By Francis IWUCHUKWU
The trial of a Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Ministeries’ member, Osondu Christian and a Brazil Returnee, Okafor Okwudili Moses alongside three others was on Thursday fixed for March 31, 2022.
The date was arrived at by a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria, presided over by Justice Daniel Osiagor after the defendants were arraigned by the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, for unlawful dealing in a total of 5.75 Kilograms of combined hard drugs of heroin and cocaine.
Other defendants arraigned alongside Osondu and Okafor are; Udeh Onyeka Victor; Abanijo Innocent Isioma and Ihator Theophilus.
The defendants were arraigned on two separate charges. While Osondu, Udeh; Abanijo and Ihator were arraigned on a four-count charge of conspiracy, unlawful importation and unlawful possession of 3.2 Kilograms of heroin, Okafor was separately arraigned on a two-count charge of unlawful importation and possession of 2.55 Kilograms of cocaine.
In arraigning the defendants on Thursday, the NDLEA through its lawyer, Abu Ibrahim, told the judge that Osondu and the other three defendants committed the offence between November 4 and 5, 2021.
The NDLEA further hinted to the court that Osondu conspired with one Udeh Clement, both based in South Africa and smuggled in the said hard drugs.
While adding that Osondu was arrested during the inward clearance of Air Peace flight from Johannesburg, South Africa, at the E-Arrival Hall of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja-Lagos, Ibrahim revealed that the trio of Udeh; Abanijo and Ihator conspired with both Udeh Clement and Chinedu Oseki (both based in South Africa) to distribute the banned drug in Nigeria.
The NDLEA prosecutor further told the court that Brazil-based Okafor Okwudili Moses, who was arrested on November 13, 2021, conspired with one Awuga, who is also based in Brazil but now at large, to unlawfully import 2.55 Kilograms of cocaine.
The lawyer insisted that the offences committed by all the defendants are contrary to and punishable under Sections 14(b), 11(a) and 11(b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap. N30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
But the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.
This prompted the prosecution to ask the court for a trial date and that they should be remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services, NCoS.
However, the defendants’ lawyer, Benson Ndakara asked the court to admit them to bail in the most liberal terms.
In ruling on their bail application, Justice Osiagor admitted them to bail in the sum of N5 million with one surety each.
The judge added that the surety must be defendants’ relations, and must have landed property within the court’s jurisdiction.
The judge also ordered the defendant to always report at NDLEA’s office every three days before trial dates.
Justice Osiagor while adjourning the defendants’ trial till March 31, 2022, ordered that all the defendants be remanded in NCoS’ custody till the fulfilment of the bail term.
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