Officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) posted to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos have intercepted methamphetamine worth N14 billion at the airport.

The NDLEA stated that the seized drug, which weighed 45kg, was found concealed inside foodstuff in a luggage meant for export to South Africa. The agency’s spokesman, Mitchell Ofoyeju, named the suspect as Richard Efetobore Ese, a 48-year old man from Delta State who for a decade had worked as a chef in Madrid, Spain.

The spokesman disclosed that NDLEA agents discovered the drug during the outward screening of a Kenyan Airways flight, adding that the chefwas immediately arrested in connection with the illegal shipment.

“Methamphetamine is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Also known as meth, chalk, ice, and crystal, among many other names, it takes the form of a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol,” said the spokesman of the anti-narcotics agency.

Mr. Ofoyeju added that, since 2011, NDLEA agents had discovered 11 clandestine laboratories where the drug was being produced. “Five were found in Lagos State, another five in Anambra State and one in Delta State,” said the spokesman.

Also commenting on the arrest of Mr. Ese, NDLEA Commander at the Lagos Airport, Ahmadu Garba, said the suspect would soon be charged to court. He disclosed that the suspect was assisting a team of NDLEA investigators assigned to the crime.

According to the agency, Mr. Ese had written a confessional statement in which he disclosed that his sponsors promised to give him the sum of N1 million to smuggle the drugs to South Africa, but denied the knowledge of the banned substance in the bag.

“I 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. I worked in Madrid for 10 years as a chef and I am married with four children. The man that gave me the job met me in a drinking club,” the suspect reportedly wrote.

Also, NDLEA’s Chief Executive, Colonel Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah (ret.), described the seizure as a victory over drug barons, but urged all stakeholders to complement the agency's efforts in addressing the problem of methamphetamine production and trafficking. 

Colonel Abdallah promised to arrest other members of the criminal group.

He however called for stiffer penalty for those arrested in trading with banned drugs.

“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,” said the NDLEA’s head.

He remarked that locally produced methamphetamine was in high demand in Asia and Europe thereby making the criminal trade highly lucrative. 

Colonel Abdallah said that it was only logical that such a drug should attract stiffer punishment to discourage its production and trafficking.“Methamphetamine and similar drugs deserve stiffer punishment to check the proliferation of clandestine laboratories and cases of trafficking. 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,” he stated.

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