A vessel, MV Chayaneenaree, 10 Thailand Nationals and nine Nigerians, were today, arraigned before the Federal High Court, Lagos for alleged illegal importation of 32.9 kilograms of Cocaine, by the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
The Thais arraigned alongside the vessel were: Krilerk Tanakhan; Boonlert Hansoongnern; Jakkarin Booncharoen; Thammarong Put-t-ek; Worrapat Paopinta; Marut Kantaprom; Werapat Somboonying; Urkit Amsri; Panudet Jaisuk and Amrat Thawom.
While the nine Nigerians were: Samuel Messiah; Ishaya Maisamari; Ilesanmi Ayo Abbey; Osabeye Stephen; Gbenga Ogunfadeke; Kayode Buletiri; Rilwan Omotosho Liasu; Saidi Sule Alani and Jamiu Adewale Yusuf.
All the defendants were arraigned before the Justice Daniel Osiagor on four counts charge of conspiracy; unlawful transportation and unlawful importation of 32. 9 kilograms of Cocaine.
The defendants were arrested on October 13, 2021, at Apapa, where they allegedly committed the offences.
The defendants allegedly commited the offences alongside Kehinde Enoch, Ayo Joseph and one Tunde all 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.
Arraigning the defendants today, the prosecutor, Mrs. Theresa Asuquo, who led Mr. Fingere Owen Dennis, told the court that the prosecution has filed three charges against the defendants, and asked the court to strike out the first and second amended charges dated December 8, 2021 and January 18, 2022, respectively, and asked court to allow the defendants take their plea on the third amended-charge dated January 24, 2022.
Counsel to the defendants who includes; Femi Atoyebi (SAN), Benson Ndakara, Bayo Onifade Bolanle Kolawole, Chief Lilian Omotunde and and others, did not opposed the prosecutor’s application, but pleaded with the court to allow previous bail applications filed on behalf of their clients.
Upon reading the charges to all the defendants with an assistance of an interpreter, they all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Following defendants’ not guilty plea, the lead prosecutor, Mrs. Asuquo, asked the court for a trial date.
However, counsel to the vessel and Thais, Mr. Atoyebi (SAN) told the court that the Thailand Nationals, have earlier been granted administrative bail by the NDLEA in the sum of $100, 000 USD, each and that the owner of the vessel had also provided $5 million USD Bond for the vessel.
Atoyebi (SAN) asked the court to allow the Thailand Nationals to continue with the administrative bail granted them by the prosecution.
He also applied to court to order Nigerian Navy to allow replacement of Second to 11 defendants, who have disembarked from the vessel.
He also urged the court for an order that upon verification of the bond in the sum of $5 million USD, by the Admiralty Marshall or it’s substitute, that the men of Nigerian Navy on board of the vessel disembark forthwith and the vessel be release to sail.
Other counsel, also informed the court of their clients bail appllications and urged the court to admit them to bail in the most liberal terms.
Responding, the lead prosecutor, Mrs Asuquo, told the court that NDLEA only opposed bail appllication of 12-20 defendants.
The prosecutor told the court that the vessel and the 10 Thais, have been granted administrative bail on some terms, which they had complied with.
“We opposed for 12 to 20 defendants, but we didn’t file counter against first to 11 defendants.
“Before now, they were granted bail and we executed ‘escrow account’, where they deposited $100, 000 USD each. We granted on the letter of undertaken, we are in the process of making sure that they pay the money.
“For 12 to 20 defendants, we shall only be asking that the conditions to be given to them should be one that will compel them to attend trial.”
The lead prosecutor also told the court that the vessel has been released before now based on the security provided.
Upon hearing from parties, Justice Osiagor ordered the Thais to continue with the bail terms granted them by the prosecution. While he admitted bail to the Nigerians in the sum of N1 million with one surety each in like sum.
The judge ordered that the surety must be resident within the Court’s jurisdisction.
Justice Osiagor while also granting the request made by Atoyebi (SAN) on the release of the vessel and others, adjourned till May 17 and 18 for the trial of all the defendants.