The suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, Abba Kyari, who is facing drug trafficking charge, Thursday, begged the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to release him on bail, alleging a threat to his life.
Kyari, through his team of lawyers led by Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, told the court that he is feeling unsafe at the Kuje Correctional Center where he said he was being remanded with hardened criminals.
Ikpeazu said the fresh application for the court to reconsider the request his client earlier made for bail pending the determination of the charge against him, became necessary, considering the nature of assignments he undertook while performing his duties as a police officer.
According to the defence lawyer, some of the inmates on remand at the Kuje Correctional Center, were people that Kyari’s team at the Police Intelligence Response Team, IRT, made their arrest possible.
Aside from DCP Kyari, three other police officers that are equally on trial over the alleged offence- ACP Sunday J. Ubia, Insp. Simon Agirigba and Insp. John Nuhu- also begged the court to okay their release on bail on safety ground.
However, the 3rd defendant in the matter, Bawa James, who is an Assistant Superintendent of Police, ASP, did not join them in the application.
Meanwhile, counsel for the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Mr. Sunday Joseph, urged the court to refuse the bail request by the defendants.
The prosecution counsel maintained that the matter was originally slated for the review of facts of the case relating to two self-confessed drug traffickers, Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwane, who were linked to the suspended DCP, Kyari.
Both Umeibe and Ezenwanne, who were cited as 6th and 7th Defendants in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/57/2022, were arrested at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu while attempting to smuggle cocaine into the country.
They had on March 7, when they were arraigned alongside Kyari, pleaded guilty to the drug trafficking charge.
Kyari who pleaded innocence to the charge against him, had contended that reviewing facts of the case or sentencing Umeibe and Ezenwanne, while his trial is still ongoing, would be prejudicial to him.
He further drew attention of the court to the fact that both Umeibe and Ezenwanne were also mentioned in some counts in the charge that involved him and the other accused police officers.
The court had in a ruling it delivered on April 28, dismissed Kyari’s objections and held that it would go ahead to review facts of the case against Umeibe and Ezenwanne.
Nevertheless, at the resumed proceedings on the matter on Thursday, Kyari and his police co-defendants, said they have gone to the Court of Appeal to challenge the ruling.
They further filed a motion for the court to temporarily halt the trial to await the outcome of the appeal, an application that was opposed by the prosecution which accused the defendants of attempting to stay proceeding in a criminal matter.
Meantime, trial Justice Emeka Nwite adjourned the case till June 14 to hear the defendants’ fresh application for bail.
The NDLEA had alleged that Kyari and his men, unlawfully tampered with 21.25kilograms worth of cocaine that they seized from the two apprehended drug traffickers, even as it also accused them of dealing in cocaine worth 17.55kg.
It alleged that the police officers committed the offence between January 19 and 25, 2022, at the office of Inspector-General of Police (IGP) IRT, Abuja, in connivance with one ASP John Umoru (now at large), contrary to section 14(b) of the NDLEA Act, CAP N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
Besides, Kyari, was said to have attempted to bribe a senior officer of the NDLEA with $61, 400. 00 at a restaurant in Abuja to prevent the testing of part of the cocaine that was seized from the two arrested drug pushers.
On the other hand, the agency, alleged that Umeibe and Ezenwanne, conspired with one IK that is currently at large, to import 21.35kg of cocaine into the country without lawful authority and knowingly possessed same, and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 11(d) of the NDLEA Act, CAP N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
The court earlier denied the defendants bail on the premise that they not posed “flight risk”, but also have “tremendous influence in the Nigeria Police” and the capacity to interfere with the prosecution witnesses.
While Kyari and his men were remanded at the Kuje Correctional Center, Umeibe and Ezenwanne were remanded at the Suleja Correctional Center.