Abba Kyari: Drug lord with 103 bank accounts arrested at Lagos airport

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has arrested Chief Afam Ukatu, whom it described as the billionaire drug lord behind the N3bn tramadol deal involving a suspended deputy police commissioner and former chief of the intelligence response team, Abba Kyari.

A statement released by agency spokesman Femi Babafemi on Monday said he was arrested “after months of surveillance and escape”.

According to Babafemi, Ukatu, who is the Chairman of the Mallinson Group of Companies, was arrested on board a flight to Abuja at Terminal MM2 at Lagos Airport, Ikeja on Wednesday, April 13.

He said: “Investigations reveal that he has been a major importer of large consignments of various brands and high doses of tramadol hydrochloride ranging from 120mg, 200mg, 225mg and 250mg, all of which are illicit.

“Ukatu owns pharmaceutical and plastic manufacturing companies, which he used as a cover to import illicit drugs into Nigeria. This is in addition to managing 103 bank accounts, most of which are used for money laundering.

“Ukatu came under surveillance last year after five cartons of tramadol 225mg were seized from his staff on May 4, 2021, when he sent them to be sold to plainclothes police officers (unknown to Ukatu) from the Nigerian Police IRT then headed by Kyari. Force, Lagos State.

“The price of a carton of tramadol was negotiated at 17 million naira each compared to the black market value at the time which ranged between 18 million naira and 20 million naira per carton in Lagos.

“After the arrest of Ukatu staff – Pius Enidom and Sunday Ibekwete – Kyari’s men were then driven by the suspects to Mallinson’s warehouse at Ojota in Lagos where an additional 197 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 exceeded 3 billion naira.

“Three weeks after the seizure, the Kyari IRT team transferred only 12 cartons of tramadol with a truck and a suspect to NDLEA Lagos Command, leaving 190 cartons missing.

“After more than eight months of following the lead, anti-narcotics agents from the agency arrested Ukatu at Lagos airport on April 13, 2022.

“Kyari and four of his top team members are already on trial for a different but similar offense in a Federal High Court in Abuja.”

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Shawanda H. Saldana