A suspected Billionaire drug baron behind the N3billion Tramadol deal involving the embattled suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari-led Intelligence Response Team (IRT) has been arrested by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
A statement by the NDLEA said Chief Afam Mallinson Emmanuel Ukatu was apprehended after months of surveillance and evading arrest.
The statement, signed by the Agency’s spokesman, Femi Babafemi said Chief Ukatu, who is Chairman of Mallinson Group of Companies, was eventually nabbed onboard a flight to Abuja at the MM2 terminal of the Lagos airport, Ikeja, on Wednesday April 13.
Investigations, according to the statement, reveal Chief Ukatu has been a “major importer of large consignments of different brands and high dosages of Tramadol Hydrochloride”, ranging from 120mg, 200mg, 225mg to 250mg – “all of which are illicit”.
Mr Babafemi said Chief 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,” he revealed.
Giving a background to the suspect, Mr Babafemi said Chief Ukatu came under the watch of the NDLEA last year after five cartons of Tramadol – 225mg – were seized from his staff on May 4, 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,” he recounted.
Following the arrest of Chief Ukatu’s staff – Pius Enidom and Sunday Ibekwete – Mr Kyari’s men were then led by the suspects to the Mallinson warehouse at Ojota in Lagos, where 197 additional Cartons of Tramadol (225mg) were seized by the IRT Team.
According to Mr Babafemi, the monetary value of the 202 cartons of Tramadol seized from Mallinson in one day was over N3billion, adding that three weeks after the seizure, the Kyari 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,” he explained.
“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.”
Writing by Nosa Aituamen; Editing by Daniel Adejo and Tony Okerafor