By Femi Babafemi
Billionaire drug baron behind the 3 billion naira Tramadol deal involving the embattled suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari-led Intelligence Response Team, IRT, Chief Afam Mallinson Emmanuel Ukatu has been arrested by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA.
After months of surveillance and evading arrest, Ukatu who is Chairman of Mallinson Group of Companies was eventually nabbed onboard a flight to Abuja at the MM2 terminal of the Lagos airport, Ikeja on Wednesday 13th April.
Investigations reveal he’s been a major importer of large consignments of different brands and high dosages of Tramadol Hydrochloride, ranging from 120mg, 200mg, 225mg and 250mg, all of which are illicit.
Ukatu owns pharmaceutical and plastic manufacturing companies, which he 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.
Ukatu came under watch last year after five cartons of Tramadol 225mg were seized from his staff on 4th May 2021 when he sent them to sell to undercover police officers (unknown to Ukatu) from the then Kyari-led IRT of the Nigeria Police, Ikeja Lagos.
The price of a carton of Tramadol was negotiated at 17 million naira each as against the then black market value that ranged between 18 million naira and 20 million naira a carton in Lagos.
After the arrest of Ukatu’s staff: Pius Enidom and Sunday Ibekwete, Kyari’s men were then led by the suspects to Mallinson’s warehouse at Ojota in Lagos where 197 additional Cartons of Tramadol 225mg were seized by the IRT Team. The monetary value of the 202 cartons of Tramadol seized from Mallinson in one day was over 3 billion naira.
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.
@views exclusive rights: Femi Babafemi
Director, Media and Advocacy, NDLEA Headquarters, Abuja, Monday 25th April 2022.