Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency have arrested the General Overseer of Christ Living Hope Church, Rev. Ugochukwu Emmanuel Ekwem, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, while on his way to a three-week crusade in Nairobi, Kenya, with 54 sticks of drugs wrapped around his body.
The youthful and popular preacher, who has his church headquarters in Isuaniocha, Mgbakwu Road, Awka, Anambra State, and two other branches in Lagos and Abuja, was arrested on March 7, 2022, during the outward clearance of passengers on an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Nairobi via Addis Ababa.
When tested, the 54 sticks were found to be cannabis.
The clergyman confessed during a preliminary interview that he packed that quantity of illicit substance on his body to use during his three-week crusade in Kenya.
On the same day, another passenger, Nnakeanyi Chukwuka King, who arrived at the airport on an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Sao Paulo, Brazil, via Addis Ababa was intercepted during the inward clearance of passengers at the E-Arrival Hall of the MMIA.
During a search of his luggage, 40 parcels of cocaine concealed inside bottles of cream with a gross weight of 9.70kg were recovered from the suspect.
On March 9, another passenger on an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Italy, Mr Edo Blessing, was intercepted at the departure hall of the airport with 2, 090 tablets of Tramadol 225mg and Flunitrazepam.
The suspect, who hails from Edo State but lives in Italy, claimed ownership of the recovered psychotropic substances.
Also on the same day, operatives arrested a freight agent, Rafiu Abbas, at the NAHCO export shed of the airport when he presented a cargo containing 19.15kg Cannabis going to London.
The illicit substance was concealed inside plastic containers labelled as “African dishes” and packed in a bag.
In a related development, a 63-year-old man named Vincent Obimma was on March 11 arrested with 350grams of cocaine and 150grams of heroin by NDLEA operatives at a park in the Apapa seaport corridor in Lagos.
The drugs were hidden in industrial torch packets heading to Kano State.
Meanwhile, a drug dealer in Kaduna State, James Okenwa, has been arrested in a follow-up operation at Central Market, Kaduna.
He admitted that he owned 1,807 bottles of cough syrup with codeine that were earlier recovered from two suspects at the tollgate.
At the point of his arrest, another 152 bottles of the drug were recovered from his vehicle.
He has accepted ownership of all the 1,959 bottles of codeine syrup.
In Yobe State, two fake security agents — Akalonu Justin and Azimbi Festus — who were coming from Onitsha and heading to Maiduguri, Borno State, have been arrested with 25 blocks of cannabis sativa weighing 12 .5kg and 1, 598 bottles of codeine syrup weighing 159.8ltr while 85kg of cannabis was also recovered from the warehouse of a notorious drug dealer in Pawari area of Damaturu, the state capital, on March 10.
In Anambra State, a total of 38,605 tablets of assorted opioids were recovered from a 29-year-old drug dealer, Awoke Friday, at Nkwelle Junction, Onitsha, on March 11 with the support of men of the Nigeria Police Force.
While commending the officers and men of the MMIA, Apapa Port, Kaduna, Yobe and Anambra commands of the agency for the impressive seizures and arrests in the past week, Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (retd), charged them and their colleagues across the country to stay focused and intensify efforts to rid Nigeria of illicit drugs and substances, a statement by the spokesperson for the anti-narcotic agency, Mr Femi Babafemi, said on Sunday.