The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency on Wednesday stormed and occupied the Lagos house of Chika Egwu Udensi, a crew member of the Arik Air flight W3101, who was arrested with 20 kilogrammes of cocaine at the London Heathrow Airport.
The NDLEA moved to the house after they had interrogated pilots and flight attendants of the flight that left the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos for London on Monday night. The interrogation lasted for several hours at the NDLEA head office in Lagos.
It was gathered that soon after the interrogation, the NDLEA moved to the suspect’s house in the Ejigbo area of Lagos State.
A source, who did not say if there were occupants in the house, told one of our correspondents that the NDLEA men were “currently occupying the house, and we will not leave here until we get all the evidence that we want.”
It was gathered that although the operatives had seized the suspect’s Range Rover, the NDLEA was still of the opinion that Udensi had other property.
The source said, ‘We are investigating if he has other property in Lagos or elsewhere. Some of them (suspected drug courier) live simple lives, but have other valuables stashed everywhere. We are searching for incriminating documents.”
On the interrogation, the NDLEA in a statement said the entire crew members including some support staff that worked on the flight before it departed Lagos appeared before narcotic investigators at the Ikoyi headquarters of the agency.
They include two pilots and members of the cabin crew comprising an Australian and a South African.
The statement by the NDLEA spokesperson, Mr. Mitchell Ofoyeju, read in part, “The invitation which was made by the agency was swiftly complied with by the management of Arik Air.
“The crew members were conveyed to the NDLEA office in an official bus belonging to Arik Air. This is part of ongoing investigation to determine their level of involvement in the smuggling of 20 kg of cocaine found with Chika Egwu Udensi, a member of the cabin crew in London.
“The latest Range Rover car belonging to the prime suspect parked on the airline’s premises had also been moved to the NDLEA office as exhibit.”
Ofoyeju also confirmed to one of our correspondents that the operatives went to the attendant’s house, adding, “Wait till tomorrow (Thursday). We will make a comprehensive statement on it.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer, NDLEA, Mr. Ahmadu Giade, was said to have promised to carry out an elaborate investigation into the ongoing case, stressing that all persons involved would be exposed and prosecuted.
“The agency has made remarkable progress in it counter-narcotic efforts and will resist any act capable of reversing the gains so far recorded,” he said.
However, findings by our correspondent revealed that the NDLEA and other aviation security officials were seriously grilling an Arik staff member working in the catering department who is believed to have assisted the suspect.
Security officials, it was learnt, believed that the suspect was assisted by some staff members of Arik catering department to move the 20 kilogrammes of cocaine into the aircraft.
One of the top security officials, who spoke to our correspondent under the condition of anonymity, said, “Security officials believe strongly that the 20kgs of cocaine might have been moved into the aircraft through the Arik’s catering department. There is a prime suspect in that department that is being interrogated specially.
“Normally, staff members of the catering department carrying foods from the airline office to the aircraft are not usually screened. Officials believe the bags containing the 20kgs of cocaine may have been taken through this route.”
“The reason for this is that there is a machine that searches the cabin crew members at the airline’s office before they go to the airport terminal to board the plane. So if the suspect carried it himself, he may have been caught. A major suspect in the catering department is going through series of interrogation.”