June 25, 2022

The Abuja division of the Federal High Court has sentenced two drug traffickers, Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwane, who were linked to the suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Abba Kyari, to six years imprisonment.

The NDLEA had, in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/57/2022, alleged that Kyari, who, hitherto, headed the Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT), and his men, unlawfully tampered with 21.25 kilograms worth of cocaine that they seized from the two apprehended drug traffickers, even as it also accused them of dealing in cocaine worth 17.55kg. It alleged that the police officers committed the offence between January 19 and 25, 2022, at the office of Inspector-General of Police (IGP) (IRT), Abuja, in connivance with one ASP John Umoru (now at large), contrary to section 14(b) of the NDLEA Act, CAP N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

In a judgment rendered by Justice Emeka Nwite yesterday, the court convicted Umeibe and Ezenwanne on counts 5, 6 and 7 of the drug trafficking charge brought against them by the NDLEA. The two had, upon their arraignment, pleaded guilty to the drug trafficking charge against them. They were arrested at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu, while attempting to smuggle cocaine into the country.

On March 7, 2022, they were arraigned by the anti-narcotic agency alongside DCP Kyari and four other police officers- ACP Sunday J. Ubia, Insp. Simon Agirigba, Insp. John Nuhu, and ASP Bawa James. When the case was called yesterday, for a review of facts against the defendants, the prosecution counsel and Director of Legal Department of the NDLEA, Sunday Joseph, informed the court that the agency had entered into a plea bargain with the convicts.

It was on the basis of the plea bargain that the court entered judgment against the defendants and sentenced them to two years jail term on each of the three counts brought against them.

Justice Nwite, who observed that they were remorseful, held that the sentence would run concurrently beginning from the day of their arrest.

In addition, the court held that the defendants should forfeit their international passports in accordance with section 30 of the NDLEA Act, Cap M30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.In line with the plea bargain agreement, the court okayed Umeibe and Ezenwanne to testify as witnesses in the trial of DCP Kyari and the other accused police officers, even as it ordered the NDLEA to ensure their safety in any Correctional Facility of their choice. Meanwhile, the NDLEA, is by the order of court, directed to constantly monitor the two defendants to ensure that they do not engage in any drug related criminal activity while serving their jail term.

Justice Nwite subsequently fixed July 18, 19 and 20 for full blown trial of DCP Kyari and his men, as well as for hearing of their fresh application for bail.

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