By Muhaimin Olowoporoku
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, (NDLEA) on Monday announced that it has made its largest cocaine seizure till date after it intercepted 21.9kg of cocaine at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.
This was contained in a statement signed by the NDLEA Airport Commander, Mr. Kabir Tsakuwa, and the agency’s Spokesman, Deputy Commander of Narcotics (DCN) Jonah Achema.
Both officers said the substance was concealed in two unclaimed suite cases discovered after the arrival of Ethiopian Airline, ET 910 in Abuja from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
According to the statement, vigilant officers of the Command became suspicious upon noticing that the two briefcases were abandoned on the conveyor belt without any passenger claiming them during the inward clearance of the flight.
Tsakuwa, the airport commander then directed the officers to keep an eye on the suitcases and informed the Airline and its handlers of NDLEA’s interest in the luggage.
Days after the luggage were not claimed, Tsakuwa said they formally contacted the station Manager of Ethiopian Airline and the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO Aviance) indicating the suspicion of the agency on the suitcases.
“I placed a standing order that NDLEA should be invited before the luggage would be released to the owner or in the event that the luggage would be returned to the point of embarkation.
“After many weeks of no claim by the owners, we informed the Airline on the need for a search to be conducted on the unclaimed suitcases.
“The Airline officials, including the baggage handler along with the Department of State Services, Aviation Security and Nigeria Customs Service were invited to NDLEA Office where the search was conducted.
In the first suitcase, three blankets were found out of which two contained parcel of transparent nylon which housed whitish substances suspected to be hard drugs.
Field test on the substance proved positive for cocaine and weighed 10.750kg.
“The second unclaimed suitcase contained twenty-two packet shirts, one parcel of drug was concealed in each of the shirts and covered with a blue carbon paper containing a transparent nylon.
“The substance was also field-tested and proved positive for cocaine and weighed 11.150KG. The second suitcase had a baggage tag with a name Nze Lusaka U. The drug seized made a total of 21.9kg,” he said.
The command said investigation was still ongoing and the Command was liaising with Ethiopian Airline to get more information to unravel the identity of the couriers.