NewsNDLEA Intercepts Largest Heroin Consignment At Lagos Airport

NDLEA Intercepts Largest Heroin Consignment At Lagos Airport


February 27, (THEWILL) – The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has intercepted the largest consignment of heroin at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos.

The agency also arrested members of an organised criminal organisation, which specialises in trafficking heroin across Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique, Europe and America during a 12-day well-coordinated operation leading to the seizure of the consignment.

Chairman, NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Marwa (Rtrd,) disclosed this at a press conference on Tuesday, at the agency’s office at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja Lagos.

Marwa said the operation started on February 10, 2024, when NDLEA operatives of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Command intercepted a suspicious package at the SAHCO Import Shed of the airport’s Cargo Terminal.

“The consignment was concealed in 15 cartons of 2300-watt metal cutting machines. Each carton was stocked with three blocks of high-grade heroin. In total, we recovered 45 blocks of the illicit substance with a total weight of 49.70kg,” he said.

According to him, the agency’s first arrest was a freight agent, Olowolagba Wasiu Babatunde, hired for clearing services by Mattpee Logistics, a company operated by one Mr. Kola resident in South Africa.

Marwa explained that this led to many arrests and confessions of members of the syndicate, discoveries of hard drugs and the arrest of the kingpin.

“This syndicate has a wide network in Nigeria because the consignments we seized were marked with several codenames, showing that they belonged to different members of this organised criminal group. Furthermore, in our follow-up operation, we uncovered from the suspect a long list of receivers of illicit drugs.

“In the end, we were able to identify the kingpin of the syndicate here in Nigeria and his name is Reginald Peter Chidiebere. Our investigations showed that he owns the Golden Platinum Hotel and Suite, located at 16 Reginald Peter Chidiebere Street, Hope Estate, Ago Palace,” he said.

The NDLEA boss said several days of surveillance on the hotel culminated in a raid operation on Monday, February 19, in which another drug mule, Igboanugo Chukwuebuka Thankgod, was found in possession of two parcels of 2.2kg heroin with codes similar to the ones found on the seized drug shipment, bringing the total seizure to 51.90 kilograms.

“He readily confessed that he was invited by Mr. Reginald Peter Chidiebere to the hotel on Sunday, February 18, 2024. He was lodged in one of the rooms and was later summoned by the receptionist to meet a guest, from whom Reginald Peter Chidiebere had informed him over the phone to receive a package. This sequence of action was confirmed by a review of the CCTV at the hotel,” he stated.

The NDLEA boss further explained that pre-emptive actions so far taken against members of the syndicate include freezing a total of 107 bank accounts associated with 14 members of the cartel as well as N119,582,928.31 found in some of the already traced bank accounts.

He added that the hotel and a mansion linked to the head of the syndicate in Nigeria, Reginald Peter Chidiebere, and another mansion linked to the head of the syndicate in Mozambique, Festus Ibewuike, located in Ago Palace area had already been marked for forfeiture to the Federal Government.

He said the measure yielded further fruit on Thursday, February 22, when a female member of the syndicate and wife of Festus Ibewuike, Mrs. Confidence Ndidiamaka Ibewuike, who is one of those to collect part of the consignment from Adinnu Felix Chinedu, was arrested at Ago Palace area.

“When they were brought face to face, he (Adinnu Felix Chinedu) immediately identified her as one of the members of the criminal syndicate who had received similar packages of heroin with the syndicate’s logo from him on two different occasions. Though she denied knowing Adinnu or receiving anything from him before, investigation later revealed how her husband, identified as Festus Ibewuike, who is a top kingpin and currently residing in Mozambique, used to send drug consignments to her through Adinnu Felix Chinedu.

“With pictorial evidence of different parcels with different codes and using other methodologies, we were able to confirm several instructions from her husband to her regarding illicit drug shipments already collected before. A search was promptly conducted in their residence located at the Ago Palace area, Festac Town, where a Toyota Venza car was recovered as well as several documents, including bank and property documents belonging to Festus Ibewuike.

“Their mansion in Ago Palace area has also been marked for forfeiture to the Federal Government as part of efforts to ensure all those involved are brought to book,” he said.

Marwa assured that the NDLEA is resolved to end the reign of drug barons and disconnect Nigeria from the global drug trafficking network.

“We have maintained a consistently strong performance, every week. With this heroin bust, we are sending a warning again to drug traffickers within and outside the county that if they fail to desist from the illicit drug trade, the long arm of the law will catch up with them,” he added.

About the Author

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Anthony Awunor, is a business correspondent who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Linguistics (UNILAG). He is also an alumnus of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria Kaduna State. He lives in Lagos.

Anthony Awunor, THEWILL
Anthony Awunor, is a business correspondent who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Linguistics (UNILAG). He is also an alumnus of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria Kaduna State. He lives in Lagos.

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