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#ThrowbackThursday The narco drama of Gloria Okon's death

The story of Gloria Okon is still as enthralling as it was in 1985.

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Gloria Okon, dead or alive? play

Gloria Okon, dead or alive?


In 1985, a drug story captivated the entire country.

It was the story of the drug mule known as Gloria Okon. On April 22, 1985, Gloria Okon was arrested at the Aminu Kano International Airport with substances suspected to be heroin and narcotics.

She was on her way to England when she was caught with  56.70 grammes of the substances. Okon was also arrested with 301 dollars, 60 pounds sterling, N20,000 and 19,000 Italian lira on her.

Heroin play




According to Decree 20 of the General Buhari regime, drug trafficking attracted a death penalty. News of Gloria Okon's arrest was featured on both local and international media. Her story was sensational but it would be forever immortalised due to the events that followed her arrest. The story of Gloria Okon is a popular Nigerian conspiracy theory.

General Buhari play

General Buhari

(Premium Times )


Six days after her arrest, April 28, 1985, Gloria Okon mysteriously died in custody. Medical records stated that she died as a result of food poisoning. The story of Gloria Okon turned into a classic narco drama overnight.

Okon's mysterious death raised a lot of eyebrows in the country. Before her death, Gloria Okon gave up just one name "Bassey". She didn't give further details about his surname and his whereabouts.

A day after her arrest Gloria Okon claimed she was ill. According to records, Okon ate rice and beans on the day of her arrest. Shortly afterwards she became ill. She was taken to the hospital on April 23 and April 24 to treat her illness. From April 25-28, there are no records of Gloria Okon. No one knows what happened during these days.

Interestingly, none of her family members came to claim her body. 39 days after her death, her body was deposited at the Murtala Muhammed Hospital Mortuary

By August 1985 a judicial commission of inquiry was meant to investigate her death but by then Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida had come into power.

Nigeria's former head of state, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd) turned 73 on August 17 play

Nigeria's former head of state, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd) turned 73 on August 17


The late human rights activist and lawyer Gani Fawehinmi tried to investigate Gloria Okon's supposed mysterious death but he met a brick wall from the IBB administration.

This helped create the conspiracy theory that;

  1. Gloria Okon did not die. She was flown outside the country by her boss to start a new life.

  2. A female corpse was taken from a morgue to replace Gloria Okon.

  3. The narco drama ultimately led to the death of Dele Giwa

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