A suspected drug baron, Olife Victor Chidi, who became evasive for 10 years after he was initially arrested for alleged trafficking of 7.5 kilogrammes of heroin by the operatives of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), has been arraigned before a Lagos Federal High Court.
Chidi was alleged to have committed the offence on May 27, 2010, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, alongside one Oke Ningo, who is said to still be at large.
Arraigning the defendant before Justice Muhammad Liman in a charge marked FHC/L/35c/2021, the prosecutor, Mr Oigoga Ichakpa, told the court that the suspected drug baron became ‘fugitive’ after he was granted administrative bail by his agency. Ichakpa further told the court that it took the agency extra efforts in ‘fishing him out’ of his hiding place.
The suspect is facing a two-count charge of unlawfully dealing in 7.5 kilogrammes of heroine, a banned narcotic. The offences, according to the prosecutor, are contrary to and punishable under sections 14 (b) and 11(b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
The defendant, however, denied the offences, but did not deny the allegation of being evasive after his arrest.
Following his not guilty plea, the prosecutor urged the court to remand him till the determination of the charge and also asked the court for a trial date.
Responding, the defendant’s counsel, Chief Benson Ndakara, told the court that he was not opposed to the trial date, adding that he had filed his client’s bail application and the same had been served on the prosecution.
Following Chief Ndakara’s submission, Justice Liman ordered both parties to argue the application. After listening to both parties, Justice Liman held that granting bail to a defendant was at the court’s discretion, especially when the defendant could be bailed in the charge.
He consequently admitted the defendant to bail in the sum of N50 million with two sureties, who must be landed property owners within the court jurisdiction.
The judge adjourned the matter till April 14 for trial and ordered that the defendant be remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCoS) till the fulfillment of his bail terms.
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