Michael Olugbode in Abuja
Operatives of the National Drug Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in the latest clampdown on drug trafficking, have seized over 1.9 million tablets of Tramadol and Codeine imported into the country from Pakistan and United Kingdom through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
A statement by the spokesman of the NDLEA, Femi Babafemi, said of the total seizures, 40 cartons of Co-Codamol, a brand of paracetamol with Codeine, which is classified as opioid, were seized from a freight agent, Eraikhueme Ehis.
He noted that the seizure made on Thursday, March 10 translates to 349,800 tablets weighing 336 kilogrammes, adding that the consignment came from London, United Kingdom as a consolidated cargo through the SAHCO Import Shed of the airport.
He said the consolidated cargo was declared as personal effects but was discovered to contain some medicaments.
Babafemi also revealed that not less than 1,584,000 tablets of Tramadol were recovered on Tuesday, 15th March by NDLEA operatives in collaboration with Aviation Security (AVSEC) and Nigeria Customs Service personnel at the airport.
He said the seizure included 17 cartons of 250mg Tramadol branded as ‘Tamra’ weighing 669.70 kilogrammes and five cartons of 225mg Tramadol under the brand name ‘Royal’ with a gross weight of 217.15 kilogrammes.
He added that the psychotropic substance, which was imported into the country from Pakistan, was smuggled through the airport tarmac using one of the vehicles of the Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) and was intercepted at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Personnel Yard.
He said two suspects — Ofijeh Mova, a SAHCO driver and Nyam Alex, who is a security guard with the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) — have so far been arrested in connection with the seizure.
Babafemi said the previous day, Monday March 14, a total of 2,160 tablets of Co-codamol weighing 1.95 kilogrammes and 240 tablets of Tramadol were also intercepted in a consolidated cargo from the UK at the SAHCO import shed of the airport, adding that follow-up operations led to the arrest of the importer of the consignment, Omonijo Temidayo, the following day Tuesday March 15.
He said similarly, follow-up operations have also led to the arrest of Hajiya Mariam Saliu in Edo State on Monday, March 14 after investigations uncovered her as the brain behind the attempt to export 1.55 kilogrammes cannabis to Dubai through the Lagos airport on March 5.
He noted that the NDLEA operatives have arrested one of the kingpins behind the attempt to smuggle 11.93 kilogrammes of cocaine to Accra, Ghana through the Seme land border, Lagos.
He said the 50-year-old suspect, Oyewunmi Ahmed, was arrested on Tuesday, March 15 at Mile 2 area of Lagos after series of follow-up operation following the arrest of a driver, Osagie Anthony, with the 11.913 kilogrammes cocaine at Gbaji, Seme-Badagry expressway on January 23.
In Kwara, a drug dealer, Hope John, 30, was arrested on Saturday March 19 at Goodness area of Offa with different quantities of cannabis, methamphetamine, designer drug and cocaine.
Meanwhile, the Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen.Buba Marwa (rtd), has commended the officers and men of the MMIA, Kwara and Seme Border Commands of the agency for their commitment, dedication to duty and maintaining cordial working relationship with other stakeholders in their areas of responsibility.