A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Onyechi Ikpeazu, has disclosed why he accepted to defend the suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, in the eight-count charge of drug trafficking instituted against him and others by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
Ikpeazu revealed what convinced him to take up Kyari’s defence in an exclusive interview with THE WHISTLER at his chambers in Abuja…..CONTINUE READING
THE WHISTLER reports that Kyari and six others were on March 2022 arraigned before the court by the NDLEA for allegedly tampering and conspiring to deal in 21.35 kilograms of cocaine seized from suspected traffickers.
Co-defendants in the case are fellow officers namely, Sunday Ubia, Bawa James, Simon Agirigba, and John Nuhu; including two civilians, Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne.
The police officers had pleaded not guilty to the charges but the civilians admitted to having knowingly possessed 21.35 kilograms of cocaine.
Chibunna and Emeka later opted for a plea bargain with the NDLEA and were accordingly sentenced to two years imprisonment by Justice Emeka Nwite on June 14, 2022.
The duo have since been released from prison.
At the beginning of the case, Kyari was legally represented by Kanu Agabi, SAN, and Nureini Jimoh SAN and the case is still at the stage of continuation of trial as of now.
The defendant, however, changed his lead counsel in 2023, with Ikpeazu showing up in court as his legal representative.
On May 16, 2023, the court ordered litigants, journalists, and parties not directly involved in the case to leave the courtroom in line with an application made by the NDLEA who sought the “protection” of its witnesses and evidence.
Speaking to THE WHISTLER, Ikpeazu said a good defence helps a judge to determine where guilt or innocence will lie, adding that Kyari “is a person that has added considerable value to society in many ways.”
According to him, the illicit drugs in dispute were intercepted by Kyari’s team at the parking lot of an airport, meaning that they must have been cleared to come into Nigeria by relevant authorities, not the police.
He said he would urge the court to see that bringing illicit drugs into Nigeria was the crime, not its interception within the country.
“When you look at the case itself (I’m not going into details) and ask, what precipitated the charge? It was that his (Kyari) unit was able to do that which the NDLEA was unable to do.
“They (Abba Kyari’s unit) were able to detect a drug cartel that had isolated the Enugu Airport (from Brazil to Ethiopia to Enugu Airport) for their drug transaction and they disseminate drugs all over the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“They were able to intercept that. Now, the people they arrested were actually arrested at the parking lot of the Enugu Airport after they had been cleared by the drug agents at the same airport.
“Let me try and see how we can expose some of the things that actually transpired,” Ikpeazu said.
He explained that it was ironic for the civilians that trafficked the drugs to be freed from prison because they entered into a plea bargain with the NDLEA which is an agency of the federal government.
“The people that imported drugs, the drugs were not concealed, they were tendered in court; and the people that imported such demonic and dangerous substance to be circulated to our children, walk (out of prison), while the people that intercepted them for prosecution are now being prosecuted. That is the irony of it all. You may even classify this as a public interest litigation because that is what it is and I am doing it pro bono (free of charge).
“For instance, I defended Honorable Justice Ademola and prior to the time the case went to court, the court of public opinion have essentially convicted him but when we went into the case and interrogated and scrutinize the case of the prosecution, the case failed,” he added…..CONTINUE READING