By Stephen Ubanna
The drug cartel in Nigerian knew that they were in trouble the moment President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Buba Marwa , a Brigadier General ,rtd, and former Nigeria Ambassador, to South Africa, as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, last January.
They may have played into Marwa’s hand with the seizure of 26.840 Kg of cocain and heroin at the Murtala Muhammed International Airprt, Ikeja, Lagos, worth about N30 billion and an additional 40 parcels of cocain weighing 43.11Kg, valued at about N32 billion at the Lagos port of Tin-can Island on February 8, 2021. The Cocain and heroin which was unloaded at the Tincan Island port was allegedly smuggled into the lagos port on board MV.SPAR SCORPIO from the North American country of Brazil, described the woldove as a high risk .
The seizure of the large quantities of cocain and heroin from the MMIA and the Tincan Island port may have forced the NDLEA Chairman to mobilise his men to beam their searchlight atthe country’s International airports in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Lagos, PorttHarcourt, Enugu, and Kano as well as the Lagos ports of Apapa, Tincan Island, s Port Multi-services Terminal Limited, PTML, Kiri-Kirikiri Lighter Terminal , phases I & II.
The agency operatives were said to have also beamed their searchlight on the south east ports of PortHarcourt Area II, Onne, Rivers port, which Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, the Nigerian Ports Authority , NPA, Managing Director, had said , may soon be abandoned as it has outlived its lifespan and the Delta port of Warri. The NDLEA, officials were said to have equally beamed their searchlight on the port of Calabar, Cross river state to ensure that that the drug barons will not route their smuggled cocain and heroin into the country through these underutilized south east ports.
The agency focus at the seaports in its drug war in the last one and half months appeared to have paid off. Only recently, the Marwa boys at the Premier port of Apapa, intercepted a ”40” Container load of Tramadol, allegedly shipped into the country from the Asian ountry of India. The agency in its official Twitter handle had said that 554 cartons tramadol discovered in the Container of had 1,994,400, capsules of tramadol stuffed in them. The importer, according to an NDLEA source had falsely declared Consignment by the as Ceramic tiles , with hope that he could penetrate ranks of the Nigerian Customs service , NCS, personnel and other security agencies Operatives including the NDLEA, officials , that would be involved in the examination of the cargo at the port to facilitate its prompt release. He got it wrong.
Samuel Gadzama, the Apapa port Area Commander of NDLEA, disclosed that the Container load of the tramadol which was shipped to Nigeria through the Premier port, Apapa, was discovered during a joint Inspection of the ship which had brought the Container load of tramadol during a Joint Examination by all the approved security agencies personnel. The NDLEA Operatives may have cited the cited the Container based on available information at its disposal before the Customs personnel could think of breaking the seal before all the other agencies operatives.
The value News learnt that the NDLEA , officials cited the Container loaded with the tramadol, they pleaded that it be set aside for proper Examination. The Apapa Command Examination officers and were said to obliged the NDLEA officials of their request. The Seal of the Container was broken and opened for all the security agencies to see. Some hired labourers in the port premises were invited to unload the cartons in the Container , numbering 554. The cartons were said to have ben opened one after the other and a total of 1, 994,400 Capsules of tramadol were found in them. Going by the Customs and Excise Management Act , Cap 2004, it is liable to outright seizure.
Indeed, the Apapa Customs Command seized it. Based on the inter-agency relationship, the hard drug was said to have been handed over to the NDLEA by the Customs Authorities for further Investigations. There are fears in both official and unofficial circles that nothing may come out of the on-going Investigations on the Apapa port Container load of tramadol imports. This is because there had been similar incidents in the past where the Customs Authorities had handed over intercepted Tramadol drugs to the NDLEA, for further Investigations but that was how far the matter ended.
Given, Marwa’s antecedents, Nigerians may not have any cause to worry about the outcome of the ongoing Investigations on the recent hundreds of cartons of tramadol imports at Apapa port as the suspects found guilty would surely be exposed and dragged to Court as a deterrence to other hard drug importers and their foreign Collaborators.
The rumour making the rounds was that the tramadol importer had shipped two Container loads of tramadol to Nigeria though the Apapa seaport but one of the Containers was discovered at the port of Nairobi, Kenya, and subsequently seized.
Many believe that if the Addisa Ababa, Ethiopian airport Authorities had intercepted the 26.840 Kg, cocain/Heroin loaded in an Ethiopian Airline from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to, Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Nigeria, when it was discovered it would have sent a signal to drug syndicate that there is no hiding place for them in the African Continent.
But the Ethiopian Aviation Authorities had surprised Nigerians when they allowed the Flight loaded with the prohibited drug that had landed at its airport for refueling and normal routine Checks to depart to Nigeria with the drugs which all the necessary information had been provided to the NDLEA officials at the MMIA, on how to locate the agent carrying the drug.
This may have informed why the NDLEA operatives at the various International airports in the country, particular, the MMIA, have beamed their searchlight on all Ethiopia Commercial aircrafts flying into Nigeria from different parts of the world, particular, Brazil. The Ethiopian Airline Authorities may have to redeem its image before the Marwa led NDLEA, to avoid losing most of its Nigerian International Passengers to other International airlines, particular, the British Airways and Emirates airlines.