By Bukar Bolori
National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, has declared a Port Harcourt, Rivers state based popular prophetess and founder of Christ Power Adoration Ministries, Faith Ugochi and a celebrity couple: Igho Ubiribo and Danielle Allen, who are the arrowheads of an international syndicate operating from Los Angeles, USA, wanted for recruiting teenage girls into drug trafficking.
A statement on Sunday by the spokesman of the anti-narcotics agency, Femi Babafemi said the lid was blown off the cartel when NDLEA operatives at the NAHCO import shed of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos intercepted a consignment of 32.7 kilogrammes of Loud, a strong variant of cannabis concealed in cartons of used wears on 16th November 2022.
A freight agent, Ukoh Oguguo was subsequently arrested while further investigations led to the arrest of four more suspects: Chikodi Favour; Obiyom Shalom; Nnochiri Promise and Edward Omatseye (aka Montana).
Babafemi said the 15-year-old Favour was the first sales girl to be arrested at a fuel station in Ajah area of Lagos.
She thereafter led the operatives to a duplex accommodation around Ikate area of Lekki, which was later discovered to be a rented apartment by the criminal group purposely for four young girls that the syndicate uses for marketing and distribution of illicit drugs.
Another girl, Shalom who is a fresh graduate of Agricultural Science from Rivers State University of Science and Technology was picked from the house alongside Favour.
He said during their preliminary interrogation, it was learnt that the syndicate rented another building used as drugs warehouse inside Richmond Estate, Lekki, noting that by the time operatives located the house, it was discovered that other members of the syndicate had broken into the store and carted away bags of illicit substances, disclosing that however, some illicit drugs paraphernalia including sealing machine, bloating machine and packaging bags were recovered from the warehouse.
Babafemi said a follow-up operation led to the arrest of Edward Omatseye at his residence around Lekki area. Edward confessed during interrogation to be working for Igho and his wife, Danielle, who are identified as the overall heads of the criminal group.
The spokesman said investigation was able to establish that Favour and Shalom were recruited as salesgirls in the illicit drug trade by Prophetess Faith Ugochi of Christ Power Adoration Ministries, using her church platform to recruit teenage girls brought to her for help, on behalf of the celebrity couple: Igho Ubiribo (aka Tiny) and Danielle Allen (aka Dani), who are the owners of the business, while Edward Omatseye (aka Montana) coordinates the illicit drug trade activities for them in Nigeria, with Nnochiri Chidinma as representative of Ben Cargo Ltd, a freight company responsible for the shipment of illicit consignments into the country.
He said while Nnochiri Chidinma and Edward Omatseye (aka Montana) have already been charged to court and are currently facing trial at the Federal High Court, Lagos alongside Ben Cargo Ltd, a freight company which had been linked to two previous drug seizures and also involved in the current case, several attempts to get Prophetess Faith Ugochi, Igho Ubiribo and Danielle Allen submit themselves for questioning have proved abortive.
He said a letter of invitation sent to Prophetess Faith Ugochi of Christ Adoration Ministries, No. 27 Anozie Street, Mile 2, Diobu, Port Harcourt, Rivers State on 28th November 2022 was received and acknowledged by her mother, with whom she runs the Church.
The letter was followed with a reminder on 9th January, 2023 after a long wait.
In the same vein, he said letters of invitation were also extended to Igho Ubiribo and Danielle Allen.
A reminder was also sent when the couple did not show any readiness to respond to the first invitation.
While Prophetess Ugochi fled her home and went into hiding but continued her prophetic ministration on Facebook, the duo of Igho and Danielle initially sent a legal representation to ask for another time to honour the invitation, they have since gone incommunicado.
He said curiously, they hurriedly moved all funds traced to their company Lasgidi Backwood Ltd where all proceeds from the sales of illicit drugs were deposited into a private account of one Victor Imagoro.
The Agency has since blocked the sum of N80 million traced to the account and obtained a court order to seize all properties including a fuel station linked to the suspects in Lagos and Port Harcourt.
The NDLEA has further sought and obtained an order of the Federal High Court Lagos to declare wanted the celebrity couple: Ubiribo Igho and Danielle Allen, as the arrowheads of the illicit trade as well as Prophetess Faith Ugochi, who recruits teenage girls as sales representatives for the duo.
Meanwhile, the agency in collaboration with other stakeholders including the Customs Service last Friday conducted a joint examination of two containers marked TRHU 4758549 and TRHU 6936803 where 143.8 million tablets of Tramadol 225mg were discovered in 720 cartons weighing 10.3 tons (10,386 kilogrammes).
The opioid pills, which were mixed with cartons of sweet, according to him were imported from India, noting that the interception followed credible intelligence and cooperation of sister agencies.
In the same vein, officers of the Directorate of Operations and General Investigations, DOGI, have intercepted at a courier firm a cargo of 1.5 kilogrammes cocaine concealed in a carton declared to contain hair cream, shampoo, hair rollers and burners, going to London, UK.
In Kaduna, operatives last Monday raided Dan Wata village, Soba local government area where they arrested one Abdurrashid Musa, 33, with 142.8 kilogrammes cannabis while the principal suspect, Ibro Danwata is still at large, while another suspect, Shamsu Abdullahi (aka Waja), 35, was also arrested the previous day during a follow up operation at Rigasa Kaduna, after he had abandoned 80,000 tablets of Diazepam weighing 13.4 kilogrammes and escaped arrest earlier.
Babafemi also disclosed that about 63 bags of cannabis sativa weighing 600 kilogrammes stored in a house at Okpe village in Akoko-Edo local government area were recovered last Friday when operatives raided the area, while a raid of a warehouse owned by one Shehi Mallam at tomatoes market, Dei Dei Abuja same day led to the seizure of 80 sacks of cannabis sativa weighing 842.4 kilogrammes.
In Cross River, 12,000 pills of tramadol 225mg were seized from a female passenger, Talatu Adamu, 46, when NDLEA officers intercepted the commercial bus she was travelling in along Ogoja/ Katsina-Ala road last Monday.
He said while a suspect, Abraham Alaigwu was arrested at Slaughter, Trans/Amadi area of Port Harcourt, Rivers state with 91.7 kilogrammes of cannabis last Thursday, 228 kilogrammes of same substance was seized from Ayodele Osuya, 35, in a Toyota Camry car around Quarter Guard area of Akure, Ondo state.
Meanwhile. While commending the officers and men of MMIA for a painstaking investigation of Prophetess Faith Ugochi and the celebrity couple, Igho Ubiribo and Danielle Allen along with other members of their cartel, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (Retd) assured that no effort will be spared to ensure the fleeing suspects are brought to face the consequences of their action.
He also expressed his gratitude to operatives of Apapa, DOGI, Edo, Cross River, Rivers, Kaduna, FCT and Ondo Commands of the agency for their resilience, professionalism and excellent synergy with other security agencies in their areas of responsibility.
He, however, charged them and their colleagues across the country to continue to raise the bar in their daily attainments.