In a significant victory against transnational drug trafficking organizations, operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have intercepted large quantities of ephedrine, skunk (a potent form of marijuana), and nitrous oxide (commonly known as laughing gas) at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos, Nigeria.
The operation, conducted on Friday, August 25th, led to the arrest of Suleiman Babatunde Oba, a notorious drug trafficker with ties to a cartel distributing various illicit substances across multiple countries, including Nigeria, Brazil, Ghana, South Africa, Mozambique, and Europe. Oba was apprehended while attempting to board a Rwanda Air flight to South Africa, carrying two boxes filled with ephedrine hidden within semovita packs. Ephedrine is a precursor chemical used in the production of methamphetamine.
During interrogation, Oba revealed the involvement of Hakeem Babatunde Salami, who resides in both Lagos and South Africa, as the head of the drug ring. A subsequent raid on Salami’s residence in Lagos led to the recovery of crucial evidence, including luxury vehicles and documents related to the drug operation.
This operation follows a previous seizure of 25.60kg of ephedrine at the Lagos airport in August 2021, linked to the same cartel. An airport official, Godwin Shedrack, has also been implicated in the syndicate and is under investigation.
In a separate operation, NDLEA operatives thwarted an attempt to export 10.40kg of skunk concealed with scent leaves and pepper to Nairobi, Kenya. A suspect named Ekechukwu Sixtus Ndubuisi was arrested in connection with this seizure.
Additionally, NDLEA operatives prevented the export of 180 cannisters of laughing gas to South Africa, apprehending a suspect, Oyekola Gbenga Akeem, who was charging a fee of Two Million Naira (N2,000,000) for the shipment.
On August 25th, the NDLEA arrested drug kingpin Ngene Emmanuel Onyedikachi, who had recruited a fake couple, Ilonzeh Kingsley Onyebuchi and Ilonzeh Roseline Nonyelum, caught with substantial amounts of cocaine in their possession at the Lagos airport earlier in August. Onyedikachi was apprehended after an intensive 25-day surveillance operation.
During questioning, Onyedikachi admitted that he had met the two couriers through another member of his syndicate at a church in Cele area, Lagos. He revealed that the drugs originated from Guinea Conakry and shared details of his international movements, including returning to Nigeria in 2022 after using an Ivory Coast International passport.
In another operation, NDLEA operatives in Lagos arrested Peter Iwebema with 864.5kg of cannabis sativa in Ikorodu, while at Tincan Port Command, 27 parcels of Colorado weighing 13.5kg were seized from a container arriving from Canada. These synthetic substances were hidden in a Ford Edge SUV within a shipment of used vehicles and motor parts.
In Sokoto, NDLEA operatives arrested two suspects with 330kg of skunk, and in Ibadan, Oyo state, a suspect was nabbed with 34.5kg of skunk and 9.5 grams of methamphetamine.
Throughout the operation, NDLEA Commands across states and the Federal Capital Territory intensified the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) advocacy campaigns, targeting schools, places of worship, communities, and more.
Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd), Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, commended the dedication of NDLEA officers and urged them to remain steadfast in their efforts to combat drug supply and demand reduction activities.