Three South Africa-based Nigerians, among them a mother of seven, have been arrested by operatives of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, with drugs suspected to be methamphetamine, with an estimated street value at N374 million.
Also arrested was a 44-year-old Asaba-based music producer, whose alleged attempt to smuggle 4.95kg of substance suspected to be cocaine into the country was foiled.
The suspects, who were arrested at Murtala Mohammed International Airport, MMIA, Lagos, allegedly concealed the substance in security lamps, silicon sealants and foodstuff.
The NDLEA airport Commander, Mr. Hamza Umar, said: “Those apprehended are Chukwuenyem, 48 years old, with 21.695kg of methamphetamine hidden inside his bag; Kelvin, 37, caught with 9.980kg of methamphetamine hidden inside solar security lamps; Deborah, 40, found with 5kg of methamphetamine hidden inside foodstuff and Michael, 44, with 4.95kg of cocaine hidden inside silicon sealants.
“Apart from Michael, who was coming from Sao Paulo, Brazil, with 4.95kg of cocaine, the other three suspects were trying to smuggle methamphetamine to South Africa where they reside.”
During interrogation, Chukwuenyem, a father of three, said he was lured into drug trafficking on his birthday.
According to him, “I struggled to feed my family by selling foodstuff. At present, my capital is so small that the business is near moribund. A friend met me on my birthday and introduced me into drug trafficking.
“He promised to pay me 15,000 South African Rand. My children are out of school because of my inability to pay tuition fee. This is my first time of dealing in drugs and I regret everything. I pray to be out of this problem.”
On his part, 37-year-old Kelvin, also blamed his indulgence on his poor living condition back in South Africa.
He said: “I reside in South Africa where I import and export phones and clothes. I have five children from three women. My business is grounded and I now live from hand to mouth.
“A friend in South Africa gave me the solar lamp where the drug was found. He used to assist me financially and he also promised to pay my children’s school fees.”
Deborah, the mother of seven, said she was given the drugs by a man she sought financial assistance from.
According to her, “I have seven children and I take care of them from the sales of foodstuff. I came to Nigeria to buy foodstuff such as melon, vegetables and other local spices.
“There is a man in South Africa that I went to request for financial assistance to enable me expand my business. He told me that somebody would give me some food items for him.
“When I got to the airport, NDLEA officers detected methamphetamine in the package given to me by the man. This was how I found myself in this situation.”
Michael, who was on his way from Brazil also claimed he was given a bag in Brazil without the slightest inkling of its content.
He said: “I am a music producer. I travelled to Brazil to promote my music label and to partner other producers. I had a successful deal but on my way back, I accepted a bag from a friend I met in Sao Paulo to take to Nigeria.
“When I got here, NDLEA demanded to search and 29 out of the 34 sealants were found to contain cocaine. This is a major setback for my career and I feel very bad.”