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NDLEA arrests pharmaceutical firm boss behind N3BN tramadol link to Kyari

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has arrested Chairman of Mallinson Group, Afam Ukatu, for allegedly masterminding the importation of tramadol worth N3 billion that was discovered by suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari-led Intelligence Response Team (IRT), in Lagos State.

Ukatu was arrested by the anti-narcotic personnel onboard a flight to Abuja at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Ikeja, ending eight months of investigations to ascertain the importer of the banned substance into Nigeria.

The suspect’s style of trade was said to have been uncovered by the Kyari-led IRT but the team was alleged to have concealed some part of their findings including items seized from the businessman at his warehouse in Ojota axis of the state.

As gathered, the billionaire had allegedly been 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 were illicit substances that were banned by law.

Aside that Ukatu allegedly owns pharmaceutical and plastic manufacturing companies that were used as a cover for importation of illicit drugs into the country, the businessman was said to be operating over 100 bank accounts, most of which were used said to be used for money laundering.

Confirming his arrest on Monday, NDLEA’s Director of Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, disclosed that the agency’s personnel apprehend him recently and was already been questioned.

Babafemi explained that Ukatu came under watch last year after five cartons of Tramadol 225mg were seized from his staff when he sent them to sell to undercover police officers.

He noted that Ukatu was not aware that the officer that negotiated the deal with him was a member of the Kyari-led IRT and that they had agreed at N17million each as against the then black market value that ranged between N18million and N20million a carton in Lagos.

In a statement made available to newsmen, the NDLEA spokesperson narrated that two of Ukatu’s staff: Pius Enidom and Sunday Ibekwete, after their arrest, led the Kyari’s men to Mallinson’s warehouse at Ojota in Lagos where 197 additional Cartons of Tramadol 225mg were seized by the IRT Team.

He added that the monetary value of 202 cartons of Tramadol impounded by the NDLEA from Mallinson warehouse was said to worth over N3 billion.

According to the statement, three weeks after the seizure, the Kyaris 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”.

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