Cocaine trafficking: Court sentences two drug kingpins to life imprisonment

…as NDLEA intercepts Italy-bound illicit consignment

A court has sentenced two notorious drug kingpins, Uwaezuoke Ikenna Christian and Agbo Chidike Prince to life imprisonment for dealing in cocaine.

National Drug Law Enforcement Agency disclosed this in a statement on Sunday.

The Agency’s Director, Media and Advocacy, NDLEA Headquarters Abuja, Femi Babafemi, in the statement on Sunday, said this brings to an end their years of criminal enterprise of exporting cocaine across continents.

He said the two drug barons were arrested and diligently prosecuted, leading to their conviction.

According to Babafemi, “For 43-year-old businessman Uwaezuoke, his journey to a lifetime in jail began when he was first arrested by NDLEA operatives on 19th March 2022 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja during the inward clearance of Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia after he was found to have ingested 100 big wraps of cocaine weighing 2.243 kilograms.

“He was subsequently arraigned at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division in charge number FHC/ABJ/CR/438/2022 and was granted bail on certain conditions after he pleaded not guilty. He thereafter absconded, leading the court to revoke his bail and issue an arrest warrant against him.

“In a curious twist, Uwaezuoke was again arrested by NDLEA operatives on 1st August 2023, at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, while attempting to export 1.822 kilograms of cocaine to India through ingestion using a different passport and under a different name, Ilonzeh Kingsley Onyebuchi.

“He was again arraigned before Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division in charge number FHC/L/554C/2023. He pleaded guilty to the two counts charge and was convicted and sentenced on 18th October 2023 to a total term of seven years of imprisonment or a fine of ₦1, 500,000.00. He paid the fine and was transferred to Abuja to face the importation case pending against him.

“He was re-arraigned on 20th March 2024 at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court in charge number FHC/ABJ/CR/438/2022 before Justice Joyce Obehi Abdulmalik, where he pleaded guilty again. Despite his plea, the court, noting his lack of remorse, the seriousness of drug-related offences and the fact that he is a repeated offender, convicted and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

“In the case of 42-year-old Agbo Chidike Prince, he was arrested at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja during the outward clearance of Ethiopian Airlines flight to Hong Kong on 21st October 2023 for ingesting 49 wraps of cocaine weighing 998.73grams.

“Upon his arraignment before Justice Joyce Obehi Abdulmalik of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, the defendant pleaded guilty to the one count charge, prompting the prosecution to present evidence and review the facts of the case.

“Despite the plea of allocutus by the defendant’s counsel, the court, noting the nature of the case and the commercial quantity of the drug, emphasized the seriousness of drug-related offences, convicted and sentenced the defendant on 15th April, 2024 to life imprisonment.”

Babafemi added that NDLEA officers at the Gate C departure hall of the Lagos airport on Friday 26th April arrested a passenger, Yahaya Danjuma Oturah, while attempting to export 4,000 pills of tramadol 225mg to Malpensa, Italy on an Ethiopian Airline flight.

He said the psychoactive substance was found concealed in women wears and granulated melon packed in the suspect’s backpack and another bag containing food items.

The NDLEA spokesman, in his statement, said Oturah, who is a frequent flyer, confessed he was hired to courier the drug for 700 Euros on successful delivery of the consignment in Italy.

He added that in Bayelsa, NDLEA operatives on Wednesday 24th April arrested 28-year-old Jennifer Iliya at Amarata area of Yenagoa for producing and distributing cakes laced with illicit drugs especially cannabis sativa.

Babafemi said at the time of her arrest, substantial number of the drugged cakes weighing 1.5kg were recovered from her.

The NDLEA statement read, “A 20-year-old hair stylist, Josephine Odunu and a dispatch rider, Edesemi Ikporo, 30, had been arrested on Sunday 10th March by NDLEA operatives for in Yenagoa for a similar offence.

“Two suspects: Joseph Dadik, 47, and Bensha Yari, 32, were arrested with 24,180 ampoules of pentazocine injection weighing 135.5 kilograms at Sabon Tasha, Kaduna, while Adamu Umar, 18, was nabbed with 20.700kg cannabis when his house in Shuware area of Mubi, Adamawa state was raided on Friday 26th April.

“No less than 310.7kg cannabis was recovered on Thursday 25th April when NDLEA operatives raided parts of Mushin in Lagos state. While 300kg was seized at Olatunji Street, Mushin, 10.7kg of same substance was retrieved from two suspects: Tijani Wasiu and Suleiman Aisha at Anifowose, Mushin.

“While Stanley Chukwudi, 43, was arrested with 5,900 ampoules of pentazocine injection at Sabon Gari area of Kano State on Thursday 25th April, a couple, Fredrick Odion, 53, and Gladys Odion, 52, were nabbed with 50kg cannabis at Iruekpen, Esan west LGA, Edo state by NDLEA officers on Wednesday 24th April.

“With the same zeal, the various commands of the Agency across the country continued with the War Against Drug Abuse, WADA, advocacy campaign in the past week. Some of them include: WADA sensitisation lecture for students and staff of Federal Government College, Nise, Anambra; Royal Institute of Health Technology, Ifo, Ogun state; Akpugo-Eze High School, Oji-River, Enugu; Modibbo Adama University, Yola, Adamawa; and Jubilee Secondary School, Ore, Ondo state, among others.

“While commending the officers and men of the Directorate of Prosecution and Legal Services of the Agency for the diligent prosecution of Uwazuoke and Agbo cases, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NDLEA, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa (Retd) said the success rate of cases prosecuted by the agency has shown that there’s no escape route for those involved in the illicit trade of drug trafficking.

“He equally applauded those of MMIA, Lagos, Kaduna, Kano, Edo, Adamawa and Bayelsa Commands as well as their counterparts in all the commands across the country for intensifying their drug supply and drug demand reduction activities.”

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