WHEN he swallowed the banned drugs in order to evade detection and the law, 34-year-old Lagos commercial bus driver, Ozoani Edwin, did not know he had signed his death warrant.
On return to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Nigeria, from Brazil aboard a South African airline flight, Ozoani, upon being screened was discovered to have tested positive to drug ingestion and was placed on observation.
He soon excreted 10 wraps of substances weighing 180 grammes that tested positive to cocaine.
But, while still under observation, he began to complain of severe stomach pain and was rushed to the hospital where he eventually died.
According to National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) spokesman, Mr. Mitchell Ofoyeju, a post-mortem examination revealed that he died because one of the wraps of cocaine he had ingested ruptured in his stomach.
Worried by the apparent non-deterrence to potential drug traffickers by the present stipulated punishment, the NDLEA Chairman, Alhaji Ahmadu Giade, has renewed his call for stiffer penalties for drug trafficking.
According to Giade, who expressed shock at the increasing desperation of drug peddlers: “Until we get the penalty right, drug trafficking will remain attractive. Every case of drug trafficking involving Type A drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine runs into several millions of naira. We , therefore, wield the big stick against offenders to serve as deterrence. I am optimistic that adherence to stringent bail conditions and minimum of 15 years jail term will turn the tide”.
The anti-drug agency boss described the death of the suspected peddler as sad and painful.
His words: “This death is sad and painful. The deceased would have been alive to face trial and ultimately given opportunity to learn from his mistakes. I urge members of the public to shun drug trafficking and make quality choices that will enable them maximize their destinies”.
The NDLEA Airport Commander, Hamza Umar added that the family members of the deceased have applied for the body of the suspect to be released to them after the autopsy.
“Following the sad incident, we made contact with the family members. They also witnessed the operation where the ruptured wrap of cocaine that killed their son was recovered from his stomach. The Agency has also granted their request for the corpse to be released to them,” Hamza explained.
Preliminary investigation showed that the deceased, Ozoani, travelled to Brazil in search of greener pastures on March 3, 2012. He told investigators that the drug deal was not in his plan when he left the country.
According to his statement before he gave up the ghost: “I am a bus driver and I came to Lagos in 2000. I was able to save N850,000 that I used in travelling to Brazil in search of a better job. The condition I met in Brazil was unbearable. I had language problem and also had no work permit. I suffered until a Brazilian lured me into the drug deal as a last resort because I was almost stranded”.
The deceased, who hailed from Enugu State, attended Nwueodobo Primary School Ngwo and Christ High School Abor both in Enugu State. He lived in the Ejigbo area of Lagos before his death.