By Bukar Bolori
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on Monday said the billionaire drug baron fingered in the N3 billion tramadol deal involving the embattled suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari-led Intelligence Response Team, IRT, is now in their net.
A statement by the spokesman of the anti-narcotics agency, Femi Babafemi read: “Billionaire drug baron behind the N3billion tramadol deal involving the embattled suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari-led Intelligence Response Team, IRT, Chief Afam Mallinson Emmanuel Ukatu has been arrested by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA.”
He disclosed that the arrest was after months of surveillance and Ukatu’s evasion of arrest, adding that Ukatu who is Chairman of Mallinson Group of Companies was eventually nabbed onboard a flight to Abuja at the MM2 terminal of the Lagos airport on Wednesday 13th April.
Babafemi said Investigations revealed that Ukatu has been a major importer of large consignments of different brands and high dosages of tramadol hydrochloride, ranging from 120mg, 200mg, 225mg and 250mg, all of which are illicit.
He said Ukatu owns pharmaceutical and plastic manufacturing companies, which he used as a cover to import illicit drugs into the country, in addition to operating 103 bank accounts, most of which are used to launder money.
He disclosed that Ukatu came under watch last year after five cartons of Tramadol 225mg were seized from his staff on 4th May 2021 when he sent them to sell to undercover police officers (unknown to Ukatu) from the then Kyari-led IRT of the Nigeria Police, Ikeja, Lagos. The price of a carton of tramadol was negotiated at N17 million each as against the then black market value that ranged between N18 million and N20 million a carton in Lagos.
He said after the arrest of Ukatu’s staff: Pius Enidom and Sunday Ibekwete, Kyari’s men were then led by the suspects to Mallinson’s warehouse at Ojota in Lagos where 197 additional cartons of tramadol 225mg were seized by the IRT Team. The monetary value of the 202 cartons of the seized products from Mallinson in one day was over N3 billion.
He alleged that three weeks after the seizure, the Kyari’s IRT team transferred only 12 Cartons of the tramadol with one truck and a suspect to the Lagos Command of the NDLEA, leaving 190 cartons unaccounted for, and after over eight months of following the lead, anti-narcotics officers of the agency eventually arrested Ukatu at the Lagos airport on 13th April 2022.
Babafemi recalled that Kyari and four top members of his team are already facing trial for a different but similar offence at a Federal High Court in Abuja.