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Nigeria's Drug Law Enforcement Agency Arrests Three Suspected Cocaine Smugglers At Lagos Airport

Officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said their agents arrested three suspects who attempted to courier cocaine through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos. According to the NDLEA, one of the suspects had concealed cocaine inside the sole of his shoes while the other two reportedly tested positive for ingesting illicit drugs and subsequently excreted narcotics.

NDLEA spokesman, Mitchell Ofoyeju, informed reporters that the first suspect, Paul Ifechukwu Mbatugosi, 32 years old, was caught with 1.95 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside shoe soles. Mr. Ofoyeju disclosed that the consignment of shoes where the cocaine was concealed most likely originated from Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The NDLEA’s statement revealed that, before venturing into drug smuggling, Mr. Mbatugosi used to sell shoes in Enugu.

He added that another suspect, Ugochukwu Godson Adugba, 34, ingested 1.50 kilograms of cocaine on his way to Sydney, Australia. The third, Friday Dominic Onuoha, 42, ingested 850 grams of cocaine from Brazil. The NDLEA spokesman revealed that agents were still investigating all the suspects prior to charging them to court.

Speaking on the arrests, the NDLEA’s commander at the Lagos Airport, Ahmadu Garuba, confirmed that one of the suspects concealed the drugs inside shoe soles while the two ingested wraps of cocaine.

The NDLEA said Mr. Mbatugosi told interrogators that a friend he met in Brazil had introduced him to drug trafficking. According to the agency, the suspect stated, “After my graduation from Technical College in my home town, Ihiala, Anambra State in 2002, I went to Enugu where I was selling shoes. In 2015, I travelled to Brazil in search of better opportunities. However, while in Brazil, I worked as a barber to earn a living. After a year and three months in Brazil, I was disappointed because I had no savings. So I decided that I will get some money and be exporting shoes to Nigeria. It was in the process of looking for start-up capital that a friend introduced me into drug trafficking. My friend bought the shoes and prepared the drugs inside 13 pairs. This is my first time and I was caught.”

The second suspect, Mr. Adugba, claimed that he wanted to visit his wife in Sydney, Australia when he was caught with the drug. He too stated that a friend had introduced him to drug trafficking, adding that he initially turned down the proposal, but could not resist the offer of $15,000. The suspect hails from Abia State.

The third suspect, Mr. Onuoha, equally blamed his involvement on friends. The NDLEA said he confessed to traveling to Brazil in search of job opportunities, but meeting with frustration. “I was not satisfied working as an event planner in Brazil because the salary was just for subsistence living. After paying my bills, there was little or nothing left. That was how I was introduced into drug trafficking. My friend said that the only way to make quick money [was] through drug trafficking. He promised to pay me $15,000 and I agreed to swallow the drugs,” stated Onuoha who is from Abia State.

The NDLEA’s chief executive, Colonel Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah (ret.), said every arrest and seizure of drugs represented a victory over drug syndicates. He promised that the anti-narcotics agency would continue to sustain its vigilance at all entry and exit points.

“This will be complimented with public awareness programs on illegal drug production, trafficking and use aimed at reducing demand for drugs,” Abdallah stated.