Chioma Joseph, Lagos.
The Lagos State Command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), has intercepted 5,371.111kg of Cannabis Sativa, at the Ayobo area of Lagos, with one suspect arrested.
Daily Times reports that the seizure which was made on Tuesday, November 17, is the single largest seizure by the Command in the last five years.
According to the State Commander, Bar. Ralph Igwenagu, who briefed Journalists on the seizure on Wednesday, the drug dealers capitalised on the security gap, caused by the #EndSARS unrest to smuggle the drugs.
He revealed that the prohibited substance packed in over 70 sacks, were smuggled from Ikire in Osun State, to Ayobo, Lagos State, in a Fait haulage bus with registration number: EKY-137XZ, driven by the arrested suspect, Promise Acheluenu.
Igwenagu further noted that the seizure was made after intelligence about the activities of a notorious drug syndicate filtered to the command. He said operatives swoop into action, acted on the intelligence which led to the arrest of the suspect.
While stating that efforts were still on to arrest other fleeing members of the gang, Igwenagu assured the suspects when arrested will be made to face the full wrath of the law.
In a detailed explanation of the operation that led to the seizure, the Commander said: “ On Tuesday, November 17, Officers and men of NDLEA, Lagos State Command carried out an operation in Ayobo area of Lagos State after a long period of surveillance on a notorious drug syndicate that operates between Lagos and Osun state.
“ During the raid operation, over five tons (5,371.111kg) of Cannabis Sativa was seized and a member of the syndicate, Promise Acheluenu, 47-year-old, was arrested. Efforts are in progress to arrest the fleeing members of the syndicate and they will be arrested in no distant time. ”
While appreciating Lagosians for providing the Agency with discrete information, he warned that criminal minded persons, who wish to take advantage of the apparent low level of security presence in the state to perpetrate criminal activities will be arrested and made to face the full wrath of the law.
He maintained that through the seizure, the Command has been able to save Nigerians from the dangers associated with such substance.
Findings also revealed that the suspect had used a Nigerian Navy insignia on the impounded haulage vehicle, impersonating an officer. A closer look also revealed the suspect had compartmentalised the bus to hide the drugs, and evade security operatives.
Making confessional statement, the suspect alleged it was his first time smuggling such prohibited substance.
Acheluenu, a father of six, said he was contacted on phone by the owners of the drugs to come to Ikire to load and convey the items to Lagos.
He said it was when he got to the location in Ikire that he discovered he was to carry Cannabis Sativa, which he objected to and pleaded with the owners to help him with money to buy diesel for his bus, so that he could return to his location.
The Delta State born said the owners refused and he was left with the option but to carry the substance, with an assurance from the owners that no security personnel will harras him in the course of the journey.
The suspect said: “ At Ikire, where I loaded the drugs, there were about 10 other buses also loading same. The owners of the drugs travelled with me from Ikire, and they paid different amounts to police and military operatives at various checkpoints from Ikire to Lagos. We had agreed on N50, 000, but they gave me only N15,000 with a promise to balance up when I deliver the consignment in Lagos.
“ We had even gotten to the safe house in Ayobo, and I was to offloading the drugs when NDLEA operatives appeared and arrested me. The owners fled and have since not showed up.
“ Sincerely I regret taking this job, the risk is not worth it. I do not advise anyone to do such, as I have been suffering since my arrest. ”