By Uche Amunike
Officers of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have arrested billionaire Mallinson Afam Ukatu for allegedly being involved in the N3bn Tramadol deal involving the suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari-led Intelligence Response Team (IRT).
According to the NDLEA Spokesman, Femi Babafemi, Monday, in Abuja, the billionaire, who is the Chairman of Mallinson Group of Companies was eventually arrested while onboard a flight to Abuja at the MM2 terminal of the Lagos Airport, Ikeja on April 13, after months of surveillance and evading arrest.
Hear him: ‘Investigations reveal he has 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,’ Babafemi explained.
He further reiterated that about a year ago, Ukatu came under the watch of the NDLEA in 2021, after 5 cartons of Tramadol 225mg was seized from his staff members (Pius Enidom and Sunday Ibekwete on May 4 2021 after he sent them to sell to undercover police officers (unknown to him) from the former Kyari-led team of the Nigeria Police, Ikeja, Lagos.
The price of a carton of Tramadol, according to him, was negotiated at N17m each, unlike the then black market value which ranged between N18 and N20m per carton, in Lagos.
He further stated that it was after those two members of staff of Mallinson Afam Ukatu were arrested that policemen were led by the suspects to the billionaire’s warehouse at Ojota in Lagos, where additional cartons of Tramadol 225mg were confiscated by the IRT.
He placed the monetary value of the 202 cartons of tramadol seized from the billionaire in one day to be over N3bn, adding that after 3 weeks of seizing the drugs, Kyari’s IRT team transferred a total of 12 cartons with one truck and one of the suspects to the Lagos Command of the NDLEA, leaving 190 cartons unaccounted for.
Eight months after following the lead, Ukatu was picked up by the anti-narcotic officers of the Agency.
On his part, Kyari and four top members of his team are already been tried for a similar offence at a Federal High Court in Abuja.
Mallinson Afam Ukatu is also the Managing Director of Nigeria’s first indigenous floor tiles and PVC manufacturing company located in Ogun state and other parts of the country, Nispon Porcelain Company Limited.
He is also the Executive Chairman and Founder of Mallinson and Partners limited. He is reportedly the Director in Cowry Assets and Management; a Director at Master Energy Oil and Gas Limited; Director Urban Space Services Director, Alor Microfinance Bank Limited.
The NDLEA alleges that Ukuatu used his plastic manufacturing companies and pharmaceutical companies as a cover to import illicit drugs into Nigeria, apart from operating 103 bank accounts most of which are used to launder money.