By Mustapha Usman
Morayo Odeyemi, a Nigerian Muslim woman traveling to Saudi Arabia, may have escaped death sentence, following her arrest at Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos before embarking on a journey to the oil-rich kingdom.
Saudi Arabia ranks third in the world for execution of people involved illegal import, export, sale or possession of hard drugs, just as the country’s airports are equipped with sophisticated drug detection equipment.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, on Saturday said it arrested the 57-year old grandmother while attempting to smuggle cocaine to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
A statement signed by agency’s spokesman, Mitchell Ofoyeju, said Mrs. Odeyemi was caught at the weekend with 1.595kilograms of cocaine, two parcels of which were concealed in her luggage.
The NDLEA said the suspect was traveling to Jeddah for pilgrimage and was dressed like a pilgrim.
Mrs. Odeyemi, an indigene of Ogun State, is a textile trader at Balogun Market on the Lagos Island.
Mr. Ofoyeju explained that the drug was hidden in the false bottom of the suspect’s bag, but was discovered during a routine check on passengers at the departure hall.
He added that NDLEA officers had to cut the bag open to find the drug because it was carefully concealed.
In her statement, Mrs. Odeyemi, denied knowledge of any incriminating item in her bag, saying she did not know there was drug in the bag, as it was handed to her by a friend and customer.
“I have two children, and my daughter is married with children. Recently, I told my friend that I’d love to go on pilgrimage this year and she promised to sponsor my trip. That was how she collected my international passport, processed my travel documents and bought a return ticket on Egypt Airline.
“The only favor she requested from me was that I should take a bag to Saudi. She also told me that somebody would collect the bag from me at Jeddah. It was an empty bag, so I kept my personal effects inside it. On getting to the airport, officers discovered cocaine inside the bag during search, and I was arrested,” said Mrs. Odeyemi.
The chairman of the NDLEA, Muhammad Abdallah, described the suspect’s action as condemnable.
“Smuggling cocaine to Saudi Arabia under any guise is condemnable. It is good that she was arrested here because drug trafficking attracts capital punishment in Saudi Arabia. Apart from saving her from execution in Saudi, the prompt arrest also protected our country from disrepute. The Agency will not relent in the fight against illicit drug production, trafficking, and abuse,” he said.