A consignment of cocaine weighing 9.150 kilogrammes and worth N1.9bn, was over the weekend intercepted at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
The substance was said to have been concealed inside soles of shoes and discovered during inward screening of passengers on a Turkish Airline flight from Sao Paulo, Brazil.
In a statement, Lt. Col. Muhammad Abdullahi (retd), Chief Executive of the NDLEA, said the huge profit derived from drug trafficking has made it a top priority for drug cartels.
“We must continue to take deliberate steps to intercept drugs and ultimately prevent the criminal enrichment of drug cartels.
“Illicit drug proceeds negatively affect economic development, could be used to corrupt government officials and terrorism funding thereby subjecting mankind to widespread destruction.
“There was an arrest at the weekend of a 34 year old suspect, Okolo Emenike Kingsley, who hails from Ezeagu, Enugu State,” Hamisu Lawan, NDLEA commander at the Abuja Airport, quoted Abdullahi as saying.
“The motorcycle parts dealer said that he was offered the sum of N1m to smuggle the drugs to Nigeria. Investigation is ongoing and the suspect is cooperating with our team of undercover officers.”
The accused said that he travelled to Brazil after his business collapsed in Nigeria.
“I am a motorcycle parts dealer, married with a child.
“Things became worse for me in Brazil because I had no money to sustain myself while my work permit was being processed. I was equally confronted with the fear of deportation. This made me to be desperate in my search for quick wealth.
“In the process, I met my childhood friend who offered me one million naira to traffic cocaine to Nigeria. He also paid for my ticket and gave me three bags of shoes containing the cocaine. On arrival at the Abuja airport, the cocaine was detected and I was arrested. I had wanted to invest the one million naira in business in Nigeria,” Okolo said.
Abdallah commended the arresting officers describing the seizure as one of the benefits of training.
“The seizure is a validation of enhanced capacity of officers due to series of training programmes carried out by the Agency.
“The training covering investigation, raid operations as well as prosecution was conducted with the assistance of the United States government, European Union (EU) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). This is just a tip of the iceberg because as the benefits of these training begin to manifest, more drugs shall be detected and cartels dislodged in the days ahead,” Abdullahi said.
The suspect would soon be charged to court, according to NDLEA.