Cocain: NDLEA Arrests S/African Airways Manager


Few days after the Chairman/Chief Executive of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, (NDLEA) Ahmadu Giade declared red alert on Nigeria-Brazil drug trafficking route, the Agency had uncovered a suspected drug ring at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

This followed the arrest of a South Africa Airways manager, Adebulehin Michael, 46, and a Nigeria Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) baggage officer, Olude Hakeem, 39, over attempt to smuggle a bag containing 500 grammes of cocaine unlawfully imported from Brazil out of the airport. The suspects are believed to have links with major drug traffickers in Brazil.

Giade described the suspects’ action as an act of national sabotage, adding that they will be prosecuted in line with the Agency’s Act to serve as a deterrent to others.

The NDLEA boss who decried the action of the suspects also warned that the Agency was prepared to counter any move by drug barons and major drug traffickers in order to enhance security at the nation’s airports.

“We are delighted with the discovery and subsequent arrests of the suspects. It is disappointing that people who should ordinarily assist the Agency are out rightly working against us. This is a calculated attempt to undermine the operations of the Agency and it will be vehemently resisted. We shall remain vigilant so as to counter such inimical activities,” Giade stressed. He also expressed optimism that more arrests would be made.

According to the NDLEA Airport Commander, Alhaji Hamza Umar, operatives of the Agency on October 31, 2010 arrested one Jinadu Babatunde Ganiyu, 37, with 1.500kg of cocaine. The drug was concealed in the metal handles of his luggage on his way from Brazil aboard a South Africa Airways flight. “Each metal handle of his bag contained 500 grammes of cocaine. He told us he checked-in 4 bags but on arrival in Lagos, only 3 bags were found. He then reported that one of his luggages was missing. We monitored it closely until we arrested the two suspects attempting to smuggle the bag out,” Hamza stated.

Adebulehin Michael has been working with South Africa Airways for eight years. He is currently the Passenger Service Baggage Manager. In his confessional statement to the NDLEA, Michael said: “The passenger reported a missing luggage on October 31. The bag arrived on November 9 and Mrs. Jinadu called me on Thursday November 18 that the husband reported a missing luggage from Brazil. She begged me to assist by sending the bag to her at Abuja that she had sent somebody to collect the bag but he was not given. I was only assisting her as the baggage manager because I have sent several bags like that in the past.” He is married with three children.

Olude Hakeem who works with NAHCO as a Baggage Officer was first intercepted at the arrival hall with the bag. He, however, told NDLEA operatives that he was sent to carry the bag by one Adebulehin Michael who is the South Africa Airways baggage manager. “I am only acting on the instructions of the baggage manager. He told me to carry the bag from the store. When NDLEA indicated interest in the bag, I immediately told them that it was Adebulehin that sent me,” Olude stated.

Both suspects in their confessional statements had admitted their roles in the failed attempt to smuggle the luggage out of the airport to Abuja. The case is being investigated.

Meanwhile, NDLEA boss said that if the airline is found wanting, the Agency will not hesitate to take necessary legal action. In his words, “we have commenced investigation into the case. If the airline is found wanting, we will not hesitate to sanction it and take necessary legal action,” Giade stated.

The first suspect, Jinadu Babatunde Ganiyu, 37, was arrested with 1.500kg of cocaine concealed in the handles of his travel bag. According to the suspect who has lived in Brazil for three years, drug trafficking was the only solution to make money for the yuletide.

“I work in a poultry farm in Brazil. I was home sick and needed to come to Nigeria. My wife and child live at Ikene, Ogun State. They told me there was drug in the bags and offered to pay for my return ticket and also give me half a million naira. That was how I was convinced because I need to settle my family for the end of year festive period,” the suspect stated.

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