By Bukar Bolori
The General Overseer of Christ Living Hope Church, Rev. Ugochukwu Ekwem has been arrested with 54 sticks of drugs wrapped around his body by the operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos while on his way to a three-week crusade in Nairobi, Kenya.
A statement on Sunday by the spokesman of the anti-narcotics agency, Femi Babafemi said the youthful and popular preacher who has his church headquarters in Isuaniocha, Mgbakwu road, Awka in Awka North local government area of Anambra state with two other branches in Lagos and Abuja, was arrested last Monday during the outward clearance of passengers on Ethiopian Airlines flight to Nairobi via Addis Ababa.
According to Babafemi, when tested, the 54 sticks found on the clergyman proved positive to cannabis. He subsequently confessed during preliminary interrogation that he packed that quantity of illicit substance on his body to use during his three weeks crusade in Kenya.
The spokesman of the NDLEA also said on the same day, another passenger, Nnakeanyi Chukwuka King who arrived the airport on Ethiopian Airlines flight from Sao Paulo, Brazil via Addis Ababa was intercepted during the inward clearance of passengers at the E-Arrival Hall of the Lagos Airport.
During a search of King’s luggage, 40 parcels of cocaine concealed inside bottles of body cream with a gross weight of 9.7 kilogrammes were recovered from him.
Babafemi said three days later on Wednesday, another passenger on Ethiopian Airlines flight to Italy, Mr. Edo Blessing was intercepted at the Departure Hall of the airport with 2,090 tablets of Tramadol 225mg and Flunitrazepam. The suspect who hails from Edo state but lives in Italy has claimed ownership of the recovered psychotropic substances.
On the same day, operatives arrested a freight agent, Rafiu Abbas at the NAHCO Export Shed of the airport when he presented a cargo containing 19.15 kilogrammes cannabis going to London. The illicit substance was concealed inside plastic containers labelled as “African Dishes” and packed in a bag.
In a related development, a 63-year-old Vincent Obimma was last Friday arrested with 350 grammes of cocaine and 150 grammes of heroin by NDLEA operatives at a park in the Apapa seaport corridor in Lagos. The drugs were hidden in industrial torch packets heading to Kano, Kano state.
Also a suspected drug dealer in Kaduna state, James Okenwa has been arrested in a follow-up operation at Central Market, Kaduna. He admitted the ownership of 1,807 bottles of cough syrup with codeine that were earlier recovered from two suspects at the tollgate.
Babafemi said at the point of his arrest, another 152 bottles of the drug were recovered from his vehicle. He has accepted ownership of all the 1,959 bottles of the codeine syrup.
In Yobe state, two fake security agents: Akalonu Justin and Azimbi Festus who were coming from Onitsha and heading to Maiduguri, Borno state have been arrested with 25 blocks of cannabis dative weighing 12 5 kilogrammes and 1,598 bottles of codeine syrup weighing 159.8 littes, while 85 kilogrammes of cannabis was also recovered from the warehouse of a notorious drug dealer in Pawari area of Damaturu, the state capital last Thursday.
In Anambra state, a total of 38,605 tablets of assorted opioids were recovered from a 29-year-old drug dealer, Awoke Friday at Nkwelle junction, Onitsha last Friday with the support of men of the Nigeria Police.
Meanwhile, the Chairman/ Chief Executive of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Retd) while commending the officers and men of the MMIA, Apapa Port, Kaduna, Yobe and Anambra Commands of the agency for the impressive seizures and arrests in the past week, charged them and their colleagues across the country to stay focussed and intensify efforts to rid Nigeria of illicit drugs and substances.