Court Clears 3 Nigerians, Firms Of Smuggling 43.1kg Of Cocaine Allegations

Relieve came the way of three Nigerians, Tobi Ojo, Kunle Animashaun and Peter Odigie Ozasuwa, who has been standing trial before a Lagos Federal High Court, for bringing into Nigeria 43.1 kilograms of Cocaine without lawful authority, as they were discharged and acquitted of the charges by the court.

The three Nigerians were freed by the court presided over by  Justice Ayokunle Ayokunle Faji, alongside a limited liability company, Oilways Logistics and Energy Limited.

The men alongside seven Indians, who have been earlier discharged and acquitted by the court, where arraigned before the court by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), on charges of conspiracy and unlawful importation of 43.1 kilograms of Cocaine into the country.

The seven Indians freed by the court on November 7, 2022, were: Singh Vikash; Kunnaserypallam Ashraf Inzam; Xaiver Fernando Santhanaria; Mandal Surjeet Ashok; Tandel Pratikkumar Pravinbai and Barthwal Rohan Sunil.

They were freed after their No-Case-Submission filed by their respectively lawyers, was upheld by the court.

All the freed men were arrested during the evacuation of the imported sugar at the Greenview Development Nigerian Limited (GDNL), a company owned by Dangote Ports Operations and were charged to the court by the NDLEA on July 9, 2021, on charges bordering on conspiracy and unlawful Importation of 41. 1 kilograms.

They were accused of committing committed alongside one Franklyn Pereowei Godwin, said to be at large.

The freed men were accused of bringing in the banned substance from Brazil, in a vessel named MV Spar Scorpio.

They were accused of smuggling the prohibited substance by hidden it inside the sugar brought in from Brazil by the vessel, on February 8, 2021, at the Tincan Port, Apapa, Lagos.

The offences according to the prosecuting team led by Mrs. Theresa Asuquo, Section 11(a) and 14(b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Act Cap N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004, and punishable under the same Act

During the trial of the freed men, the prosecution, NDLEA, through its lawyers who include: Mrs. Theresa Asuqou, Fingere Owen Dennis and Paul Awogbuyi, called about 20 witnesses and tendered several exhibits.

Among the exhibits tendered which were admitted by the court includes; the men written statements, laboratory test analysis reports, and bulk of the banned substance.

At the end of prosecution case, all the freed men, through their lawyers, filed No-Case-Submission, but the presiding Judge, upheld the seven indians’ No-Case-Submission, and they were discharged and acquitted on November 7, 2022. But the three Nigerians and the company, were ordered to open their defence against the allegations.

However, on Friday, Justice Faji, in his judgment in the suit, also discharged and acquitted the Nigerians and the company, on the ground that all the evidence before the court shown that they are not culpable of the charges against them.

The judge held that the prosecution failed in bringing the main ‘accused’ before the court.

It would also be recall that Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the same division of the court, had on July 17, discharged and acquitted 11 Filipinos Accused Of Smuggling 13.65Kg of Cocaine into Nigeria.

The Filipinos freed from the allegation were: Gerapusco Fidel; Antolin Reynante; Bechayoa Edgar; Voltaire Tejero, Kent Ryan; Bryan Kamos; Ralph Christopher; Maningo Dennis; Romnick Albarracin; Ervin Pabuaya and Quetua Judezar Servilla.

They were of the allegation, after the judge upheld their No-Case-Submission (NCS) filed and argued by their lawyers, who include; Femi Atoyebi, Babajide Koku, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).

The 11 Filipinos, according to the NDLEA were arrested at the same Greenview Development Nigerian Limited (GDNL) Terminal, Apapa Port, Lagos, on November 7, 2022, with the banned substance which they smuggled into the country from Brazil.