The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) yesterday disclosed that its agents at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Command, Abuja, intercepted 21.9 kilogrammes of cocaine.
The illicit substance concealed in two suitcases, it said, is the largest single seizure by the command.
The agency in a statement issued in Abuja by the Deputy Commander of Narcotics (DCN) and Principal Staff Officer of Public Affairs, Jonah Achema, stated that the two unaccompanied and unclaimed suitcases were discovered after the arrival of an Ethiopian Airline ET 910 in Abuja from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Achema hinted that during the inward clearance of the flight, the vigilant officers of the command became suspicious upon noticing that the two brief cases were abandoned on the conveyor belt without any of the passengers claiming them.
He said the NDLEA commander directed the officers to keep an eye on the suitcases and informed the airline and its handlers of NDLEA's interest in the luggage.
According to him, "After few days of not claiming the luggage, the commander formally contacted the Station Manager of Ethiopian Airline and NAHCO Aviance being the handler for the airline, indicating the suspicion of the agency of the suitcases and placed a standing order that NDLEA should be invited before the luggage would be released to the owner or in the event that the luggage would be returned to the point of embarkation.
"After many weeks of no claim by the owners, the commander informed the airline on the need for search to be conducted on the unclaimed suitcases. The airline officials, including the baggage handler along with the Department of State Services (DSS), aviation security and Nigeria Customs Service were invited to NDLEA office where the search was conducted."
He further stated that the first unclaimed suitcase was searched and found with three blankets out of which two contained parcel of transparent nylon which housed whitish substances suspected to be hard drugs.
"Field test proved positive for cocaine which weighed 10.750kg. The suitcase has a baggage tag with a name Akamonye Ife.
"The second unclaimed suitcase contained 22 packet shirts, one parcel of drug was concealed in each of the shirts and covered with a blue carbon paper containing a transparent nylon. The substance was also field-tested and proved positive for cocaine which weighed 11.150kg.
"The second suit case had a baggage tag with a name Nze Lusaka U. The drug seized made a total of 21.9kg," he stated.
According to NDLEA Airport Commander, Kabir Sani Tsakuwa, "Investigation is ongoing, and the command is currently liaising with the Ethiopian Airline to get more information in order to unravel the identity of the couriers."