Mr Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA)’s witness in the trial of DCP Abba Kyari and others, on Thursday, indicted the operatives of the agency stationed at the Enugu International Airport.
Ezenwanne made the disclosure during a cross examined by counsel for Kyari and two others, Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, before Justice Emeka Nwite of a Federal High Court, Abuja.
Newsmen reports that Ezenwanne and Chibunna Patrick Umeibe were the two drug traffickers who smuggled cocaine into the country from Ethopua through Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
They were convicted and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment after they pleaded guilty to the three counts preferred against them by the NDLEA.
Nwite had ordered that the three counts, which attracted two-year jail term each, would run concurrently following their plea bargain agreement with the anti-narcotic agency.
They also agreed to stand as NDLEA’s witness in the trial of the five suspended police officers of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Inspector-General of Police headed by Kyari.
Other police officers include ACP Sunday Ubia, ASP Bawa James, Insp. Simon Agirigba and Insp. John Nuhu who are 2nd to 5th defendants respectively.
However, they all pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against them by the agency in the alleged cocaine deal.
At the resumed trial, Ezenwanne said though he was not a drug dealer, he had only smuggled drugs into Nigeria on two occasions.
When Ikpeazu asked him if he had ever heard about NDLEA before he was arrested on Jan. 19 by the men of the IRT, he responded in affirmative.
Ezenwanne admitted that before he travelled to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, he knew that the NDLEA operatives are stationed at all international airports to prevent drugs from being trafficked into the country.
“On the two occasions you brought drugs into Nigeria, were you arrested or stopped by NDLEA officers from bringing those drugs into Nigeria?” the senior lawyer asked
“No,” Ezenwanne, who was the sixth prosecution witness responded.
He said he had never tasted nor tested cocaine before, and that he did not weigh the two bags of cocaine
(Exhibits 7 and 8) delivered to him before he brought them into the country.
He said on his way from Addis Ababa, he had in his possession 400 dollars and N11, 000; his international passport, his bag with two or three clothes, his ticket and his phone gadget.
“When you got to the Enugu International Airport (on Jan. 19), did you see the COVID-19 agents (the NCDC officers) and Immigration agents?” Ikpeazu asked and he responded in affirmative.
“You saw other agents who directed you to a private room to search your bags?” the lawyer also asked.
Ezenwanne said: “Yes, I saw them (the agents); two men who directed me to a table for searching.”
He said when he was in Addis Ababa, the drug barons who handed him the bags of cocaine took his photograph.
When the lawyer then asked if the reason for taking his picture was to send it to those who would clear him at the point of entry in Nigeria, the convict said he didn’t know why they did that.
Ikpeazu therefore applied for the statement Ezenwanne made at the NDLEA office on Jan. 25 and read a part in the open court where the witness said: “The moment I received the stuff (cocaine) from my people, they will take my picture which they will use to clear way for me at the Enugu International Airport.”
When the lawyer further asked him if it was the statement he made, Ezenwanne said: “It is the statement I made. What I said before was not the same with want I said in court.”
Justice Nwite then admitted the Jan. 25 statement in evidence and marked it as Exhibit 15.
Ezenwanne admitted that he was told by the barons that he would need to have some money with him for “those people that will search his bag.”
He said he gave the agents at the airport N10, 000 to clear him before the police IRT officers arrested him.
Ezenwanne admitted that after they were arrested, they “pleaded with the police to pervert justice by taking all the cocaine in order to allow them go” but the IRT men stood their ground.
If they had let you go you will not have been angry with them, will you?” Ikpeazu asked.
.“No, why should I be angry with them,” he responded.
The senior lawyer also asked him if he had ever had any interaction with Kyari, the 1st defendant, throughout his ordeal, and he said, “no.”
Contrary to what Mohammed Ajia, the 4th prosecution witness and the Commander, FCT Command, said on Wednesday that 80 per cent of the substance tested positive while about 20 per cent did not, Ezenwanne said about 17.5kg which represents about 83 per cent of the substance did not test cocaine after the police handed them to the anti-narcotic agency.
Ezenwanne also said he had never had any interaction with ACP Ubia, the 2nd defendant in the matter.
Earlier when he was being led in evidence by NDLEA’s lawyer, Joseph Sunday, Ezenwanne identified in the open court ASP Bawa James, Insp. Simon Agirigba and Insp. John Nuhu who are 3rd, 4th and 5th defendants respectively.
When Sunday, who is the director of Legal and Prosecution, asked him what led him to Suleja Prison, Ezenwanne said: “What happened was that on Jan 15, 2022, I travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to bring cocaine with the help of one Iwolabi from Brazil.
“So on Jan 16, around 8:30 pm Ethiopian time, the flight coming from Brazil arrived. Few minutes after, they called me on phone.
“The first person that called me is one they called Alhaji. He called me and ask where I am. I told him to meet me at the airport lounge.
“He came and handed me over six sachets of cocaine in white cotton and left.
“The second person called me, his name is Ota and asked me the same question which I asked him to meet me at the lounge.
“And he came and handed me four sachets of cocaine in white cotton, making the sum total of 10 sachets of cocaine.
“Then he snapped me with his phone and left.,” he said. According to him, before the time, my second, Chibunna was there before me.
“So we meet there and he had already received his own (cocaine packs),” he said.
He said on Jan. 19 around 8am, they boarded a flight going to Enugu International Airport.
“When we arrived at Enugu International Airport, I was the first person to come out of the airport. I stood at the car park waiting for my second to come out.
“When he was coming towards me, one woman and two men intercepted him.
“When I looked at them, it seemed that they were having argument. As I came towards them to know what was happening, there was one car, a Siena, parked there.
“As I got there, some men jumped out of the car with guns. What I hear was that ‘I did not see this one (that is me).’”
“As they hold me, I shouted ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Is this how it is going to end?’ As they grabbed me and my second, they brought out their jackets with inscription IRT.
“They shared it among themselves and wear it. That was when we knew they were police men.
“Because of the noise we made at the airport, people gathered , they pushed us inside that car and drove us out of the airport,” he narrated
He said ASP James led the team that arrested them. Ezenwanne said despite all the offers they decided to give the police officers to free them, they did not listen to them.
“As it was happening, my second, Chibunna, begging them to leave us and carry those stuff (cocaine).
“They snapped me and him (Chibunna) and said by the time you were shouting at the airport, didn’t you know that you will beg,” he said.
The witness said the police officers contacted their boss and they were asked to transfer them to Abuja.
“So they took us in one car, a Toyota Camry, with one woman, three men.
“We left Enugu around 3:30pm, when we were moving on the way, we continue begging them.
“The team leader said we should shut up that if we talk again that he would waste us.
“So we closed our mouths, continue praying to God,” he said.
Ezenwanne said all these happened before they were handed over to the NDLEA for prosecution.