The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) may have made a breakthrough in the investigation of alleged drug dealings involving the Nigeria Police Intelligence Response Team, at the time it was led by suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari.
The Agency announced on Monday that it has arrested Chief Afam Mallinson Emmanuel Ukatu, the suspected billionaire drug baron behind the N3 billion tramadol deal which allegedly involved the Kyari-led IRT.
The anti-narcotic agency explained that Ukatu’s arrest followed months of surveillance and evasion of arrest. Ukatu, who is Chairman of Mallinson Group of Companies, was said to have been arrested onboard a flight to Abuja at the MM2 terminal of the Lagos airport, Ikeja on Wednesday, 13th April.
In a statement on Monday, NDLEA spokesperson, Mr Femi Babafemi said investigations revealed that the suspect is a major importer of large consignments of different brands and high dosages of tramadol hydrochloride.
Babafemi said that tramadol ranging from 120mg, 200mg, 225mg and 250mg are illicit, and alleged that Ukatu owns pharmaceutical and plastic manufacturing companies, which he used as a cover to import illicit drugs into Nigeria.
The statement read: “This is in addition to operating 103 bank accounts, most of which are used to launder money.
“Ukatu came under watch last year after five cartons of Tramadol 225mg were seized from his staff on 4th May 2021 when he sent them to sell to undercover police officers (unknown to Ukatu) from the then Kyari-led IRT of the Nigeria Police, Ikeja Lagos. The price of a carton of Tramadol was negotiated at N17million each as against the then black market value that ranged between N18million and N20million a carton in Lagos.
“After the arrest of Ukatu’s staff: Pius Enidom and Sunday Ibekwete, Kyari’s men were then led by the suspects to Mallinson’s warehouse at Ojota in Lagos where 197 additional Cartons of Tramadol 225mg were seized by the IRT Team. The monetary value of the 202 cartons of Tramadol seized from Mallinson in one day was over N3billion.
“Three weeks after the seizure, the Kyari’s IRT team transferred only 12 Cartons of the Tramadol with one truck and a suspect to the Lagos Command of the NDLEA, leaving 190 cartons unaccounted for.
“After over eight months of following the lead, anti-narcotic officers of the Agency eventually arrested Ukatu at the Lagos airport on 13th April 2022. Kyari and four top members of his team are already facing trial for a different but similar offence at a Federal High Court in Abuja”.