The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, has seized a consignment of cocaine worth £3.8 million (N1.9 billion) at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The substance, weighing 9.150 kilogrammes, was concealed inside soles of shoes.
According to a statement by the agency on Sunday, the substance was discovered in a shipment of shoes during inward screening of passengers on a Turkish Airline flight from Sao Paulo, Brazil.
It was the agency’s last arrest of 2016 at the airport.
Muhammad Abdallah, Chief Executive of the NDLEA, said the huge profit derived from drug trafficking has made it a top priority for drug cartels.
“We must continue to take deliberate steps to intercept drugs and ultimately prevent the criminal enrichment of drug cartels,” said Mr. Abdallah, a retired colonel.
“Illicit drug proceeds negatively affect economic development, could be used to corrupt government officials and terrorism funding thereby subjecting mankind to widespread destruction.”
“There was an arrest at the weekend of a 34 year old suspect, Okolo Emenike Kingsley, who hails from Ezeagu, Enugu State,” Hamisu Lawan, NDLEA commander at the Abuja airport, said.
“The motorcycle parts dealer said that he was offered the sum of one million naira to smuggle the drugs to Nigeria. Investigation is ongoing and the suspect is cooperating with our team of undercover officers.”
Mr. Okolo told NDLEA investigators that he travelled to Brazil in search of employment after recession hit his business in Nigeria.
“I am a motorcycle parts dealer, married with a child,” the suspect said.
“Things became worse for me in Brazil because I had no money to sustain myself while my work permit was being processed. I was equally confronted with the fear of deportation. This made me to be desperate in my search for quick wealth.
“In the process, I met my childhood friend who offered me one million naira to traffic cocaine to Nigeria. He also paid for my ticket and gave me three bags of shoes containing the cocaine. On arrival at the Abuja airport, the cocaine was detected and I was arrested. I had wanted to invest the one million naira in business in Nigeria,” Mr. Okolo said.
Mr. Abdallah commended the arresting officers describing the seizure as one of the benefits of training.
“The seizure is a validation of enhanced capacity of officers due to series of training programmes carried out by the Agency.
“The training covering investigation, raid operations as well as prosecution was conducted with the assistance of the United States government, European Union (EU) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). This is just a tip of the iceberg because as the benefits of these training begin to manifest, more drugs shall be detected and cartels dislodged in the days ahead.”
The NDLEA boss said the suspect would soon be charged to court.