By TAIYE AGBAJE
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), on Monday, accused three co-defendants, in the alleged drug trafficking case against suspended DCP Abba Kyari and others, of being unruly while in its custody.
NDLEA lawyer and director, Prosecution and Legal Services, Joseph Sunday, made the allegation before Justice Emeka Nwite of a Federal High Court, Abuja.
The development came shortly after Justice Nwite fixed March 28 for ruling on the bail application of the defendants, including Kyari.
Sunday, who told Justice Nwite that ASP Bawa James, Insp. Simon Agirigba and Insp. John Nuhu did not conduct themselves well while in their custody, prayed the court to make an order transferring them to a correctional centre.
“The 3rd to 5th defendants were very unruly while in our custody,” he said, urging the court to make an order for their transfer.
He said if they were ready to undertake to be of good conduct, the agency would be ready to admit them back in its custody.
But counsel for the 3rd defendant (ASP Bawa James), Michael Mbanefo, expressed surprised at Sunday’s remark.
N. Y. Chiwar, lawyer to Insp. Simon Agirigba and Insp. John Nuhu (4th and 5th defendants), informed that the allegation was due to the difficult of members of their families having access to them.
Chiwar, who undertook that the defendants would be of good behaviour, prayed the court to allow them to continue to be kept in NDLEA custody.
Ruling, the judge held that in view of the undertaking by their counsel to the effect that they would be of good behaviour while in custody, “I am minded to grant the prayer.”
Nwite, however, said that if there was any report contrary to the undertaking, he would revoke the order.
Earlier, Mahmud Magaji, SAN, counsel for Kyari and Ubia, told the court that a bail application was filed in respect of his clients.
Magaji, who said the offences with which Kyari and Ubia are being charged are bailable ones, also said that the constitution gave the court the discretionary power to do so.
He urged the judge to grant the bail on liberal terms.
He based his argument on the presumption of innocence of Kyari and Ubia as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution, until the court decides otherwise.
The lawyer argued that the law provides that the defendants be given an opportunity, time and space to prepare for their defence.
“The presumption of innocence granted to every accused person will be lost if the defendants are denied bail.
“The defendants have undertaken to be present in court throughout the duration of their trial,” he further argued.
However, counsel to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Joseph Sunday, a director of Prosecution and Legal Services, opposed the bail application.
Corroborating, counsel for the 4th and 5th defendants, Chiwar, argued that “issues of defence involves sober reflection, and the defendants’ prolonged incarceration will deny them that right to ample time and facilities to defend themselves.”
He also urged the court to admit then to bail.
But, the lawyer to the 3rd defendant, Mbanefo, could not move his client’s bail application due to late service of NDLEA’s counter affidavit to his bail request.
Reacting, NDLEA’s lawyer, Sunday, prayed the court to refuse the bail request by Kyari and all the other defendants.
He said their reasons for opposing the application were in paragraph 3.5 of their counter affidavit.
After listening to the arguments of all the lawyers in the suit, the judge adjourned the case until March 28 for ruling on the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th defendants’ bail application.
He, however, fixed March 28 for hearing a bail application by 3rd defendant.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that while Kyari is the 1st defendant; ACP Sunday J. Ubia, ASP Bawa James, Insp. Simon Agirigba and Insp. John Nuhu are 2nd to 5th defendants in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/57/2022.
The police officers, including Kyari, were four members of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT), who pleaded not guilty to the eight-count charge bordering on alleged drug trafficking.
But Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne are the 6th and 7th defendants respectively, who pleaded guilty to counts five, six and seven preferred against them.
Umeibe and Ezenwanne are the two alleged drug traffickers that were arrested at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu. (NAN)