The suspect, Fumilola Arike Ogbuaya, also known as Arike Fumilola Ogundipe, allegedly was involved in smuggling 1.595kg of cocaine from Murtala Muhammed International Airport to Saudi Arabia in February 2017.
A statement issued by NDLEA spokesman, Mitchell Ofoyeju said the agency is also investigating Mrs. Ogbuaya’s multi-billion naira assets, allegedly the proceeds of drug sales.
The anti-narcotics agency commenced investigation into Mrs. Ogbuaya after arresting one Odeyemi Omolara Morayo, also known as Ariyo Monsurat Olabisi, for drug trafficking. Investigation into Mr. Morayo implicated Mrs. Ogbuaya, according to the NDLEA commander at the Lagos airport.
He said that the NDLEA then invited the Lagos socialite in for questioning to no avail. NDLEA officers subsequently stormed her Lagos home, but the alleged drug trafficker was nowhere to be found.
“The agency is therefore investigating several landed properties worth several billions of naira traced to Mrs Fumilola Arike Ogbuaya a.k.a. Arike Fumilola Ogundipe in Lagos, Ogun and Osun States,” he said.
“The assets include Arike Plaza, some plots of land, and buildings in strategic locations. The Lagos socialite, who is a distributor of alcoholic drinks, is needed by the NDLEA in an ongoing investigation. She hails from Ilesa, Osun State.”
Impressed with the level of investigation in the ongoing case, NDLEA Chief Executive Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah has vowed to pursue the case to a logical conclusion and to trace all illicit drug proceeds.
"The agency is building capacity for elaborate investigation and this is a test case of pressing beyond a drug mule to the financiers of drug trafficking. We are determined to dislodge drug trafficking cartels and also trace their ill-gotten wealth which must be forfeited to the federal government,” Mr. Abdallah said.
He called on members of the public with information as to the whereabouts of Mrs. Ogbuaya to report to the nearest NDLEA office.
The NDLEA boss noted that asset forfeiture was an important requirement in the NDLEA Act and assured that no stone would be left unturned in the race for the total incapacitation of drug traffickers.
It will be recalled that Odeyemi Omolara Morayo, a 57-year-old grandmother and and textile merchant, at Balogun market, was caught in connection with cocaine smuggling to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos. The suspect, who claimed to be going on a pilgrimage to Jedda, Saudi Arabia had all the paraphernalia of a pilgrim save for the narcotic content of her luggage.
NDLEA commander at the Lagos airport, Ahmadu Garba explained that the two parcels of white powdery substance that tested positive for cocaine were carefully concealed inside her luggage. In his words, "a female passenger, Odeyemi Omolara Morayo with a valid Egypt air ticket from Lagos to Saudi Arabia had been arrested with 1.595kg of cocaine. The cocaine which was concealed in a false bottom of her bag was discovered during routine check on passengers at the departure hall. We had to cut the bag open to recover the cocaine because of the way it was neatly concealed. She was immediately arrested and the case is currently under investigation".
In her statement, the suspect said that her friend and customer was the one that introduced her into drug trafficking.
"I am a textile merchant at Balogun market, Lagos. I have two children and my daughter is married with children. Recently, I told my friend that I loved to go on pilgrimage this year and she promised to sponsor my trip. That was how she collected my international passport, processed my travel documents and bought return ticket on Egypt airline. The only favour she requested from me was that I should take a bag to Saudi. She also told me that somebody will collect the bag from me at Jeddah. It was an empty bag so I kept my personal effects inside it. On getting to the airport, officers discovered cocaine inside the bag during search and I was arrested" Omolara stated. She hails from Ogun State.
In his reaction, the Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Col Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah described the suspect's action as condemnable.
"Smuggling cocaine to Saudi Arabia under any guise is condemnable. It is good that she was arrested here because drug trafficking attracts capital punishment in Saudi. Apart from saving her from execution in Saudi, the prompt arrest also protected our country from disrepute. The Agency will not relent in the fight against illicit drug production, trafficking and abuse" Abdallah stated.