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From Brazil with Cocaine: How a dream wedding collapsed at Lagos airport

Ezennia Christian Okwui, 39, had arrived the airport aboard a South African airline from Brazil only to be arrested by NDLEA operatives shortly after the…

Ezennia Christian Okwui, 39, had arrived the airport aboard a South African airline from Brazil only to be arrested by NDLEA operatives shortly after the screening machine had raised an alarm, indicating that Okwui might be carrying something the machine did not approve of. Efforts by the lady to welcome her groom were frustrated by the operatives who led him away into their search room for further scrutiny.

But Ngozi could not hold herself as she broke down in tears when she was told that 53 grams of cocaine were found in the canvass of her newly wedded husband. She immediately collapsed and fainted when Okwui, now in handcuffs and held on both sides of his trousers, was brought out of the screening room and taken to where he was to be detained while his case was being investigated.

When the lady was revived, she told Sunday Trust that her disappointing experience was the handiwork of her detractors back at home. “People are wicked. I know some people do not want me to travel out. They do not want me to progress at all. The wicked ones are at work again! My people warned me not to let anybody know that Ezennia was coming to take me to Brazil, but I did not adhere to the advice. Look at what is happening now!

“Ezennia and I agreed that I should organise a reception for him. The reception was to take place in the village tomorrow. Everybody knows we are travelling to Brazil together next week. I know some people do not like it and they must do everything to scuttle the plans. We have already bought drinks and invited drummers. The stage is set for the reception. See what our enemies are doing now to disgrace me,” she cried.

Ngozi said she had already printed cards and distributed to her friends, including the students of Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka in Anambra State from where she graduated. She said she had hinged her hope of making it in life on her husband. She said she had already obtained an international passport in readiness for the trip.

But Okwui, who said he had lived in Brazil for over seven years, alleged that his Brazilian girlfriend with whom he had lived, was responsible for his ordeal. He admitted that he had earlier promised to marry her but later decided to marry a Nigerian (Ngozi), a development that made the Brazilian lady very angry, and threatened to deal with him.

“I strongly suspect my Brazilian girlfriend whom I did not marry to be responsible for my ordeal. She sent hoodlums to attack me in my house in Brazil but I escaped. I am sure she was the one that leaked the information to the authorities that I always travel with drugs and that information was communicated to the NDLEA who set up this trap for me. I am sure she is the one that planned this against me,” he said.

Okwui said he came to Nigeria to take his bride to Sao Paulo where he lived. According to him he was in jewellery trade and owned two shops in Brazil. Okwui claimed to have a valid residence permit in Brazil, thanks to his Brazilian girlfriend.

But the NDLEA Commander at the Lagos airport, Mr. Victor Cole-Showers, who was not categorical on whether the agency was actually hinted by any foreign partner on the movement and activities of Okwui. He said the agency possessed the latest model machine for detecting illicit drugs. It was donated to it by the United States government.

He said Okwui would  be charged to court as soon as undercover agents of the agency concluded their investigations on the suspect. He said Okwui was helping the agency with useful information on global illicit drug business.      

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of NDLEA, Mr Mitchell Ofuyeju, said there were clear indications that Okwui was a habitual drug peddler who must explain to the agency his past deeds. He said the agency would be interested in knowing his contacts in Nigeria.

But Miss Augustina Onyeakusi, who was with Ngozi at the airport told Sunday Trust  that neither the bride nor herself knew that Okwui had anything to do with drugs. “I know that he visits Nigeria from time to time and whenever he comes Ngozi would invite me to go and see him. He is a nice guy, he is so caring. I just hope they will let him go.

“I am sure Ngozi is so worried because she doesn’t know how to explain to the crowd waiting for us at home that we could not return home with Okwui. You know, when we were leaving home, it was like we were going to come back with the only man of the society. All the boys and girls, and even the elders are there waiting to see our arrival and how the ceremony goes,” she said.

Efforts by the bride and her acquintances to confer with the suspect were frustrated by NDLEA operatives. The bride was prevented from seeing her groom on the excuse that Okwui was writing a voluntary statement to the agency, hence he must not be obstructed. It was not clear if the bride succeeded in seeing her detained groom before leaving Lagos for the village.