The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, on Monday, urged the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to deny the suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, Abba Kyari, bail.
The NDLEA opposed Kyari’s bail request, on a day his wife, Ramatu, collapsed in court.
The agency, in a 21-paragraph counter-affidavit it lodged before the court, insisted that Kyari posed a flight risk.
It told the court that Kyari, who hitherto headed the Police Intelligence Response Team, IRT, would excape from the country and make himself unavailable for trial, should he be released from custody.
While adopting the counter-affidavit before trial Justice Emeka Nwite on Monday, the NDLEA, through its Director, Prosecution & Legal Services, Mr. Joseph Sunday, maintained that the former IRT boss has “tremendous influence in the Nigeria Police”, insisting that he has the capacity to interfere with its witnesses.
The Prosecution counsel told the court that bundles of exhibits marked NDLEA 1 to 5, were attached to the counter-affidavit.
“That there is a strong likelihood of the 1st to 5th Defendants/Applicants using their influence in the Police and the criminal underworld to interfere with Prosecution witnesses if released on bail.
“That financial investigation of the 1st to 5th Defendants/Applicants is also in progress by the NDLEA and they are likely to be subsequently charged with money laundering offences as there are yet-to-be explained financial transactions involving the 1st to 5th Defendants/Applicants”.
It averred that the Defendants, “are likely to tamper with financial records and interfere with the ongoing financial investigation”, adding that Kyari, failed to report to its office until he was declared wanted.
NDLEA added that one of Kyari’s alleged accomplices, ASP John Umoru a.k.a Too Much Money, “has absconded”.
However, Kyari, in his bail application that was moved by Mr. Mahmud Magaji, SAN, prayed the court to grant him bail on liberal conditions.
Arguing that the charge against him contained bailable offences, the embattled DCP, urged the court to invoke the powers donated to it by the 1999 Constitution, as amended, to exercise discretion in his favour.
The bail application was anchored on Sections 35 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as well as Section 164 and 165 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015.
The Defendant, who earlier beefed up his legal team with four SANs led by a former Attorney-General of the Federation, Kanu Agabi, SAN, argued that the Constitution provided that he must be accorded every facility to adequately prepare for his defence.
Meantime, whereas the 2nd, 4th and 5th Defendants, through their respective lawyers, also prayed the court to release them on bail, pending the determination of the case against them, the 3rd Defendant, applied for time to respond to a counter-affidavit the NDLEA filed in opposition to his bail request.
The NDLEA, equally urged the court to deny all the Defendants bail and rather okay accelerated hearing of the case.
The other Defendants in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/57/2022, were four former members of the Police IRT, ACP Sunday J. Ubia, ASP Bawa James, Insp. Simon Agirigba and Insp. John Nuhu, as well as two drug traffickers that were arrested at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu, Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne.
It will be recalled that Umeibe and Ezenwanne, who were cited as the 6th and 7th Defendants in the charge, had on March 7, when they were arraigned alongside DCP Kyari, pleaded guilty to the drug trafficking charge against them.
Following an application by the NDLEA, trial Justice Nwite, slated March 28 to review the facts of the case so as to sentence the two Defendants, accordingly.
Kyari’s lead counsel, Agabi, SAN, had contended that it would be prejudicial to his client for facts of the case to be reviewed and decision reached on it, while the trial is still subsisting.
He made reference to cases where Defendants, out of ignorance, pleaded guilty to a charge against them.
“It is not in the interest of justice for the facts to be reviewed while the trial is still ongoing”, he argued.
More so, Agabi, SAN, noted that both Umeibe and Ezenwanne were also mentioned in some counts in the charge that involved Kyari and the other accused police officers.
Before the court adjourned the matter till March 28, the NDLEA, said it was no longer willing to retain the 3rd, 4th and 5th Defendants in its custody due to their “unruly behavior”.
It told the court that the Defendants were “causing a lot of disturbances”.
“We can take the others in our custody except these three Defendants.
“But if they undertake to be of good behaviour, we have no problem, we can take them”, NDLEA’s lawyer added.
Consequently, lawyers to the three Defendants, took turns to enter an undertaking before the court, pledging that their clients would be of good behaviour “from now onwards”.
Justice Nwite said he would order the transfer of the three Defendants to a Correctional Center, should the court receive any further report of their unruly behavior.
Meanwhile, Kyari’s wife, Ramatu, fainted shortly after the court adjourned the matter for ruling.
The middle-aged woman, who wore a black Hijab, fell on the floor around 11:am, while armed operatives of the NDLEA, were leading Kyari and the others away from the court premises.
Though she appeared lifeless on the floor, she was quickly carried up and rushed inside one of the offices on the third floor of the court by some officials of the NDLEA and lawyers.
One of the officials later emerged from the office, demanding for an inhaler, even as one of the women that accompanied Ramatu to the court, hinted that she was asthmatic.
Kyari, who was initially being led out of the court premises, was brought back to assist in resuscitating his wife.
Ramatu was eventually escorted out of the court premises around 11:45am by her friends and relatives, about 15 minutes after her husband, DCP Kyari, was led out by NDLEA officials.
The NDLEA had in the charge before the court, accused DCP Kyari who hitherto headed the Police Intelligence Response Team, IRT, and the other four officers of conspiracy, obstruction and dealing in cocaine worth 17.55 kilograms.
It alleged that Kyari and his men unlawfully tampered with 21.25kg worth of cocaine that were seized from the two apprehended drug traffickers, Umeibe and Ezenwanne.
The police officers were said to have committed the offence between January 19 and 25, 2022, at the office of Inspector-General of Police (IGP) IRT, Abuja, in connivance with one ASP John Umoru (now at large), contrary to section 14(b) of the NDLEA Act, CAP N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
Kyari was said to have attempted to bribe a senior officer of the NDLEA with $61, 400. 00 at a restaurant in Abuja to prevent the testing of part of the cocaine that was seized from the two arrested drug pushers.
On the other hand, the agency alleged that the duo of Umeibe and Ezenwanne, conspired with one IK that is currently at large, to import 21.35kg of cocaine into the country without lawful authority and knowingly possessed same, and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 11(d) of the NDLEA Act, CAP N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.