From Mitchell Ofoyeju

Statistics of drug arrests and seizures at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos in the past two years have shown that arrests increased by 16.22 percent while drug seizures decreased by 33.68kg. The Airport command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in 2014 apprehended 129 suspected drug traffickers comprising of 118 males and 11 females with 436.065kg of drugs seizures. In 2013, the Agency apprehended 93 drug suspects with 878.81kg of narcotics.

The breakdown of the 2014 scorecard indicates that cocaine has the largest quantity with 120.44kg. Methamphetamine is next with 108.645kg, cannabis sativa 107.855kg, heroin 51.01kg psychotropic substances 37.285kg and ephedrine 10.83kg. The estimated street value of the seized drugs in 2014 is 2.9 billion naira.
NDLEA commander at the Lagos airport, Mr. Hamza Umar said that 117 drug suspects were apprehended on eighteen (18) Airlines. “More arrest of drug suspects was made on Ethiopian airlines, Emirates, Etihad, South African and Qatar Airways. A total of 44 suspects were apprehended trying to import narcotics into the country. South Africa, China and United Arab Emirates top the list of preferred destinations by suspects. The command received 229 persons who were deported on drug related charges” Hamza stated.

Out of the 229 drug deportees, 39 came from Italy, 37 from United States of America, 36 from Spain, 31 from Norway and 22 from Thailand. Others are Saudi Arabia 14, Switzerland 13, France 7, United Arab Emirates 5, Greece 4 while Brazil and Sweden deported 3 persons each. Australia, India and South Africa deported 2 persons each while Cambodia, China, Cyprus, Indonesia, Ireland, Portugal, Turkey Uganda and United Kingdom deported 1 person each.

Twenty-one (21) arrests were made on Ethiopian Airlines, 17 on Emirates, 12 on Etihad Airways, 11 on South African Airways, 10 on Qatar Airways and 7 on Turkish Air. Air France and Arik Air had 2 arrests each; Kenyan Airways and Royal Air Maroc recorded 5 each while Alitalia and Rwand Air had 4 arrests each. Egypt Airline had 3 arrests, Cargolux 2 while Africa World Airline, Iberia, KLM and Lufthansa recorded 1 arrest each.

Drug traffickers adopted different modes of drug concealment at the Lagos airport in 2014. Those that ingested narcotics were 29 while 88 traffickers hid drugs in their luggage. 4 of the traffickers were caught in connection with anal ingestion, 1 female suspect inserted drug in her vagina and 1 other packed the drug on his body. The MMIA command also made the following financial seizures. Twenty-four thousand, three hundred and sixty-two ($24, 362) dollars, twenty-three thousand four hundred and fifty (23,450) Euros, ten thousand (10,000) Pound Sterling, two hundred and forty thousand (N240,000) naira and one thousand, one hundred and forty (1,140) South African Rand. In addition, 107 ATM cards and two hundred fifty-two thousand, five hundred fake dollars were intercepted.

Speaking on the scorecard of the MMIA command in 2014, Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade said that the Agency shall work round the clock in addressing the problem of drug trafficking in the country. In his words, “the NDLEA shall continue to work very hard in making the country peaceful and drug-free. Efforts shall be intensified towards public enlightenment on the dangers of drug production, trafficking and abuse. Let me call on parents and guardians to educate their children on the benefits of living a drug-free lifestyle”.

Giade urged commanders to step up security checks at the airport and make it difficult for drug traffickers to penetrate all exit and entry points.



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