Abba Kyari: Court grants NDLEA approval to review facts
On Thursday, a Federal High Court in Abuja approved the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency’s appeal to examine the facts of two defendants who pled guilty in the ongoing trial of suspended DCP Abba Kyari and others over an alleged cocaine deal.
In a judgment, Justice Emeka Nwite overruled the argument brought by the counsel for Kyari and other co-defendants that allowing the motion would jeopardize their case.
The two defendants are Chibunna Umeibe and Emeka Ezenwanne, who are the sixth and seventh defendants in the case, respectively.
They are the two suspected drug traffickers who were apprehended at Enugu’s Akanu Ibiam International Airport and pled guilty to five, six, and seven counts preferred by the anti-narcotics agency.
In his judgement, the judge agreed with the NDLEA and Umeibe and Ezenwanne’s lawyer that the objectors had not shown adequate evidence as to why they would be affected if the court approved the motion.
Justice Nwite agreed with the argument that holding Umeibe and Ezenwanne in jail while the other defendants were on trial would violate their right to a fair hearing under Section 36(4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
He dismissed the argument as without merit and directed the NDLEA to begin reviewing the facts of the 6th and 7th defendants’ cases.
The case was subsequently delayed until May 26 for a review of the facts and a hearing on the motion on notice.
The NDLEA had, on March 7 arraigned Umeibe and Ezenwanne alongside Kyari, ACP Sunday Ubia, ASP Bawa James, Insp. Simon Agirigba and Insp. John Nuhu on eight counts.
They were the suspended officers of the Intelligence Response Team Unit formerly led by Kyari.
They had pleaded not guilty to all the counts leveled against them.
Although Umeibe and Ezenwanne’s names were also mentioned in counts three and four where allegations bordering on conspiracy were leveled against Kyari and others, they were not ask to take a plea on these two counts.
However, shortly after the plea was taking, counsel for the NDLEA, Joseph Sunday, prayed the court to grant a leave to review the charges against Umeibe and Ezenwanne in order for the court to sentence them accordingly.
But Kanu Agabi (SAN), had objected to the prosecuting lawyer’s request, arguing that should the court convict and impose a sentence on the duo, it would jeopardise Kyari’s and the other four defendants’ case.
According to him, convicting and sentencing these two defendants who have pleaded guilty to the charge will be prejudicial to our clients case.
He contended that Umeibe and Ezenwanne might have “pleaded guilty out of ignorance.”
Besides, he said the fact that their names were also mentioned in counts three and four made the matter worse.
He pleaded with the court to put the sentence and conviction of the two defendants on hold, pending the determination of the matter.
After taking arguments from lawyers to the parties, Justice Nwite had adjourned the matter until Thursday for ruling.
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