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rhalperi at smu.edu
Mon Oct 24 22:27:38 CDT 2011
Drug smuggling: Young traffickers defy death penalty
At home and abroad, Nigerians are regularly arrested for drug peddling. A
recent report by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) shows that
drug traffickers are getting more daring by smuggling drugs to countries with
capital punishment for the crime. Over 200 suspects have been arrested in one
year. And with an NDLEA slowed down by challenges, such as shortage of
operational vehicles, inadequate funding and absence others, the battle becomes
more difficult, writes OLUKOREDE YISHAU
In far away Hyderabad, India, two Nigerian drug peddlers were arrested on
Sunday. Eight grammes of cocaine were recovered from them. The two suspects;
Sakiru Akinsalo and Okechukwu Ohazurike, were arrested near the main gate of
Durgam Cheruvu at Jubilee Hills, where the police laid a trap for them.
Akinsalo, 53, hails from Lagos. 30-year-old Ohazurike is from Owerri, the Imo
State in Nigeria.
Hyderabad’s West Zone Deputy Commissioner of Police Stephen Ravindra said:
“Sakiru supplies spare parts to Nigeria and is a regular consumer of cocaine
and buys the banned substance from Jackson, who hails from Uganda. Sakiru used
to supply drugs to consumers in the city and customers of Ohazurike for which
the latter was paid commission. We are yet to get their passports and other
documents to ascertain whether they are staying here legally.’’
India is not the only Asian country where Nigerians engage in the business of
hard drugs. Malaysia, with a death sentence on drug trafficking, is a major
market for Nigerian peddlers and barons.
Reports indicate that other countries that also have severe penalties for drug
trafficking also attract peddlers from Nigeria.
In the last one month, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has
arrested about 10 peddlers who were headed for Malaysia and other countries
known for their unfriendliness to drug barons and peddlers.
Last month, 4 Nigerians tafficking drugs to Malaysia escaped death when they
were apprehended at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
They would have faced the death penalty if they had been caught in Malaysia. A
total of 5.715kg of suspected substance that tested positive to Methamphetamine
was seized from the suspects.
1 of them, Emmanuel Innocent, wanted to travel with a Gambian passport, with
the name Gaye Jerry. He was to board an Ethiopian Airways flight, with 600
grammes of Methamphetamine in the metal handle of his luggage. Another suspect,
Innocent Chukwuemeka Udeh , 36, hid 2 kilogrammes of the same drug in a false
compartment of his bag and was caught during the screening of Qatar Airways
26-year-old Olisah Kelvin Chukwuka was caught during the screening of
passengers on an Egypt Air flight. He ingested 1.300kg. The 4th suspect,
Mgbeajuo Alex Chigozie, 31, who attempted to board an Emirate Airline,
swallowed 1.815kg of methamphetamine.
The 4 suspects were heading for Malaysia where the punishment for drug
trafficking is death.
Udeh said: “I got involved in drug trafficking because I need money. I am a
student studying English language in Malaysia. After my primary school at
Central School, Nnobi, I was admitted at Madonna Commercial School at Nnobi but
I stopped in class 2 due to lack of fund. I also worked as a commercial
motorcyclist and taxi driver in Abia State before I travelled to Malaysia in
search of greener pastures. I regret my involvement.”
On October 11, two Nigerians were arrested at the MMIA with hard drugs. The
suspects are: Oliver Nnodi and Amoo Durowoju.
Nnodi, despite the possibility of death staring him in the face, was about to
board an Emirate flight to Malaysia when he was arrested. Durowoju was
travelling to Dublin when the bubble burst. Nnodi has since excreted 75 wraps
of methamphetamine. Durowoju has excreted 60 wraps of cocaine.
A day after, a popular Nollywood comedian, Babatunde Omidina, aka Baba Suwe,
was arrested after the scanning machine allegedly showed he had drugs in his
Last Friday, Justice Okechukwu Okeke of the Federal High Court, Lagos, acceded
to a request by the NDLEA to further detain him for 15 more days.
NDLEA, in an ex-parte application filed by its lawyer, Theresa Asuquo, which
was supported by a 29-paragraph affidavit deposed to by an NDLEA intelligence
officer, Femi Johnson Osifuye, and a CT scan result issued by a consultant
radiologist with the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Dr
Subhash Vijayvargiya, argued that the actor has large amounts of narcotic drugs
in his body.
He was arrested on October 12 while attempting to board an Air France plane to
Paris when the scanning machine at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport
indicated that he had ingested substances suspected to be narcotics.
Osifuye said the actor has refused to eat regularly claiming that he eats once
in 3 days, thus stalling the process of digesting the suspected drugs. He said
the CT scan confirmed large amounts of drugs in his body, arguing that the
agency needed more time to get him to excrete the drugs.
