Police, NDLEA silent as alleged fugitive cocaine trafficker returns to social media

NDLEA officials
NDLEA officials [Photo: nigeriapoliticsonline.com]

Two months after a social media strategist was outed as an alleged cocaine trafficker who absconded from trial in a federal court in Lagos, the security agencies are yet to act.

Olufunke Phillips, who worked as a digital manager for the Lagos State governor-elect, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was arrested and charged in 2007 for alleged possession of 3.14 kilogrammes of cocaine.

She was among 26 others who were arraigned before various judges for illegal possession of banned narcotics between 2007 and 2009.

After they were granted bail during the trial, they all absconded and were declared wanted by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

Last March, a Nigerian journalist, Ruona Meyer, exposed Ms Phillips (real names: Philip Esther Olufunke) as one of the fugitives charged with cocaine possession.

Ms Meyer, who holds dual Nigerian-German citizenship, was accusing Ms Phillips of intellectual property theft after they parted ways as business partners.

In the run-up to the governorship election in Lagos State, Ms Phillips, who has maintained an active social media presence for years, campaigned vigorously for Mr Sanwo-Olu. At the time, her social media handles described her as ‘Digital Strategist/Social & Political Commentator|Social/Digital Manager, Babajide Sanwo-Olu Campaign.’

But after she was exposed as a fugitive, she removed all traces of a connection with the governor-elect. And, afterwards, disappeared from social media.

She re-surfaced weeks later and continued her usual activities.

Bala Elkana, the Lagos State police spokesperson, did not respond to phone calls or text message enquiries since Tuesday.

But Jonah Achema, the NDLEA spokesperson, asked for a written request for information, addressed to the chairman, on why the agency had failed to act on Ms Phillips.

While responding to a Freedom of Information request by PREMIUM TIMES in April, the NDLEA admitted that Ms Phillips was among the suspects who were granted bail and subsequently absconded from their criminal trial.

The NDLEA added that although it had successfully re-arrested, prosecuted and convicted some of the fugitives, Ms Phillips was not among those “that have been tracked as at this date.”

The agency declined to provide further information, stating that the FOI Act “exempts the disclosure of information or records required for law enforcement and investigation activities.”

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