Illicit Drug: Court Ruling On Billionaire, Ukatu Mallinson, Bail Application Suffers Setback
The scheduled ruling on the bail application of a Nigerian billionaire, Ukatu Afamefuna Mallison, who was charged for alleged unlawful dealing in hard drug, could not go on, today, as information from the court revealed that the ruling on the bail is yet to be ready.
Mallinson, who is also an industrialist, was linked to the suspended Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Abba Kyiari in an alleged N3billion drug deal
Mallison alongside one of his employees, Sunday Ifeanyi Ibekwute, were arraigned before Justice Lifu led-court, last Friday, on a four-count charge of conspiracy, unlawful dealing, possession and trafficking on 322 kilograms of Tramadol, a banned drug. While the first defendant in the charges, Pius Enidom, has jumped bail, but a warrant of arrest already slammed on him by the court.
On arrival at the court today, parties, the defendants counsel, relations, associates of Mallinson and Ibekwute and the journalists, who had come for the ruling were disappointed when they discovered that the matter was not listed for the day.
The court Registrars told the counsel and the prosecutor that the that the ruling is yet to be ready and that they would be called once it is ready.
Justice Peter Lifu on last Friday fixed today, for ruling after the arraignment of the defendants and subsequent hearing of their bail applications by counsel to the defendants led by Mr. Victor Opara, (SAN) leading other lawyers, moved thier clients bail application on behalf of their clients, while Mrs Theresa Azuquo, the prosecutor, adopted her counter affidavit for NDLEA.
It would be recalled that the Court, had remanded Ukatu and Ibekwute in the facility of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCoS) Ikoyi Lagos till today when ruling on the bail applications would be determined.
The judge remanded the two defendants, sequel to their plea of not guilty to the charges of conspiracy, trafficking in 322 kilograms of Tramadol, unlawful dealing and possession of the said banned drug made against them by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
Both Ukatu and Sunday were arraigned before the court for the above alleged offences, which the prosecutor, Mrs. Theresa Asuquo, said contravened Sections 14(b); 11 and 11(b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Act Cap N30 Laws of the Federal on Nigeria (LFN) 2004.
NDLEA had in the charge marked FHC/L/159c/2021, alleged that Ukatu, Ibekute and one Pius Enidom, who has absconded after he was granted bail, on May 4, 2021, conspired among themselves to traffick and Unlawful possessing and dealing in 322 kilograms of Tramadol.
The two defendants denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Upon their plea of not guilty, the counsel, Mr. Victor Opara (SAN) while moving their bail application, urged the court to admit them to bail in the most liberal terms.
Opara (SAN) while citing plethora of legal authorities and sections of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution, argued that his clients are presumed innocent of the charges against them until contrary is proven.
He also told the court that the first defendant, Ukatu Mallinson, is an industrialist who is in partnership with the Nigerian Airforce, and has numerous workers and that the second defendant, Ibekute is one of Ukatu’s employee.
He assured the court that his clients will not jump bail if granted.
But the prosecutor, Mrs. Asuquo, urged the court to declined granting the application, on the ground that they are flight risk.
In urging the court to declined granting the bail appllication, the prosecutor asked the court to take a critical look at some paragraphs of the agency’s counter affidavit to the defendants’ bail appllication.
Justice Lifu, while adjourning the matter till today, July 18, for ruling on the bail applications, ordered that both the billionaire businessman and the other defendant be remanded in NCoS’ custody.
The judge also issued a Bench warrant against Pius Enidom, who had jump bail and failed to appear in court despite be issued hearing notice.
Earlier on Friday, before the defendants’ arraignment, who have being detained in the NDLEA’s custody since April 16, there was a heated arguments between the defence team and the prosecutor, over failure of the NDLEA to produce the defendants in court as ordered by the presiding judge at the last hearing of the matter.
The development, made the judge, who frown at the NDLEA’s disobedience to his orders, to produce the defendants, stood down the matter and ordered NDLEA to produce the defendants to court, for their plea to be taken.