Drug Concealed In Art Works


Officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have foiled plans by suspected drug traffickers to export 63.1kilogrammes of prohibited drugs concealed inside fufu and bronze cast out of the country.

The drug was intercepted at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos, South West Nigeria.

The drug consists of 36.550kg of methamphetamine hidden inside fufu meant for export to Japan while the remaining 26.550kg tested positive for amphetamine and was to be exported to South Africa, NDLEA said in a statement.

Two exporters, Uche Emmanuel, 39 and Akhabighimhe Bernard, 43, with associates in the destination countries of shipment have also been arrested in connection with the crime.

The agency said that the suspects have made confessional statements and are cooperating with investigating officers in both cases.

Uche Emmanuel whose business is the exportation of foodstuff said that an old friend introduced him into the illicit trade. “I met an old friend in Lagos. When I told him I was an exporter he was excited and said he has business for me and we exchanged telephone numbers. After some weeks he said that he wants me to export some chemicals for him.

“He also told me to conceal it because he had no NAFDAC permit. He equally suggested that I hid it inside fufu and promised to pay me 15,000 dollars. The drugs were given to me by him at Cele bus stop along Mile 2 expressway in Lagos”, Uche stated.

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He hails from Ohafia in Abia State and married with a child.

Akhabighimhe Bernard who is also an exporter and a manufacturer of bronze works had a similar story of how he got involved in the illicit trade. He concealed 26.550kg of amphetamine inside 18 pieces of bronze cast. “I was lured into the illicit trade by a friend. He told me that it will be easy for me as an exporter to send the goods to him. I know that I did it for the money but it is due to greed otherwise I am doing fine.”

The goods were intercepted on May 17, 2010 and he was arrested three days later while he was about to board a South Africa Airline flight to personally receive his goods in South Africa. He hails from Auchi in Edo State. He is  married and has six children. Chairman of NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade, has commended the officers for their sense of alertness and swift action that led to the apprehension of the suspects. Giade also hinted that assets and financial investigation had commenced into both cases.

“The interception and the speedy manner the follow-up operation was handled is commendable.”

The NDLEA Airport Commander, Alhaji Hamza Umar, said that Uche and Bernard are among 21 suspected drug traffickers arrested at the Airport Command in the month of May 2010.

The arrests consist of 19 male and 2 female while 91.335 kilogrammes of narcotics were seized.

He gave the breakdown as cocaine 23.250kg, heroin 4.985kg, methamphetamine 36.550kg and amphetamine 26.550kg.

—Simon Ateba

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