Operatives of the National Drug Enforcement Agency have busted a drug syndicate using the Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCO) shed of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja Lagos.
The NDLEA said it arrested six members of a syndicate using their official cover to facilitate the smuggling of illicit drugs through the Skyway Aviation Handling Company warehouse at the Lagos airport into the country have been arrested.
1,210,000 pills of tramadol were also seized from them in an operation that lasted weeks.
The NDLEA also recovered 14,481,519 pills of Tramadol and bottles of codeine syrup worth over N13 billion in street value.
The spokesperson for the NDLEA, Femi Babafemi, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday.
Babafemi identified the six suspects as Oladele Sanya-Olu; Lawal Itunu Temitope; Sanamo Daniel; Udeh Monday; Musa Mutalib and Unege Icibor.
They were arrested in relation to the illegal drug trade through SAHCO.
He said they were in NDLEA custody and that three other suspects – Sarki Salami; Abdullahi Aliyu (aka Aboki); and Monday Anwal, were on the run.
However, sources at the NDLEA said one of the people involved identified as Jide is the cargo manager for SAHCO. But his name was left out in the statement.
According to the sources, Jide’s personal vehicle – a Mercedes Benz car – was used to carry the drugs.
“He took it to the SAHCO Courier shed.
“A gate to the tarmac locked by customs and SAHCO was used and they didn’t break the lock, which means that they had access. This place is the airside
“SAHCO left theirs open and customs also claimed they forgot to lock theirs. They allowed them to go,” one of the sources said.
The sources expressed disappointment that other major agencies like the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and NDLEA do not have access to lock the gate.
One of the sources said, “These guys were obviously able to get to customs and SAHCO. Meanwhile, Jide’s vehicle has been impounded by NDLEA and the vehicle is still with us,” one of the sources said.
“How could an individual like Jide use his private vehicle to gain access to the SAHCO courier shed, a place meant for operational vehicles like forklifts,” one of the sources asked.
“Even FAAN doesn’t really have control to the airside from SAHCO and NACHO cargo sheds especially after the close of work because the sheds are usually padlocked by SAHCO and Customs. And why does NDLEA not have the keys to the gates that lead to the tarmac from both SAHCO and NACHO sheds?
“It’s surprising that NDLEA which is doing major operations when it comes to drugs in Nigeria does not have 24hours control of access to the gate from the shed.
“We (NDLEA) should be able to have people from our agency stationed at the shed gate that leads to the tarmac 24/7 for effective monitoring of the gate. The security of the gate should be inclusive of every security agencies but it’s just customs and private companies like SAHCO and NACHO that have access to the gate with their two locks.
“SAHCO and NACHO sheds are usually manned by FAAN and other security agencies from 9am to 7pm so that’s when they should open the gate.
“But when the cartel carried out their operation, they opened the gate from 5:30am and 7:00am before the operatives of FAAN and other agencies resumed at the gate. They used their SAHCO access because they have their own key to the padlock and customs claim they forgot to lock their own padlock.
“There should be no operation happening until 9am but they cashed in on the fact that they were the only ones on ground at the time.
“This is the second time SAHCO has been involved in a major drug incident.
“Sometime last year, we intercepted them. A full SAHCO-branded coaster bus meant for crew operations was loaded with drugs and SAHCO staff members were involved. The drugs recovered were worth billions of naira.”
Source: The Capital