A pilgrim heading to Medina, Saudi Arabia, to perform the annual pilgrimage has tested positive to narcotic ingestion at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency said in a statement Friday.
Basira Binuyo, 55, was arrested during the outward screening of passengers on an Emirate flight to Medina through Dubai.
“She has so far excreted 76 pellets of drugs that tested positive for cocaine,” said Hamisu Lawan, NDLEA commander at the Abuja airport.
“Meanwhile, she is still under observation until the drugs are completely expelled.”
Mrs. Binuyo hails from Irepodun local government area of Kwara State and is married with three children.
Mrs. Binuyo, a trader at Dosumu market, Lagos, was quoted as saying she needed money to expand her business.
“I wanted to expand my cosmetic business but I have no money,”she said. “My sponsor offered to foot my expenses to Saudi on pilgrimage. I was excited until I was asked to take drugs along.
“I wanted to decline but considering the offer of a million naira, I accepted. I swallowed the drugs in Lagos and took flight to Abuja on my way to Medina but I was caught in the process.”
The NDLEA said it also intercepted Henry Okpalanem, a 37-year-old father of three, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, who had inserted seven wraps of cocaine weighing 355 grammes into his anus.
Both suspects were going to Saudi Arabia and China respectively where drug trafficking is punishable by death.
Mr. Okpalanem was apprehended during an outward screening of passengers on an Ethiopian Airline flight to Hong Kong, China through Addis Ababa.
Ahmadu Garba, NDLEA commander at the Lagos airport, said the suspect, who hails from Imo State, holds a dual citizenship of Nigeria and Mali.
“The name on his passport is Diara Sauduo while his Nigerian name is Okpalanem Henry,” said Mr. Garba.
“The case is under investigation.”
The NDLEA said the suspect did not show any remorse upon his arrest.
“I know that there is capital punishment for drug trafficking in China but I was optimistic of safe passage,” Mr. Okpalanem had told NDLEA investigators.
“Unfortunately, I was caught with only seven wraps. Maybe that is my destiny.”
Muhammad Abdallah, NDLEA Chairman, said the arrests were commendable.
“We will continue to be on the alert in protecting all exit and entry points from drug trafficking organisations,” said Mr. Abdullah, a retired colonel.
“I am glad that the suspects were arrested here thus preventing them from untimely death and also protecting the image of our country from disrepute.”