The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), on Friday, said it had arrested a suspected notorious drug baron, Azubuike Odugwe, over importation of 1.025 kilogrammes of cocaine. The agency’s spokesman, Mitchell Ofoyeju, said in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the arrest was made during inward screening of passengers on Emirates Airline flight from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
It said that Odugwe was found with wraps of powdery substances that tested positive for cocaine at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
“Odugwe, who is currently on bail over several drug charges brought against him by the agency, was found with wraps of cocaine at the MMIA, Lagos.
“The wraps of cocaine were packed in duty-free polythene inside his luggage. This mode of drug concealment in duty-free bags is similar to the last drug charge involving him,” it said.
The statement also said that the suspected drug kingpin told investigators during interrogation that he had made a big mistake.
It said that Odugwe had pleaded not guilty to previous charges where drugs were not found on him, alleging that his enemies were behind his trial.
It also said that Ahmadu Garba, an NDLEA commander, described the arrest as a sign of what to expect in the future and promised to make the airport difficult for drug traffickers.
“I am happy with this high-profile arrest. It is a good way to start and sign of better days ahead. The suspect travelled to Dubai on September 6 and was arrested on September 10 on arrival at the Lagos airport,” Garba said.
Ahmadu Giade, Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, was also quoted as saying that the arrest of Odugwe was rewarding for the country’s fight against drugs.
“The game is up for the suspect who has been charged to court for sponsoring several drug couriers. This latest arrest is like the icing on the outstanding charges against him. He claimed to be an importer of legitimate goods but his source of income had been exposed.
“We shall diligently prosecute and dispossess him of illegal drug proceeds,” he said.
Giade also assured Nigerians that no drug baron shall escape the dragnet of justice.
NAN recalls that on May 12, 2010,Odugwe was arraigned before Justice Mohammed Liman at the Federal High Court Ikoyi, Lagos, on three count charge of conspiracy, aiding and unlawful importation of heroin.
The accused pleaded not guilty to all counts of the charge and was remanded in prison custody.
Odugwe was nabbed in a follow-up operation to the arrest of Josephine Olehi who was caught with 3.150kg of heroin at the Lagos airport on December 29, 2009 on arrival from Dubai aboard an Ethiopian Airline flight.
He had also been linked with two other cases involving heroin trafficking. He was arrested for sponsoring one Anagozie John Kennedy to Pakistan on July 26, 2007 to import 1.296 kilogrammes of substances that tested positive for heroin. Similarly, on March 11, 2009, Odugwe was rearrested after another foiled attempt by him to take delivery of 3kg of heroin from a drug courier, Sodiq Hameed.
The drug was packed in a polythene bag and concealed inside a duty-free polythene bag similar to the mode of concealment adopted by Josephine Olehi. The statement further said investigation conducted by the agency then pointed to the accused as the mastermind of several cases involving unlawful importation of narcotics into the country adding that the odugwe will be charged to court.