The Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA),Brig Gen Mohammed Buba Marwa (retd) has given a full account of how N6 billion worth of Captagon pills, uncovered by the agency, concealed inside a machine that was imported into the country through Apapa Port in Lagos State.
Captagon, a brand name for the drug fenethylline hydrochloride, is a codrug of amphetamine and theophylline and popular with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Nicknamed ‘the jihad drug’, it keeps users awake for long hours, dulls pain and creates a sense of euphoria.
Briefing reporters on the NDLEA’s discovery on the drug which was the first of it kind to be discovered in Sub-Saharan Africa, Gen Marwa reaffirmed the commitment of the agency to combat drug trafficking, illegal production and use.
He said the interception of the N6 billion worth of illicit drugs, which was imported from Lebanon, was a product of six months of intelligence gathering, collaboration with foreign and local partners and joint efforts with other security agencies.
‘First, let me start by sharing with you the chronology of the seizure. Sometime in March 2021, we received intel from our international partners on the shipment of illicit narcotics to Nigeria from the Middle East through the Apapa port.
The container passed through three countries and was transloaded in a North African country, but we kept track of it along with our partners,’ the NDLEA chairman stated.
‘We made the first attempts to examine the container on Thursday, August 26, 2021, and what we found inside the container were three pieces of marble polishing machines, otherwise called sanders.
‘Further scrutiny on Monday, August 31, with the NDLEA sniffer dogs turned up a positive indication on the rotor coil of one of the three machines.
‘The next day, Wednesday, September 1, 18,560 tablets of drug suspected to be Amphetamine (Captagon) weighing 3.2kg was found deeply concealed in one of the coils.
‘The following day, Thursday, September 2, the other two machines were dismantled, and in all, a total of 451, 807 tablets, weighing 74.119 kilograms, were discovered hidden inside their rotor coils.
‘Going by the street value of about $25 per tablet, the importer would have raised $11.3million, which is equivalent to N5.8 billion,’ Gen Marwa narrated.
Giving insight about Captagon, he said the tiny, highly addictive pill, widely available across the Middle East, produces a euphoric intensity in users, allowing them to stay awake for days, making them fearless, predisposes them to reckless action that puts the lives of people around them in jeopardy.
‘What should give any discerning Nigerian a nightmare concerning this drug is the fact that its production and sale is controlled by militias and large criminal groups in the Middle East.
And beyond any doubt, Captagon has been linked to the escalation of the Syrian Civil War.
A lot of seizures have been made since 2017, mostly in the Arabian Peninsula, and in Italy and Turkey, and the point of origination, almost all the time, were traced back to Syria and Lebanon.
This gave rise to the theory that ISIS is behind the production and sale of Captagon as a means of generating funds for weapons and combatants, and for use as a stimulant to keep them fighting,’ Gen Marwa said.
The NDLEA chairman concluded that it was not difficult to surmise that the destination for the seized drug was the camps of insurgents and bandits all over the country.
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