By Henry Ugochukwu
Justice Emeka Nite of an Abuja Federal High Court on Tuesday sent to prison, two drug traffickers, Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwane, who were linked to the suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, Abba Kyari.
The duo were convicted and sentenced to six years imprisonment on counts 5, 6 and 7 of the drug trafficking charge slammed against them by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA.
It would be recalled that Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwane who were arrested at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu while attempting to smuggle cocaine into the country, were on March 7 arraigned before the court alongside DCP Kyari and four other police officers – ACP Sunday J. Ubia, Insp. Simon Agirigba, Insp. John Nuhu, and ASP Bawa James.
But both Umeibe and Ezenwanne had upon their arraignment, pleaded guilty to the drug trafficking charge made against them.
Though Justice Nwite initially adjourned to review the facts of the case against them, however, at the resumed proceedings today, the NDLEA, through the Director of its Legal Department, Sunday Joseph, informed the court that it has entered into a plea bargain agreement with the two defendants.
Joseph, therefore, persuaded the court to adopt the terms of the plea bargain deal as its judgement against the defendants.
This prompted the judge to convict and sentence the duo to two years jail term on each of the three-count charges against them.
The judge held that the convicts were remorseful, just as he held that the sentence would run concurrently, commencing from the date they were arrested.
He also directed that the defendants should forfeit their international passports following Section 30 of the NDLEA Act, Cap M30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
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 21.25kilograms worth of cocaine that they seized from the two apprehended drug traffickers, even as it also accused them of dealing in cocaine worth 17.55 kg.
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.
Besides, Kyari was said to have attempted to bribe a senior officer of the NDLEA with $61, 400. 00 at a restaurant in Abuja to prevent the testing of part of the cocaine that was seized from the two arrested drug pushers.
On the other hand, the agency alleged that Umeibe and Ezenwanne, conspired with one IK that is currently at large, to import 21.35 kg of cocaine into the country without lawful authority and knowingly possessed same, and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 11(d) of the NDLEA Act, CAP N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
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