NDLEA Finally Arraign Vessel, 10 Crews For Smuggling of 24kg of Cocaine

After several adjournments on the arraignment of 10 foreigners who allegedly smuggled 24 kilograms of Cocaine into Nigeria on July 6, 2023, the foreigners were finally arraigned before a Lagos Federal High Court on Monday, by the Nationals Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

The 10 foreigners who are Filipinos, Ukrainians and Estonias, were arraigned before Justice Ayokunle Faji led-court were: Krasnoperov Oleksii; Enesa Julio (Jnr) Pedrogosa; Nonan Ulysses Doria; Torino Jhundhel Adang; Alado Elpe De Pedro; Empedrado Ryan De Jesus; Liquit Niel Morris Auxtero; Akulov Oleg; Frugalidad Francis Cabaluna and Duran Nielstephen Dias.

They were arraigned alongside the owners of the vessel allegedly used in transporting the prohibited drug, the vessel MV Cooper, and the Vessel’s charterers, Sea Pioneer Limited, on a fifth amended charge of three counts bordering on conspiracy, unlawful importation and unlawful transportation of the banned substance.

Arraigning all the defendants on Monday, the prosecutor, Mr. Abu Ibrahim, informed the court that his agency has served the charge on the vessel charterers, Sea Pioneer Limited, which is outside the Court’s jurisdiction, as directed by the court. Adding that the affidavit of service to show that the charterers have been served with the charge, has been filed.

The prosecutor also told the court he has been served with the Charterers’ application that ‘no guilty plea’, be recorded for it.

The position which was confirmed by the Vessel Charterers’ lawyer, Mr. Babajide Koku (SAN), who also informed the court that his client’s application was premised on a section 378 of the administration of Criminals Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.

After the submissions made by the prosecutor and the defendants’ lawyer, Justice Faji ordered that the amended charge be read to the defendants for their plea to be taken.

Charges against the defendants read; “that you, the Owners Of Mv Cooper Island; MV Cooper Island; Sea Pioneer Ltd being the charterers of The MV Cooper Island; Krasnoperov Oleksii, being the Captain of the Vessel, Mv Cooper Island Sea Pioneer Ltd, being the charterers of the MV Cooper Island and Enesa Julio (Jnr) Pedrogosa; Nonan Ulysses Doria; Torino Jhundhel Adang; Alado Elpe De Pedro; Empedrado Ryan De Jesus; Liquit Niel Morris Auxtero; Akulov Oleg; Frugalidad Francis Cabaluna and Duran Nielstephen Dias,  being crew members of the MV Cooper Land, on or about 6 July 2023 conspired to transport 24 kilograms of Cocaine, a Narcotic Drug, from the port of Santos, State of Sao Paulo, Brazil to JOSEPDAM Port, a berthing Point under Tin Can Island Port, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 14 (b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. 

“That you The Owners Of Mv Cooper Island; Mv Cooper Island, Sea Pioneer Ltd being the charterers of The MV Cooper Island, Krasnoperov Oleksii, being the Captain of the Vessel, Mv Cooper Island Sea Pioneer Ltd, being the charterers of the MV Cooper Island and Enesa Julio (Jnr) Pedrogosa; Nonan Ulysses Doria; Torino Jhundhel Adang; Alado Elpe De Pedro; Empedrado Ryan De Jesus; Liquit Niel Morris Auxtero; Akulov Oleg; Frugalidad Francis Cabaluna and Duran Nielstephen Diasbeing crew members of the Vessel, MV Cooper Island on or about 6 July 2023 without lawful authority imported 24 kilograms of Cocaine, a Narcotic Drug, from the port of Santos, State of Sao Paulo, Brazil to Josepdam Port, a berthing Point under Tin Can Island Port, within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 20 (1)(a) and punishable under section 20 (2) (a) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. 

“That you the Owners Of Mv Cooper Island; MV Cooper Island; Sea Pioneer Ltd being the charterers of The MV Cooper Island, Krasnoperov Oleksii, being the Captain of the Vessel, Mv Cooper Island Sea Pioneer Ltd, being the charterers of the MV Cooper Island and Enesa Julio (Jnr) Pedrogosa; Nonan Ulysses Doria; Torino Jhundhel Adang; Alado Elpe De Pedro; Empedrado Ryan De Jesus; Liquit Niel Morris Auxtero; Akulov Oleg; Frugalidad Francis Cabaluna and Duran Nielstephen Dias, being crew members of the Vessel, MV COOPER ISLAND on or about 6th July 2023 without lawful authority transported 24 kilograms o Cocaine, a Narcotic Drug, from the port of Santos, State of Sao Paulo, Brazil to JOSEPDAM Port, a berthing Point under Tin Can Island Port, within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court and and thereby committed an offence Contrary to section 20(1)(a) and punishable under section 20 (2)(a) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. 

All the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Following their not guilty plea, the prosecutor, informed the court that the matter was slated for trial and that he has a witness who is available to give evidence. 

The court ordered that the witness be put in a witness box to commence his evidence.

Consequently, the prosecutor called the agency’s Exhibits Keeper, Bonny  Brinoni Wisdom, who narrated to court how the defendants, especially, the trio of Krasnoperov Oleksii; Enesa Julio (Jnr) Pedrogosa and Nonan Ulysses Doria, were brought to him with the prohibited drug by the arresting officers.

The witness also told the court how he carried out a test on the drug with United Nations Test Kits, to confirm that the seized drug was cocaine. And how took the statements of the defendants under caution.

Though, during cross-examination by the defendants lawyers who include: Femi Atoyebi, Babajide Koku and Olatunde Adejuyigbe, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) told the court that he was not among the team that arrest the defendants. The arresting officers only brought them to his office for the purposes of keeping the exhibit in their presence.

At the resumed hearing of the matter today, the prosecutor, Ibrahim Abu, further called two witnesses, Mrs. Felicia Afolabi and Matthew Bello, who are forensic Expert and Commander, Combined Criminal and Intelligence Task Force (CITF).

The two witnesses in their evidences told the court the roles they played in the arrest and investigation of the defendants.

While Mrs. Afolabi, told the court how she carried out a forensic test on the prohibited drug which it’s outcome proved to Cocaine.

Mr. Bello, the Commander of CITF, also told the court how his team arrested all the defendants at the Josepdam Port, point under Tin Can Island Port, Apapa, on their arrival from the port of Santos, State of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Meanwhile, further trial of the defendants has been adjourned to February 15.