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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has filed charges against officials of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) at the Federal High Court, Abuja over an attempt to smuggle 144kg of ephedrine to Maputo, Mozambique.
The anti-narcotics agency said in a statement signed by its spokesman, Mitchell Ofoyeju, that the foiled effort took place at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

Facing prosecution for conspiracy, aiding and abetting the unlawful exportation of the drug are the Chief Security Supervisor of NAHCO, Mr. Audu Garba and four others.


NDLEA explained that its preliminary investigation revealed how the NAHCO staff, all of who were in charge of cargo safety and security, conspired with suspected drug trafficking syndicates in swapping already screened consignments by airport security with similar packages that contained narcotics. 
The illicit activity of the group, NDLEA said, was uncovered following an intelligence report by the anti-narcotic agency, which leads to the interrogation of a number of airport officials suspected to be involved in the incident.


Ofoyeju posited that while the others were cleared, the five NAHCO staff members, including a load controller who is still at large, were found to be involved in the crime. 


“These staffs were deliberately working to undermine security measures at the airport by swapping already screened cargoes with similar consignment that had been stuffed with narcotics,” he said. “The Chief Security Supervisor, Mr. Audu Garba was also identified as the suspected mastermind of this high-level conspiracy. Others are two security assistants, Nasiru Ibrahim and Haruna Abdullahi, a driver, Adamu Dasura as well as a load controller, Victor Ahenje who is at large.




The spokesman explained that the defendants were taking undue advantage of their position and privilege by deploying the official vehicle of NAHCO in their act of sabotage. Furthermore, the shipment of 144kgs of ephedrine concealed among hair relaxers and cereals was swapped with a similar package that was screened by all security operatives. 


“Unfortunately for the suspects, what appeared to be a discreet plot to export narcotics to Mozambique through an Ethiopian airline flight unlawfully was promptly nipped in the bud by the NDLEA.” 


Commenting on the issue, the Abuja Airport Commander of NDLEA, Mr. Hamisu Lawan, said that the management of NAHCO at the Abuja airport was cooperating with investigators. 


He confirmed that it was a case of outright swapping of already screened cargoes with similar bags, noting that its investigators have made significant progress in the case.


NDLEA Chief Executive, Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah (Rtd.), stressed that weak security links must be identified and strengthened.


“This is unacceptable and unethical. It is time to identify and beef-up areas of weaknesses. The action of the defendants is calculated to undermine the collective efforts of the entire airport security community. 


“This deliberate act to damage the reputation of the country in the interest of some drug trafficking syndicates must be condemned and resisted by all. The charges have been filed in, and they will appear in court soon," he added.


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