The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, convicted and sentenced two co-defendants in a suit filed by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) against suspended deputy commissioner of police, Abba Kyari, over an alleged drug deal to two years imprisonment.
The judge, Emeka Nwite, in a judgment, said having admitted to have committed the offences preferred against them in counts 5, 6 and 7, Chibunna Umeibe and Emeka Ezenwanne, who are the 6th and 7th defendants, “are hereby convicted accordingly.”
Mr Nwite thereafter sentenced them to two years imprisonment on each of counts 5, 6 and 7.
He said the terms, which shall run concurrently, would commence from the day the defendants were arrested by the NDLEA.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two defendants, Umeibe and Ezenwanne, who are 6th and 7th defendants respectively in the matter, are the two alleged drug traffickers arrested at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu by the Nigerian police and handed over to the NDLEA.
They had pleaded guilty to counts 5, 6 and 7 preferred against them by the anti-narcotic agency.
The anti-narcotic agency had, on March 7, 2022, arraigned the seven defendants, including Mr Kyari, on eight charges of conspiracy, illegal dealing in cocaine, importation of cocaine and obstruction.
Four of the defendants are members of the Intelligence Response Team, which Mr Kyari headed until his suspension following his indictment for fraud in the United States last year.
The two others, who are non-police officers, are Messrs Umeibe and Ezenwanne, who were accused of importing 21.35kg of cocaine into Nigeria via the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, Enugu State, on January 19, 2022.
Their lawyer, E. U. Okenyi, had defended the decision of his clients to plead guilty to the crime.
Mr Kyari’s lead lawyer, Kanu Agabi, opposed the prosecution’s application for a review of facts and subsequent sentencing of the defendants, saying it would jeopardise his client’s defence.
But the two defendants’ lawyer as well as the prosecuting counsel opposed it.
“The arguments of the defendants are speculative. They have not raised any facts or evidence indicating that reviewing the facts of the case will be prejudicial to their defence,” NDLEA’s prosecuting counsel, Joseph Sunday, argued.
NDLEA prosecutors accused Mr Kyari and the four IRT members of illicit dealing in 21.35kg of cocaine between January 19 and 25, 2022, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under section 11(c) of the NDLEA Act.
In one of the charges, the anti-narcotic agency alleged that Mr Kyari and the four IRT operatives illicitly tampered with 21.35kg of cocaine by removing 17.55 kg of it and “substituting same with some other substance”. The offence is said to be contrary to and punishable under section 14(b) of the NDLEA Act.
The prosecutors also accused Mr Kyari, in a count which features only him as the sole defendant, of attempting to obstruct the NDLEA and its authorised officers by offering $61,400 to a senior anti-narcotics operative as an inducement to prevent the testing of the 17.55kg of cocaine.
In three of the counts, Messrs Umeibe and Ezenwanne were accused of importing 21.35kg of cocaine into Nigeria via the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, Enugu State, on January 19, 2022.
Meanwhile, another judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Inyang Ekwo, had on June 3 fixed August 29 for judgement on the suit seeking the extradition of Mr Kyari to the United States of America to face fraud charges.
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