By Alex Enumah
The sixth prosecution witness, Mr Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne, in the trial of DCP Abba Kyari and four others, on Thursday, narrated how he and his colleagues brought cocaine from Ethiopia into Nigeria, via the Enugu International Airport.
The witness, who claimed not to be a drug dealer, admitted to have smuggled drugs into Nigeria only on two occasions, just as he indicted the operatives of the agency stationed at the Enugu International Airport.
Ezenwanne alongside one Chibunna Patrick Umeibe were the two drug traffickers arrested by members of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team (IGP-IRT) at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
They were convicted and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment after they pleaded guilty to the three counts charge preferred against them by the NDLEA.
Nwite had ordered that the three counts, which attracted two-year jail term each, would run concurrently following their plea bargain agreement with the anti-narcotic agency.
They also agreed to stand as NDLEA’s witness in the trial of the five suspended police officers of the IGP-IRT headed by Kyari.
Other police officers include ACP Sunday Ubia, ASP Bawa James, Insp. Simon Agirigba and Insp. John Nuhu who are 2nd to 5th defendants respectively.
However, they all pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against them by the agency in the alleged cocaine deal.
Led in evidence by NDLEA’s lawyer, Joseph Sunday, the witness told the court how he was arrested shortly after his arrival in Nigeria.
According to him he had travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 15, 2022 “to bring cocaine with the help of one Iwolabi from Brazil”.
“When we arrived at Enugu International Airport, I was the first person to come out of the airport. I stood at the car park waiting for my second to come out”, he said, adding that, “As I got there, some men jumped out of the car with guns…. as they grabbed me and my second, they brought out their jackets with inscription IRT.
“They shared it among themselves and wear it. That was when we knew they were police men.
“Because of the noise we made at the airport, people gathered , they pushed us inside their car and drove us out of the airport,” he narrated
Ezenwanne said despite all the offers they decided to give the police officers to free them, they did not listen to them.
“As it was happening, my second, Chibunna, begging them to leave us and carry those stuff (cocaine).
“They snapped me and him (Chibunna) and said by the time you were shouting at the airport, didn’t you know that you will beg,” he said.
The witness said the police officers contacted their boss and they were asked to transfer them to Abuja.
“So they took us in one car, a Toyota Camry, with one woman, three men.
“We left Enugu around 3:30pm, when we were moving on the way, we continue begging them.
“The team leader said we should shut up that if we talk again that he would waste us.
“So we closed our mouths, continue praying to God,” he said.
Ezenwanne said all these happened before they were handed over to the NDLEA for prosecution.
However, during cross examination by counsel to the defendants, Mr Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, Ezenwanne admitted that before he travelled to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, he knew that the NDLEA operatives are stationed at all international airports to prevent drugs from being trafficked into the country.
When asked whether he was arrested or stopped by NDLEA officers from bringing those drugs into Nigeria, on the two occasions he trafficked he said, “No”.
He said he had never tasted nor tested cocaine before, and that he did not weigh the two bags of cocaine (Exhibits 7 and 8) delivered to him before he brought them into the country.
He said on his way from Addis Ababa, he had in his possession 400 dollars and N11, 000; his international passport, his bag with two or three clothes, his ticket and his phone gadget.
Speaking further he said on arrival at the airport, he saw two men who directed him to a table for searching.
Ezenwanne admitted that he was told by the barons that he would need to have some money with him for “those people that will search his bag.”
He said he gave the agents at the airport N10, 000 to clear him before the police IRT officers arrested him.