The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency says it has arrested a 52-year-old evangelist, John Arinze, over his attempt to export N1.4bn worth of narcotics to South Africa.
It said the drugs, made of 92kgs of methamphetamine and 73kgs of ephedrine, were detected inside two containers of foodstuff meant for export to South Africa at the Apapa Seaport in Lagos.
A statement by the NDLEA spokesperson, Mitchell Ofoyeju, on Friday said the suspect, who is a Nigerian based in South Africa, was under interrogation following an intense undercover operation by the agency and that he had confessed to the crime. He added that sniffer dogs belonging to the agency detected the drugs during screening operation.
The statement partly read, “During examination of the containers marked MSKU 388274-1 and MSKU 424717-0; anti-narcotic officials detected 20kg of Methamphetamine and 50kg of Ephedrine inside the first container. Also, 72Kg of Methamphetamine and 23Kg of Ephedrine were detected in the second container. The total weight of the drugs is 165kg.
“Officers successfully traced the illicit consignment to a fifty-two year old man who claimed to be an evangelist by name John Vincent Arinze who was arrested in his hotel room in Lagos. A Mercedes Benz sport utility vehicle belonging to him was also impounded at the time of arrest. The suspect hails from Ara village, Nise in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State. John who had lived in South Africa for over a decade accepted ownership of the illicit shipment.”
The statement noted further that the drugs were hidden inside packs of melon, concealed in foodstuff and cosmetics such as gaari (cassava flakes), noodles, food seasoning, yam powder, some alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, pepper, milk, herbal hair cream and cereals.
Other items in the container were said to include hair cream, bags of melon, kegs of palm oil, beans, biscuits and sardine.
The suspect was said to have told the operatives in his statement that he made a “big mistake” by taking over the business of his late wife, who was into drug trafficking.
“I am an evangelist living in Durban South Africa. My late wife was into drug trafficking before she died few years ago. I made a mistake venturing into her business. It is my fault,” he was quoted as saying.
According to the statement, the Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Col. Muhammad Abdallah (retd.) said the seizure would have a positive influence on the campaign against narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances in the country.
Abdallah was quoted as saying “This is a product of careful planning and meticulous tracking of narcotic drugs movement. The consignments were closely monitored by our undercover agents and intercepted at Apapa Seaport, Lagos following the detection of narcotics by NDLEA sniffer dogs during screening operation. This will definitely have a positive influence on Nigeria’s drug control efforts.
“I am very happy with the success recorded in this operation. The Agency will remain painstaking and professional in the fight against illicit drug production, trafficking, abuse and prosecuting offenders. We hope to unmask the drug syndicate behind this shipment and make more arrests soon.”
The statement said the suspect would soon be charged to court.