ikechukwu who hails from Idemili South Local Government of Anambra State also said that he smuggled drugs for monetary rewards. According to him, “I was selling electrical appliances at Alaba market in Lagos before I travelled to Czech Republic in search of greener pastures. I needed money to settle my debts after my mother’s burial that was how I got involved in drug trafficking”.