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The Chairman of Mallinson Group, Chief Afam Mallinson Emmanuel Ukatu, has been arrested by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) over allegations of dealing in hard drugs.
This was contained in a statement issued on Monday by NDLEA Media Director, Femi Babafemi.
According to the statement, Ukatu, who was described as a billionaire drug baron, is said to be behind the N3 billion Tramadol deal involving suspended police chief, Abba Kyari.
He was arrested at the MM2 terminal of the Lagos airport in Ikeja after months of surveillance and evading arrest.
The agency said the suspect has been a major importer of large consignments of different brands and high dosages of Tramadol Hydrochloride, ranging from 120mg, 200mg, 225mg and 250mg.
Ukatu owns pharmaceutical and plastic manufacturing companies, which he allegedly 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,” Babafemi noted.
Ukatu came under watch in 2021, a year after five cartons of Tramadol 225mg were seized from his staff on 4th May 2021.
He had sent them to sell to undercover police officers (unknown to Ukatu), from the then Kyari-led IRT, in Lagos.
The price of a carton of Tramadol was negotiated at N17 million each as against the then black-market value that ranged between N18 million and N20 million a carton.
Meanwhile, after the arrest of Ukatu’s staff, Pius Enidom and Sunday Ibekwete, Kyari’s men were led to Mallinson’s warehouse at Ojota in Lagos where 197 additional cartons of Tramadol 225mg were seized by the IRT.
The monetary value of the 202 cartons of Tramadol seized from Mallinson in one day was over N3 billion.
Three weeks after the seizure, the Kyari’s 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. 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.