A commercial tricycle rider in Owerri and an Abuja-based trader have been apprehended by officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos in connection with the unlawful importation of 6.390kg of substances that tested positive for heroin.
The NDLEA said that one of the suspected traffickers was caught on arrival from Kigali, Rwanda while the other was arrested on arrival from Nairobi, Kenya.
The drugs, with an estimated street value of N575 million, were hidden in their luggage, according to the NDLEA.
A statement by the spokesman of NDLEA, Mr. Mitchell Ofoyeju, said the suspects were Egwin Cajetan Chinedu, 32, caught with 3.900kg of heroin, and King Sunday, 38, found in possession of 2.490kg of heroin.
“Egwin arrived from Kigali on a RwandAir flight while King Sunday imported the drug found on him from Nairobi during inward screening of passengers on an Ethiopian Airline flight. Both suspects are being investigated,” Mr. Ofoyeju said.
Also commenting on the arrests, NDLEA Commander at the Lagos airport, Mr. Ahmadu Garba, said that preliminary investigation indicated that drug trafficking cartels are gradually changing their mode of operation by turning to African countries in sourcing narcotic drugs like heroin.
Mr. Garba hinted that both suspects were also recruited for a fee to import the drugs into the country.
He alleged that Mr. Chinedu said that he needed money to repair his commercial tricycle while Mr. Sunday, who left his wife after four days of marriage on the guise of a business trip, said that he needed money for his honeymoon and business.
“The engine of my tricycle, which is my only source of livelihood, is bad. While I was looking for money to fix it, I was introduced to the man that promised to pay me the sum of N400,000 on the condition that I will bring his drug from Kigali,” Mr. Chinedu confessed.
“I accepted the offer because nobody was willing to help me. I dropped out of school in Junior Secondary class two. Apart from the repairs, my rent is due and my landlord had been asking for his money.”
Mr. Sunday, who decried his involvement in drug trafficking, confessed that he erroneously took the decision to smuggle drugs.
“I erroneously took the decision to smuggle drugs barely four days after my marriage. I was in need of money for my honeymoon and also for my business, but I should not have involved myself in drug trafficking.
“My thinking was that I could smuggle the drugs from Nairobi in two days without my wife knowing that I travelled out of the country. All my life, I have been upright in my transactions but this is a huge mistake and I regret my action,” he stated.
The Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Col. Muhammad Abdallah (retd), expressed satisfaction with the arrest, stressing that drug traffickers are now turning to African countries to smuggle heroin that is produced in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Thailand and other far away countries.
“The agency successfully foiled their plan with the arrest and seizure of the drugs. Drug cartels thought it would be easy to smuggle the drugs into the country since heroin is not produced in Africa, but I am happy that we are thinking far ahead of them. The Agency will continue to maintain this lead until they are completely dislodged," Mr. Abdallah stated.