Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, have intercepted methamphetamine worth N14 billion.
The seized drug, weighing 45 kilogrammes, was found concealed inside foodstuff in a luggage meant for export to South Africa, the agency said in a statement Friday, December 9.
The discovery was made during the outward screening of a Kenyan Airways flight. A 48-year-old cook, Richard Ese, had been arrested in connection with the illegal shipment.
Methamphetamine (also known as meth, chalk, ice, crystal) is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It takes the form of a white, odourless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol.
Nigeria has so far discovered eleven of such clandestine laboratories where the drug is produced since 2011. Five were found in Lagos State, another five in Anambra State and one in Delta State.
Ahmadu Garba, the NDLEA commander at the Lagos airport, said the suspect is assisting NDLEA’s team of investigators and would be charged to court soon.
Mr. Ese, who hails from Delta State and had worked for a decade in Madrid, Spain, said he was given N1 million to smuggle the drugs to South Africa.
“I was told the bag contains African food but during search, NDLEA officers discovered methamphetamine in the luggage weighing 45kgs,” Mr. Ese said.
“I worked in Madrid for ten years as a Chef and I am married with four children. The man that gave me the job met me in a drinking club.”
In his reaction, Muhammad Abdallah, the Chairman of the NDLEA, described the seizure as a victory over drug barons.
Mr. Abdallah, a retired colonel, said the agency’s efforts in addressing the problem of methamphetamine production and trafficking must be complemented by stakeholders.
He also promised to arrest other members of the criminal group.
“I am very pleased with this seizure,” he said.
“It is a victory for Nigerians over drug barons but the Agency’s efforts in reducing the drug problem must be complemented by other stakeholders.
“Stiffer punishment must be meted out to those involved in methamphetamine production. On our part, the agency must continue to identify more clandestine laboratories and prosecute offenders. I want investigation to be very thorough and at the end of the day, more arrests shall be made. I want other members of the criminal gang arrested.”
The NDLEA boss noted that locally produced methamphetamine is in high demand in Asia and Europe thus making the criminal trade highly lucrative, adding that that it is only logical that such a drug should attract stiffer punishment to discourage its production and trafficking.
“Methamphetamine and similar drugs deserves stiffer punishment to check the proliferation of clandestine laboratories and cases of trafficking,” he said.
“Continued production exposes our youths to the risk of being recruited by drug barons to smuggle it out of the country. It is therefore worrisome that most seizures made are even destined to countries where drug trafficking is punishable by death.”
Source: Premium Times