The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has arraigned a vessel, MV Chayaneenaree, 10 Thailand Nationals and nine Nigerians at a Federal High Court in Lagos over alleged illegal importation of 32.9kg of cocaine.
The ten Thailand nationals arraigned alongside the vessel are; Krilerk Tanakhan, Boonlert Hansoongnern, Jakkarin Booncharoen, Thammarong Put-t-ek, Worrapat Paopinta, Marut Kantaprom, Werapat Somboonying, Urkit Amsri, Panudet Jaisuk and Amrat Thawom.
The nine Nigerians are; Samuel Messiah, Ishaya Maisamari, Ilesanmi Ayo Abbey, Osabeye Stephen, Gbenga Ogunfadeke, Kayode Buletiri, Rilwan Omotosho Liasu, Saidi Sule Alani and Jamiu Adewale Yusuf. T hey were all arraigned before Justice Daniel Osiagor on a 4-count charge of conspiracy; unlawful transportation and unlawful importation of 32.9kg of cocaine.
Addressing the court on the charge, NDLEA’s lawyer, Mrs. Theresa Asuquo, indicated that the prosecution has filed three charges against the defendants. She sought for the striking out of the first and second amended charges dated December 8, 2021 and January 18, 2022, respectively, so that the defendants can take their plea on the third amended-charge dated January 24, 2022.
Upon the reading of the charge to all the defendants with the aid of an interpreter, they all denied the alleged offences, following which the NDLEA’s lawyer sought for a trial date. Afterwards, defence lawyers led by Femi Atoyebi (SAN) pleaded with the court to allow previous bail applications filed on behalf of their clients.
Atoyebi told the court that the Thailand nationals have earlier been granted administrative bail by the NDLEA in the sum of $100, 000 and that the owner of the vessel had also provided $5 million bond for the vessel.
The silk further urged the court to allow the Thailand nationals continue to enjoy the administrative bail granted them by the prosecution. He also applied to court to order the Nigerian Navy allow the replacedefendants ment of 2nd to 11th defendants, who have disembarked from the vessel.
Atoyebi also urged the court for an order that upon verification of the bond in the sum of $5 million by the Admiralty Marshall or its substitute, officials of the Nigerian Navy on board the vessel should disembark forthwith and allow the vessel to sail.
Other defence lawyers also informed the court of their clients’ bail appllications and urged the court to admit them to bail in liberal terms. Responding, NDLEA’s lawyer told the court that her client is only opposed to the bail appllications of 12th to 20th defendants.
She confirmed that the vessel and the ten Thailand nationals have been granted administrative bail on some terms which they have complied with. “We are opposed to the bail applications of the 12th to 20th defendants, but we didn’t file counter against those of the 1st to 11th defendants.
Before now, they were granted bail and we executed ‘escrow account’, where they deposited $100, 000 each. We granted it on their letter of undertaken and we are in the process of making sure that they pay the money. “For the 12th to 20th defendants, we will only be asking that the conditions to be given to them should be one that will compel them to attend trial”,
Asuquo said. Upon hearing from parties, Justice Osiagor ordered the Thai nationals to continue on the administrative bail granted them by the NDLEA. He also admitted bail to the accused Nigerians in the sum of N1 million with one surety each in like sum.
The surety, according to the judge, must be resident within the court’s jurisdisction. Justice Osiagor also granted the request made by Atoyebi on the release of the vessel. Further hearing in the matter has been adjourned to May 17 and 18 for trial of the replacedefendants.
The defendants were arrested on October 13, 2021, at Apapa, were they allegedly committed the offences alongside Kehinde Enoch, Ayo Joseph and one, Tunde, who were said to be at large. The offences according to the NDLEA are contrary to and punishable under Sections 11 (b), 11(a) and 14 (b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.