By Solomon Odeniyi
Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency have intercepted over 64, 863.5 kilogram consignments of nitrous oxide, otherwise known as ‘laughing gas’ at the Apapa seaport in Lagos and Imo states.
A statement by the spokesperson of the agency, Femi Babafemi, on Friday, said the substance was recovered following an intelligence 24 hours after the NDLEA DG ordered a nationwide clamp down on “laughing gas”.
He added that three persons had been arrested in connection with the substance.
The statement read, “Barely 24 hours after the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (retd) directed all commands and formations of the Agency to begin an immediate clampdown on the illegal sale and use of nitrous oxide, otherwise known as “laughing gas” following its abuse by people who use it for recreational purposes, over 64, 863.5 kilograms of the gaseous substance were intercepted at the Apapa seaport in Lagos and in Imo state.
“Following credible intelligence, NDLEA operatives at the Apapa seaport on Wednesday, July 12 intercepted two containers marked MSKU 7626856 and MSKU 7689448 suspected to contain cartons of nitrous oxide and plastic pressure release nozzles imported from China.
“As a result, a joint examination of the containers was carried out by NDLEA officers, men of the Customs Service, and other stakeholders the following day, Thursday, July 13. During the search of the two containers, a total of 522 cartons of Nitrous Oxide, containing 16,366 packages weighing 64,852kgs were recovered along with the paraphernalia for recreational use.
The importer of the consignment, 30-year-old Stephen Eze, and his agent, Michael Chukwuma were thereafter arrested and detained for further investigation.”
Babafemi also said operatives on Thursday intercepted three cartons containing 18 canisters of ”laughing gas” in River state.
He said, “In the same vein, NDLEA operatives on patrol along Owerri – Onitsha expressway in Imo state on Thursday 13th July intercepted three cartons containing 18 canisters of the same substance weighing 11.5kg heading to Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
“A swift follow-up operation was conducted in the stadium road area of Elekahia, Port Harcourt same day leading to the arrest of the owner of the shipment, 24-year-old Tonye Kalio. ”
While commending the officers and men of the Apapa Port, and their Imo state Command counterparts for being proactive and swift, Babafemi said Marwa directed the clampdown on the sale and usage of nitrous oxide would continue nationwide to protect young Nigerians from the devastating effects of abusing the substance.