The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has arrested one Afam Mallinson Emmanuel Ukatu, a suspected drug baron believed to be behind the N3 billion Tramadol deal involving the suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police Abba Kyari.
The NDLEA said Ukatu was arrested after months of surveillance during which he evaded arrest.
According to the agency, Ukatu, Chairman of Mallinson Group of Companies, was nabbed onboard a flight to Abuja at the MM2 terminal of the Lagos airport, Ikeja, on April 13.
A statement released by Femi Babafemi, the spokesperson of the NDLEA, said investigations revealed that Ukatu is a major importer of large consignments of different brands and high dosages of Tramadol Hydrochloride, ranging from 120mg, 200mg, 225mg and 250mg, all of which are illicit.
The statement added that Ukatu owns pharmaceutical and plastic manufacturing companies, which he used as a cover to import illicit drugs into Nigeria. 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 N17 million each as against the then black market value that ranged between N18 million and N20 million 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 statement said.
According to the NDLEA, the monetary value of the 202 cartons of Tramadol seized from Mallinson is over N3 billion.
“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 ,” the statement added.
The NDLEA said that after over eight months of following the lead, anti-narcotic officers of the agency eventually arrested Ukatu at the Lagos airport on April 13.
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.
The ICIR reported that the NDLEA declared the suspended head of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) Abba Kyari wanted over his alleged involvement in drug trafficking in February 2022 and charged him to court alongside his accomplices.