A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday heard how 11 Philippines citizens were arrested at the Apapa Port, Lagos, for allegedly unlawfully importing 13.65 kilograms of cocaine into Nigeria.
The Filipinos who were charged before Justice Nicholas Oweibo by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) are Gerapusco Fidel, Antolin Reynante, Bechayoa Edgar, Voltaire Tejero, Kent Ryan, Bryan Kamos, Ralph Christopher, Maningo Dennis, Romnick Albarracin, Ervin Pabuaya and Quetua Judezar Servilla.
They were arrested on November 7, 2021, at GDNL Terminal, Apapa Port, Lagos, alongside a vessel, MV Karteria.
All the defendants were arraigned before the court on Friday, May 20, 2022, on a four-count charge of conspiracy, unlawful importation and transportation of the prohibited substance.
The offences, according to the prosecutor, Dinneys F. Owen, are contrary to and punishable under section 11(b) and 14(b) of the NDLEA Act Cap N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
At the resumed trial of the defendants on Tuesday, the prosecutor called two witnesses, Fredrick Atoni and Luka Zaka, who were both exhibit keepers at the Lagos and Apapa Special Command of the agency, respectively.
Fredrick, while being led in evidence by the prosecutor, told the court how the seized drug was brought to the Lagos command office by the Apapa Special Command exhibits officer on November 16, 2021. He also told the court how he received and kept the substance in a safe strongroom. He equally tendered all the exhibits which included a big transparent pouch, bulk of the seized drug, a big black back, a big brown envelope housing the sample of the seized drug, and three documents. All were admitted and marked as exhibits A to G.
During cross-examination by the defendants’ counsels, Femi Atoyebi and Babajide Koku, the witness told the court that he was not at the scene of arrest, neither was he the one that recovered the exhibits, but only received the exhibits from the Apapa Special Command exhibits keeper, recorded and kept it in a strongroom.
The Apapa Special Command exhibits keeper, while being led in evidence by the prosecutor, told the court that he received the prohibited substance at Greenview Development Nigeria Limited (GNDL), Apapa Terminal, upon the arrest of the defendants on November 7, 2021.
He also told the court how he tested the drug and weighed the same to be 13.65 kilograms.
The witness also told the court that he received the exhibits in the presence of all the defendants, but could only identify the vessel’s captain, Chief Officer and the Chief Engineer. And that all he did in relation to the seized drugs was done in the presence of some officers of the Nigerian Navy, NDLEA, the vessel’s captain and crew and the arresting officer.
He also told the court how he transferred the seized drug to Lagos Command office of the agency and handed it over to Fredrick Atoni, the exhibit keeper.
During cross-examination by the duo of Atoyebi and Koku, the witness said he was not at the scene where the defendants were arrested and that he did not know when the vessel arrived and berthed.
Further hearing of the matter was adjourned till Wednesday June 1, 2022.
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