A Nigerian resident of Pretoria, South Africa, Abiodun Israel Banjo, 45, has been arrested by officials of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA for possessing parcels of methamphetamine at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos.
Mitchell Ofoyeju, spokesman of the anti-narcotics agency, announced in a statement on Monday that the arrest took place during the outward screening of passengers on a South African Airline flight to South Africa.
The parcels of drugs tested positive for methamphetamine and weighed 3.435kgs with an estimated street value of N31 million in Nigeria.
Speaking on the arrest, NDLEA Commander at the Abuja Airport, Ahmadu Garba, described how the drug was discovered.
He explained that during a routine luggage check, NDLEA agents noticed that Mr. Banjo's two bags contained methamphetamine concealed under clothing and food items.
Mr. Garba said the suspect was immediately arrested while investigations were ongoing.
The suspect, however, denied knowledge of the drug in his bag, saying that a friend gave him the bag in South Africa.
“I work in Pretoria. My friend in South Africa called me saying that his brother would give me two bags containing foodstuff to take to him. He also promised to give me two thousand dollars. I opened the bags and checked thoroughly, but could not find anything criminal. That was how I accepted to take the bags," Mr. Banjo explained.
“I was surprised when the drug was detected under the bags. I feel very sad that my friend has implicated me.”
The suspect, a graduate of the Technical College of Ijebu-Ode, has been living in South Africa since 2012. He hails from Osun State.
NDLEA Chief Executive Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah has called on members of the public to be aware of tricks employed by drug trafficking cartels.
"Drug traffickers recruit mules by enticing them with money. They are very clever in concealing drugs, as drugs have been detected in bags, electronics, foodstuff and clothes among others. We strongly advise that all passengers should endeavor to pack their bags themselves and avoid taking bags for others," Mr. Abdallah stated.
The NDLEA boss added that ignorance was no excuse in drug trafficking and the suspect would be charged for unlawful exportation of narcotics.
"A person shall be deemed to have exported a narcotic drug or psychotropic substance under this NDLEA Act; if he brings to or deposits the narcotic drug or psychotropic substance concerned at any time at any customs area such as airports, customs port or any other customs point generally,” Mr. Abdallah explained.