At last, NDLEA, brings Ukatu in court over drug allegation

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.As judge fixes July 18 for ruling on bail application

By Valentine Amanze

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has finally brought the billionaire businessman, Mallinso Ukatu, before a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State after about three months of unlawful detention over alleged importation of Tramadol.

This is sequel to application for enforcement of human rights filled before the court by counsel to Ukatu led by Victor Opara, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), challenging the continued detention of his client without charging same to court.

The case suffered series of adjournments before July 8, 2022 due to failure of the NDLEA to bring the accused persons to court since their arrest and detention in agency’s facilities since April this year.

It took an order of the Ikoyi court presided by Justice P. O. Lifu, compelling NDLEA to bring Ukatu and other accused persons in the case before him within two (2) hours on Friday, July 8, 2022.

Mallinson was brought to a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi for the first time by the NDLEA on the allegations of importation of Tramadol worth over N3 billion, alongside co-accused person, Mr. Sunday Ibekwute, since their arrest April 13, 2022.

The duo are being accused by the NDLEA of conspiracy, trafficking in 322 kilograms of Tramadol, unlawful dealing and possession of the said drug.

Mallinson Ukatu and his co-accused were eventually produced in court, and the four-count charge was read to them and they pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Meanwhile, a third accused person, Mr. Pius Enidom, who has been on court bail on the same charge, has been consistently absent in court.

The presiding Judge, P. O. Lifu, ordered a bench warrant against Mr. Pius Enidom, and sureties to show cause.

The lead counsel for Mallinson Ukatu, Victor Opara (SAN), made legal submissions to the court to grant bail to his client. He argued that the accusations however severe were mere allegations until proven as the accused was still presumed innocent.

However, counsel to NDLEA, Mrs. T. E. Asuquo, opposed the bail application.

She told the court that the accused persons were flight risk and the bail application should be refused. She however submitted that in the event that bail was granted, she urged the court to impose stringent conditions for the bail.

The judge adjourned the case to July 18, 2022 for court’s ruling on the arguments and opposition for bail for the accused persons and ordered them to be remanded at the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS) Ikoyi.

 

valoa2000@yahoo.com

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