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Pictures: How NDLEA scuttled marriage plan in Brazil, lavish Yuletide for drug barons

The hope of three notorious drug traffickers to hold a lavish Christmas celebration was dashed penultimate Friday when the operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency intercepted the traffickers at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. They were carrying 4.91kg of cocaine.

NDLEA sources told CRIME DIGEST that the arrest was made possible as a result of new strategies adopted by the agency, which placed passengers on the Nigeria-Brazil route on its watch list.

Two of the suspected drug traffickers, it was learnt, were nabbed on their way from Brazil aboard a Qatar Airways flight, while one was leaving the country to Madrid, Spain in an Air Maroc flight.

The NDLEA Airport Commander, Alhaji Hamza Umar, told CRIME DIGEST that Calistus Aniagolo, 28, and Emmanuel Okoli, 29, were arrested on their way from Brazil, while Chinedu Ezeala, 34, was nabbed on his way to Madrid.

Aniagolo, who excreted 86 wraps of substances, which tested positive for cocaine, sources in the NDLEA alleged, was a professional drug courier.

The suspect, who excreted cocaine weighing 1.37kg, told CRIME DIGEST that the NDLEA had scuttled his Christmas plans for a grand celebration.

Preliminary investigation showed that Aniagolo had lived in countries notorious for the illicit drug business like Tunisia, Afghanistan, Dubai, India and South Africa. It was gathered that the suspect spent two weeks in Brazil, where he bought the drugs with the assistance of his associates.

The Enugu State-born suspected drug trafficker, who is also a junior secondary school dropout, told CRIME DIGEST that he ventured into the trade because he needed money to travel to Europe.

He said, “I ventured into auto parts business between 1995 and 1997; that was after I dropped out of secondary school. I am a 28-year-old bachelor. I have travelled to many countries around the world, but I needed money to travel to Europe because travelling is part of me. Although I have travelled to many countries, I am still not fulfilled.

“I knew I was taking a risk, but it was important to me. I wanted to actualise my dream and also help my family. I made a lot of promises to my family concerning the Christmas before my trip; unfortunately, I was caught. Everything has turned against me. I regret this action.”

Okoli, who worked as a receptionist in Senegal and was also arrested on the Qatar Airways flight, reportedly ingested 84 wraps of cocaine weighing 1.60kg.

It was learnt that he would have been paid N500,000 by his sponsors if he had succeeded. In his confessional statement, the suspect said his arrest had disrupted his proposed marriage plan to his Brazilian acquitance. “I used to work as a receptionist in Senegal. I left Senegal to Brazil to conclude my marriage plans for my Brazilian woman. My coming to Nigeria was to collect my birth certificate and other documents for my marriage. I feel bad because of my proposed marriage that is now uncertain. It is sad,” said Okoli, who is from Anambra State.

Ezeala, who is said to have lived in Madrid for a decade, reportedly ingested 112 wraps of cocaine weighing 1.94kg. The quantity of the illicit drug was said to be the largest ingested by an individual within the month.

Preliminary findings showed that he came to Nigeria on November 29, 2010 and was to return to his base this January. The suspect, who is from Imo State, allegedly succumbed to pressure to traffic in narcotics as a result of joblessness and the desire to make quick money for the end of year celebration.

The Chairman/Chief Executive officer of the NDLEA, Alhaji Ahmadu Giade, in his Christmas message, vowed that the anti-drug agency would not allow drug barons to enjoy their illicit proceeds.

Giade said, “We are going to make drug trafficking unprofitable to drug barons. We hope to make it extremely difficult for drug traffickers to smuggle cocaine through intense vigilance. We shall continue to step up efforts on all routes.”

He added that the red alert on the Nigeria-Brazil route took into cognisance the sensitive nature of the route and that the agency’s strategic plan covered other routes. The NDLEA boss added that all the suspects would soon be charged to court.

– Punch

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