By Akinwande Soji-Ojo
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has disclosed that its operatives have arrested a billionaire drug baron behind the N3 billion Tramadol deal involving the embattled suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari-led IRT, Chief Afam Mallinson Emmanuel Ukatu.
This was contained in a statement issued on Monday by NDLEA spokesperson, Femi Babafemi.
The anti-narcotic agency said Ukatu’s arrest followed months of surveillance and evasion of arrest.
Ukatu, who is Chairman of Mallinson Group of Companies, was arrested onboard a flight to Abuja at the MM2 terminal of the Lagos airport, Ikeja, on Wednesda, April 13.
According to Babafemi, investigations revealed that the suspect is a major importer of large consignments of different brands and high dosages of Tramadol Hydrochloride.
He said the Tramadol, ranging from 120mg, 200mg, 225mg and 250mg are illicit, adding 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 monetary value of the 202 cartons of Tramadol seized from Mallinson in one day was 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.
“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,” the statement added.