NDLEA Intercepts $4.9m Fake Currency, Arrests Two Wanted Drug Barons

National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has intercepted fake currencies worth $4.9 million and CFA 57 million on the Abuja-Lokoja Highway.
The CFA franc is the common currency of the 14 African countries belonging to the Franc Zone. It was introduced to the French colonies in West Africa in 1945, replacing the French West African franc.
Director of Media and Advocacy, NDLEA, Mr Femi Babafemi said on Sunday that the suspected counterfeit notes were seized from a commercial bus travelling from Lagos to Kano on Tuesday.
He said that the personnel conducted a thorough search on the bus, which led to the seizure of the 4.8 million dollars and 57 million CFA suspected to be counterfeits.
He commended the Federal High Court in Sokoto for sentencing an acting district head in the State, Alhaji Umar Mohammed (aka Dan Bala) to five-and-a-half years imprisonment for dealing in hard drugs.
Presided over by Justice Ahmad Mahmud, the court sentenced Alhaji Mohammed after the NDLEA preferred a four-count charge of drug dealing against him in October 2022.
The NDLEA had informed the court that Mohammed was in possession of and dealing in 436.38kg of Indian hemp and 7kg of other psychotropic drugs.
At the end, Mohammed bagged two years imprisonment on each of the first two counts with an option of N1 million fine, and eight months on each of the third and fourth counts without an option of fine.
However, on October 11, NDLEA operatives stormed Orue Forest in Owan West Local Government Area of Edo and arrested one Happy Akashili (37) and Solomon Uwesue (40) in a hut located inside an Indian hemp farm.
Babafemi stated that the farm measuring 2.4 hectares was destroyed, noting that 92kg already processed skunk were also recovered there.
He hinted that 49kg of skunk was also seized at Ogbeturu camp in the area.
In addition, the operatives of NDLEA arrested two wanted drug barons at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja.
The arrest of the two heads of transnational criminal organisations with multi billion naira worth of illicit drugs was possible after weeks of intelligence-led operations across the country and outside Nigeria.
Babafemi said on Sunday in Abuja, that the arrest of the suspected drug barons came on the heels of the interception of some consignments of cocaine and heroin.
He informed that the drugs were buried in the bellies of the two traffickers heading to Paris, France and Doha, Qatar before they were arrested by the operatives.
The spokesman noted that NDLEA also arrested one Hakeem Salami on October 10 at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja- Lagos.
He said that the suspect was the brain behind “Tajudeen Babatunde Abioye Transnational Criminal Organisation” involved in the illicit trade of several narcotics.
The narcotics include cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and ephedrine, which were traded between Nigeria, Brazil, Ghana, South Africa, Mozambique and Europe.
Babafemi disclosed that the suspect fled Nigeria to South Africa upon the arrest of a member of his syndicate, Suleiman Oba at the Lagos airport on August 25, over attempt to export 25.10kgs of ephedrine to South Africa.
Salami was however arrested with the partnership of South African authorities and other intelligence and investigative mechanisms.
While some of his luxury vehicles were seized and his home in Surulere Lagos sealed, other members of the cartel such as Suleiman and Godwin Edet Mathew are already in custody.
In his confessional statement, Salami claimed that he was into the importation of building materials from China to Nigeria and used to sell gold in South Africa before delving into illicit drug trade about two years ago.
In a related development, Babafemi said that the leader of another cartel, Ikechukwu Okafor (aka Jantu) and his wife, Ifeyinwa Okafor were also taken into custody on October 5.
This followed weeks of intelligence gathering about their activities and the raid of their hideout at 9 Awa Street, Ago Palace, Okota area of Lagos by NDLEA operatives.
He maintained that the operatives recovered 27.566 kilograms of methamphetamine concealed in a blue box and two sacks, ready for export to Europe and Asia.
The Lexus RX350 marked ABJ 512 AY parked in their house was also seized during the operation.
At the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, NDLEA operatives also arrested a suspected drug trafficker, Nwofor Ejiogu, 45, during the outward clearance of Qatar Airways flight QR 1432 to Doha on October 6.
Babafemi said that after body scan revealed that Ejiogu ingested cocaine, he was placed under observation, during which he allegedly excreted 75 pellets of cocaine weighing 1.653kgs.
At the point of arrest, Ejiogu who was the last passenger to board his flight, offered to compromise an NDLEA officer with $3,000 to free him.
The next day on October 7, another trafficker, Nwufo Charles, 45, was also arrested while attempting to board Lufthansa Airlines flight LH 0595 to Paris, France via Frankfurt, Germany.
After undergoing checks with body scanner, he was taken into recovery room where he excreted 96 wraps of heroin he ingested with a total weight of 1.413kgs.

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