A 45-year-old ambulance driver, Michael Ajibade, attached to Medbury Medical Company and his escort, one Olatunde Emmanuel, have been arrested while attempting to smuggle N2. 8 million worth of Tramadol out of the Lagos Port Complex.
It was learnt that the ambulance used was supposed to be stationed at the port to provide emergency medical services and rescue operations to injured or sick dockworkers.
The Customs Area Controller, Apapa Area Command, Comptroller Abba Kura, who confirmed the arrest of the suspects said the ambulance carrying the banned substance was intercepted at the gate of the port by customs officers on duty.
Kura said the ambulance was on top speed and with its siren blaring and that the driver was pretending to be on emergency call as at the time it was intercepted.
He said: “Those behind the failed attempt to bring in cartons of Tramadol are saboteurs with some internal collaborators. On Friday, July 12, 2019, at about 11pm, my officers on routine surveillance intercepted an ambulance (Hyundai) with registration number LND 605 XW Lagos, suspected to be laden with offending articles of trade.
“Upon examination, the said ambulance was discovered to be carrying 10 cartons of 225kg Tramadol tablets valued at N2,814,139. Two suspects named: Michael Ajibola (driver), and Olatunde Emmanuel (escort) were arrested along with the ambulance.
“Furthermore, an investigation into the source of the stolen Tramadol revealed that the drugs were pilfered from an undeclared container. Physical examination further revealed that 211 cartons of the drugs were missing from the container,” he said.
The Controller further stated that while the customs was working round the clock to free the country of illicit goods, some recalcitrant and unpatriotic citizens were not relenting in their desperate urge to sabotage the efforts of officers.
I was offered N2,000 to smuggle the drugs out of the port – Suspect
In his confessional statement, Ajibade, who is the driver of the ambulance, said he was offered the sum of N2,000 to move the illicit substance out of the port.
He said: “It was one Yusuf who contracted me to move the items out of the port using my ambulance. I was at the car wash located inside the port when he approached me. He told me that it was cartons of soap and offered to pay me N2,000. I saw it as an easy way to make quick money. I never knew that I will be caught. I beg the government to forgive me, I did it out of ignorance and with the urge to make ends meet.”
One his part, the escort who was identified as Olatunde Emmanuel said he is a dockworker and that he was offered N50,000 to follow the ambulance driver out of the gate.
“My job is to follow the ambulance driver so that he will not run away with the consignment. The owner met me at the car wash and offered to pay me N50,000. He told me that the content of the cartons was soap. I was shocked when it turned out to be Tramadol,” he said.