Officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), on Friday, arrested four drug couriers at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, while attempting to take the drugs to China, Indonesia and Qatar. Drug trafficking is punishable by death in the three countries.
A statement by the spokesman of the anti-narcotics agency, Mr. Mitchell Ofoyeju, gave the names of the suspects as Aniebue Peter Nnamma, 50; Sokpe Zubbye, alias Nzube Chukwudi), 37; Ugwuezumba Hyacinth Arinze, 38; and Obinna James Obi, 30.
Mr. Ofoyeju said Nnamma, who sells clothes at Aswani Market in Lagos, inserted 11 wraps of cocaine weighing 460 grammes into his anus, while Zubbye, a freight forwarder from Anambra State with a Ghanaian passport, ingested 955 grammes of cocaine.
Both suspects, Mr. Ofoyeju added, were on their way to China.
The NDLEA spokesman also said Arinze, who sells musical instruments at Alaba International Market in Lagos, was caught with ingested wraps of methamphetamine, weighing 570 grammes and 1.560kg of the drug packed in his luggage while on his way to Indonesia.
The other suspect, an aluminium fabricator in Umuahia, Abia State, who was flying to Doha, Qatar, was caught with 5.2kg of cannabis. Mr. Ofoyeju stated that all four suspects are under investigation and will be charged to court soon.
He explained that if the suspects had been arrested in the countries they attempted to courier the drugs to, they would have been executed.
Commenting on the arrests, the NDLEA Commander at the MMIA, Mr. Ahmadu Garba, said that the agency will continue to ensure that drug couriers are arrested at the country's airports and other points through which they might want to carry out their illicit trade.
Also, the Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Colonel Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah (retd.), expressed worry over the spate of execution of Nigerians abroad for drug trafficking offences and the number of those on death row.
Colonel Abdallah urged traffickers to see beyond the transient monetary gains of narcotic trafficking and appreciate the fact that they are actually endorsing their own death warrant.
He described the action of the suspects as unfortunate and shameful, saying that drug trafficking is a criminal offence that has caused the death of many young people.
“It is sad that the execution of those caught with drugs in these countries has not deterred them. Many have died prematurely while others are daily counting down to their execution. This development has left their family members and friends in pains,” he said.
In his confessional statement, Zubbye said he was promised N1 million by sponsors to smuggle the drug abroad.
"I work in China as a freight forwarder and I am married with two children. Due to the recession, I am having difficulty in settling my bills and I was lured into drug trafficking while seeking assistance. They promised me N1 million. Since I live in China, I felt it would be easy for me to go through security checks, but unfortunately, I was caught,” he said.
Nnamma also blamed his involvement in the crime on financial hardship.
"It was financial hardship that made me smuggle the drug. I was afraid of swallowing the drug, so I inserted eleven wraps of cocaine weighing 460 grammes into my anus. I sell clothes at Aswani Market, but poor patronage and family problems have turned me into a pauper. I regret everything" he lamented.
Arinze, confessed that he was given the drug along Badagry Expressway and was promised $3,000 by his sponsors.
Obi also admitted to investigators that he made a mistake getting involved in drug trafficking. He explained that the bag he was caught with was given to him by a friend for delivery in Doha, but during a search, NDLEA discovered cannabis inside it.