Osifuye added that it was in the interest of the suspect to excrete the
ingested substances to prevent them from bursting in his abdomen and leading to
In the early hours of Thursday, September 15, three suspected drug traffickers,
arrested at the MMIA Lagos, excreted drugs from their system. One of the
suspects was also, surprisingly, on his way to Malaysia, while 2 were going to
They are: Udeh Donatus Chukwuka, Ukeachu Oliver Aham and Onyeze Izunna
Lawrence. Chukwuka, 35, ingested 35 wraps of cocaine weighing 815 grammes and
26 wraps of heroin weighing 560 grammes. Aham, 45, ingested 70 wraps of cocaine
weighing 1.540kg while Lawrence, 31, ingested 100 wraps of methamphetamine
A 56-year-old man, Chiafor Emmanuel Ndubuisi, was arrested, early last month,
after testing positive to drug ingestion. Ndubuisi, who sold five plots of his
family land in exchange for illicit drugs, is counting his losses. He ingested
97 wraps of substances that tested positive to cocaine and was arrested during
the screening of British Airways passengers to London.
Also in September, the NDLEA nabbed a suspected trafficker, Anthony Judd Thomas
(carrying a British passport), who claims to have carried drugs because he was
In August, an automobile importer was nabbed by NDLEA for alleged exportation
of narcotics. The suspect, Ofodili Ifeanyichukwu Victor, 47, said he invested 5
million naira on the illicit drug business. He was expecting to make N25
million to increase his capital base. Victor tested positive to drug ingestion
at the MMIA. He was apprehended during the screening of passengers on British
Airways flight to London Heathrow Airport. On Friday, August 19, he excreted 70
capsules of powdery substances, which tested positive to cocaine, weighing
The enormity of the drug challenge makes more sense given the revelation by the
NDLEA that it has seized drugs worth N6.1 billion ($4.06 million) from 291
suspected drug traffickers at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in
Lagos between January, last year and this September. The NDLEA said the drugs
weighed a total of 612.68 kilogrammes, which is the weight of 7 men of at least
The agency said it was surprised that drug traffickers were getting more daring
by smuggling drugs to countries with capital punishment for such a crime.
NDLEA’s Lagos Airport Commander Alhaji Hamza Umar said: “In 2010, the command
arrested 200 drug suspects, including 172 males and 28 females, with 399.431kg
of drugs consisting of 237.5kg of cocaine, 44.907kg of heroin, 42.050kg of
cannabis, 74.755kg of methamphetamine/amphetamine and 0.240 grammes of other
“Similarly, between January and September, a total of 91 drug suspects,
comprising 81 males and 10 females, were apprehended for trafficking 213.249kg
of narcotics, comprising 79.696kg cocaine, 21.705kg heroin, 57.705kg cannabis,
44.723kg methamphetamine/amphetamine and 9.400kg of other psychotropic
He said: “The pattern of drug seizures here at the airport since inception is
that little quantity of drugs is smuggled at a time unlike at the seaports
where our entire annual seizure can be made in one fell swoop. The 14,200kg of
cocaine made at the Tin Can Port in 2006, the 450.400kg of cocaine also
intercepted at the Lagos sea port and others are pointers to the fact that
while we do our best here at the airport, our colleagues at the seaports will
also continue with the good work aimed at dismantling drug barons.”
The report added: “The little quantities of narcotics smuggled by suspects at
the airport could empower drug cartels because eventually when added together
they become substantial.
“Some of the success strategies of the command include good working relations
with international partners, such as the United States, Britain, Germany,
France, South Africa and many others. The security agencies, airline operators
and airport staff have also contributed to the successful operations of the
Umar said most of the suspects ingested the hard drugs. “Some traffickers hide
the drugs in their luggage using various ways. The drugs could be hidden in the
metal handles of the bag, in false bottom or side compartments. Other items
used include clothes, garden shears, hand trowels, car shock absolvers, bronze
castings, bags and foodstuffs, to mention a few. Still we are able to uncover
“Female traffickers have used their hair and even inserted drugs into their
private parts. The age of the suspects also cuts across the young, middle age
and the aged.”
Umar said the tricks of drug barons appeared endless. The Agency recently
discovered clothes soaked in cocaine from a woman who arrived from Brazil.
He said: “The Agency is also worried about the level of desperation of some
drug traffickers. We find it worrisome that young traffickers smuggle drugs to
Malaysia and other countries where drug trafficking attracts capital
“Many have been prevented from such suicide missions and we keep apprehending
more people on these routes. Unfortunately, we have also recorded deaths from
drug ingestion. When there is a leakage in the wraps of ingested drugs, the
courier can barely last the next one hour. This is the reality of the obnoxious
trade in narcotics.”
With the Christmas season around the corner, NDLEA fears there will be more
incidence of drug trafficking. The agency‘s Chairman/Chief Executive, Ahmadu
Giade, has urged his men to adopt proactive measures. He spoke while parading a
suspect, Charles Chiagozie Oledibe, a 37-year-old, who was caught at the MMIA
travelling from Brazil with 5.850kg of cocaine concealed in his luggage.
Giade said: “We are prepared to counter the plans of drug trafficking
syndicates this season. Our strategies are already in place at the airports,
sea ports and land borders to frustrate the inimical moves of drug barons. We
shall arrest drug barons, seize their drugs and prosecute them.”
But how far its challenges, such as shortage of operational vehicles,
inadequate funding and absence of other tools, allow it to go remains to be
(source: The Nation)
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