The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said on Monday that it had apprehended a pastor (name withheld) in Lagos attempting to export 174 kg of narcotics to South Africa.
In a statement by the Head, Public Affairs Unit, Mr Ofoyeju Mitchell, the NDLEA said the suspect was arrested following the interception of the drug at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) during pre-shipment examination.
It said that preliminary investigation indicated that the 60-year-old accused was suspected to be a member of a drug syndicate operating in Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.
It also stated that the pastor was a member of the Eternal Sacred Order of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church at Agodo-Egbe, Ikotun, Lagos.
“He had international passports bearing his photographs with the names Michael Raji and Kadigun Fatah Ola respectively. It was equally discovered that the church premises where he was ministering, also served as a warehouse for narcotics.
The seized drugs, concealed inside large bags of foodstuff, were found to contain 91kg of Methamphetamine and 83kg of Ephedrine with an estimated street value of N609 million.”
The statement also quoted Mr Hamza Umar, the Commander, NDLEA, Lagos Airport, as saying that a Mercedes Benz Jeep was also impounded during the operation.
“I can tell you that this suspect is a smooth operator but we have uncovered his bag of tricks. The drugs were brought to the airport for export to South Africa.
Investigation eventually traced the movement of the drugs to his church premises where he was arrested,” Hamza stated.
According to the statement, the suspect said that he collected the drugs from a friend.
“I received the drugs from my friend and I kept them in the church since October 2014.
I am the resident pastor of Cherubim and Seraphim Agodo-Egbe, Ikotun branch, Lagos. I attended Ansarudeen Primary and Secondary School, Ibadan.
I later attended Yaba College of Technology, where I had my Trade Test in Electrical Installation.
I was ordained a full time pastor in 1977. This is a great temptation for me and I pray to God to overcome it,” Michael Raji said in the statement.
The Chairman/Chief Executive of the agency, Alhaji Ahmadu Giade, was quoted as saying that the game was up for the suspect.
“The game is up for the suspect and we have a strong evidence for prosecution. This is one of the largest seizures of psychotropic substances at the airport. We are working very hard to apprehend other accomplices and bring them to book,” Giade stated.
The NDLEA boss called on members of the public to continue to support the NDLEA by volunteering useful information on drug trafficking syndicates.