By Evelyn Usman
A 34-year-old single mother, Harriet Solabi, has been arrested by anti-narcotic agents at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, while she was on the verge of smuggling illicit substances out of the country.
Solabi, who holds a Higher National Diploma from a polytechnic in the South-West, had successfully checked in two bags, said to have contained personal effects, on an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis Ababa.
She had boarded when she was recalled by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency,
an action that resulted in the flight being delayed.
NDLEA Principal Staff Officer, Public Affairs, Jonah Achema, who confirmed the arrest, stated that Solabi’s personal effects were evacuated for security and investigation purpose.
According to Achema, “the flight was held down from take-off for security and investigation purposes, an action that is consistent with aviation policy.
“The drugs, concealed in the false bottom of the bags, are 3.9 kilogrammes of Ephedrine and 1.6 kilogramme’s of Methamphetamine.”
During interrogation, Solabi, who resides in Abaranje area of Ikotun, a Lagos suburb, claimed to be a trader in fabrics.
She said: “I usually travel to South Africa to buy fabrics and bring to Nigeria, where I distribute to customers.
“I did not know the content of the bags; I was directed by my contact in Pretoria, South Africa, to collect it from a man in Lagos. I arrived Abuja from Lagos on a local flight for an onward flight to Johannesburg.”
The agency’s image-maker also disclosed that another suspected peddler, Victor Chukwu, 44, was arrested at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The primary school drop-out, according Achema, “arrived from Malawi with 59 wraps of heroin, weighing 865 grammes, which he had ingested.”
During interrogation, he said: “A black woman met me in a restaurant in Malawi and talked me into bringing it to Nigeria. I was to call her on arrival in Nigeria, where a recipient would be directed to me.
“I have been unemployed for years and was unable to feed my family. Under such condition, I had to do anything that came my way to survive,” added the father of two, who hails from Ata-Oulu, Imo State.
Also commenting on the arrest, NDLEA Commander, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Lawan Hamisu, stated that recent seizures by the Command showed that South and East Africa route were becoming more attractive to West African drug trafficking gangs, adding that Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania featured prominently as source of transiting Heroin from Pakistan to Nigeria.
According to him, “Ethiopian Airlines are most preferred by these criminals.
“NDLEA at the Abuja Airport has, in the last three months, intercepted 26 kilogrammes of illicit drugs consisting of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and ephedrine through Ethiopian Airline alone, with almost 50 percent of the seizures going to South Africa.”