COCAINE TRAFFICKER NARRATES HOW HE BRIBED NIGERIAN AIRPORT OFFICIALS.- SIXT-MEDIA LANE CONSULT
Emeka Ezenwanne, a convicted cocaine trafficker, on Thursday, told the Federal High Court in Abuja how he bribed security operatives at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu to smuggle cocaine into Nigeria.
Mr Ezenwanne is the fifth prosecution witness of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), in the ongoing trial of Abba Kyari who is being detained alongside four other police officers over alleged cocaine deals.
Mr Ezenwanne and Chibunna Umeibe were convicted by the judge, Emeka Nwite, in June after they pleaded guilty to importing cocaine into Nigeria from Ethiopia. The court sentenced each of the self-confessed cocaïne traffickers to two years in prison.
Testifying on Wednesday before Mr Nwite, NDLEA’s Commander in Abuja, Mohammed Ajia, admitted that his colleagues at the Enugu airport failed to arrest Messrs Umeibe and Ezenwanne when they passed through the airport on 19 January.
He made the admission during cross-examination by Mr Kyari’s lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu.
The anti-narcotics agency accuses Mr Kyari, a suspended deputy commissioner of police, and his four co-defendants of adulterating the cocaine after confiscating it from Messrs Umeibe and Ezenwanne.
The four police officers with whom Mr Kyari is now facing the charges are Sunday Ubua, an assistant commissioner of police; Bawa James, an assistant superintendent of police; Simon Agirgba, an inspector, and John Nuhu, also an inspector.
How I bribed airport security officials
Testifying on Thursday Mr Ezenwanne who is serving his jail term at the Suleja prison in Niger State, said the cocaine was initially ferried into Ethiopia from Brazil.
Led in evidence by NDLEA’s lawyer, Joseph Sunday, Mr Ezenwanne said he travelled to Addis Ababa on 15 January to receive the drugs that were coming from Brazil via Ethiopian airways
“On 16 January around 8:30 p.m Ethiopian time, the flight coming from Brazil arrived. Few minutes after, they called me on phone. The first person that called me is known as Alhaji,” he said.
He revealed that his co-convict, Mr Umeibe, had received his own parcel of cocaine before he was phoned to collect his from drug agents who were on an errand for one Owolabi.
“On that 19 January, in the morning, around 8 a.m., we boarded a flight going to Enugu international airport,” Mr Ezenwanne began.
“When we arrived at Enugu international airport, I came out from the airport. I stood at the car park waiting for my second (Mr Umeibe) to come out.”
He said trouble started when Mr Umeibe was “intercepted” by plain-clothed police operatives who were later discovered to be IRT members.
“As they grabbed me and my second, they brought out their jackets with IRT written on them. They shared it among themselves and wore it. That was when I knew that they were police.”
“At the Enugu international airport, I was asked to give money to the people that will search my bag. So I gave them N10,000 and they cleared me,” Mr Ezenwanne told the court.
After they were cleared by airport security officials, the IRT swooped on the traffickers following a tip-off.
They were subsequently flown to the IRT office in Abuja from where they were handed over to the NDLEA.
Speaking on the quantity of the cocaine seized, Mr Ezenwanne said when they arrived at the NDLEA office in Abuja, they observed only eight instead of the 10 sachets of cocaine found in their bags.
“The exhibit officer brought out all the cocaine inside my bag. The ones in sachets, both mine and the one belonging to my second, were 12 sachets. The ones in pellets were 12 cotton packs of cocaine.
While being cross-examined by Mr Kyari’s lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu, the witness said he brought cocaine into the country twice.
Mr Ikpeazu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, asked Mr Ezenwanne if he saw Mr Kyari, or had any interaction with him during the encounter with IRT operatives,
“My Lord, all through the process of my arrest, I did not have any interaction with the 1st Defendant,” he answered.
The anti-narcotics agency accuses Mr Kyari and his colleagues of illegally tampering with 21.25kilograms worth of cocaine that they seized from Messrs Umeibe and Ezenwanne.
The motive, according to the charges, was to prevent “the testing of the 17.55 kilogrammes of substance used to replace the cocaine seized from Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne.”
The offences allegedly committed by Mr Kyari and his co-defendants between 19 and 25 January are said to be contrary to and punishable under various provisions of the NDLEA Act.