A 34-year-old single mother has been arrested by Anti-narcotic agents at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, while she was on the point of smuggling illicit substances out of the country.
Harriet Bolatito Solabi, who holds a Higher National Diploma from the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta, Ogun state, had successfully checked in two bags, said to have contained personal effects on Ethiopian Airline flight No.910 to Addis Ababa.
Solabi had boarded when the operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, an action that resulted in the flight being delayed.
NDLEA Principal Staff Officer, Public Affairs, Jonah Achema, who confirmed the arrest, stated that Solabi’s personal effects were evacuated for security and investigation purpose.
“The flight was held down from take-off for security and investigation purposes, an action that is consistent with Aviation Policy. The drugs were concealed in the false bottom of the bags: 3.9 kilograms of Ephedrine and1.6 kilogram’s of Methamphetamine.”
During interrogation, Solabi, who resides in Abaranje area of Ikotun, a Lagos suburb, claimed to be a trader in fabrics.
She said “I usually travel to South Africa to buy fabrics and bring to Nigeria where I distribute to customers.
I did not know the content of the bags. I was directed by my contact in Pretoria, South Africa, to collect it from a man in Lagos. I arrived at Abuja from Lagos on a local flight for an onward flight to Johannesburg, when I was arrested.”
In a similar development, Victor Chukwu, 44, another suspected peddler, was arrested at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Achema, the agency’s image maker, stated that the primary school drop-out “arrived from Malawi with 59 wraps of Heroin weighing 865 grams which he had ingested.”
During interrogation, he said: “A black woman met me in a restaurant in Malawi and talked me into bringing it to Nigeria. I was to call her on arrival in Nigeria, where a recipient would be directed to me.”
Chukwu, father of two from Ata-Oulu, Imo State, admitted to be aware of the illicit substance but blamed his action on unemployment, saying “I have been unemployed for years and was unable to feed my family. Under such condition, I had to do anything that came my way to survive.”
Commenting on the arrest, Lawan Hamisu, NDLEA Commander, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, stated that recent seizures by the Command showed that South and East Africa routes were becoming more attractive to West African Drug Trafficking Organisations, adding that Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania featured prominently as source of transiting Heroin from Pakistan to Nigeria.
“Ethiopian Airlines are most preferred by these criminals. NDLEA at the Abuja Airport has in the last three months intercepted 26 kilograms of illicit drugs consisting of Cocaine, Heroin, Methamphetamine and Ephedrine through Ethiopian Airline alone with almost 50 per cent of the seizures going to South Africa,” he said.