By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, dismissed a fresh bail application that was brought before it by the detained Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, Abba Kyari, who is facing drug trafficking charge.
The court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Emeka Nwite, held that the suspended DCP, failed to establish why its previous decision that ordered his remand at Kuje prison pending the determination of the case against him, should be set-aside.
It held that the fact that Kyari and four other police officers that are facing trial with him, did not escape when Kuje prison was recently attacked by insurgents, was not enough to prove that they would not jump bail once they are released from custody.
Justice Nwite dismissed Kyari’s argument that the Kuje jailbreak constituted an exceptional circumstance the court should consider and review its earlier ruling that denied him bail.
He held that the development the defendant relied upon did not fall within the purview of sections 162 and 163 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, to warrant the court to vary its subsisting order.
More so, Justice Nwite held that since the NDLEA has not closed its case, both Kyari and his co-defendants could interfere with some of the vital witnesses or undermine their prosecution, if released on bail.
“The defendants has still not presented sufficient materials before me to warrant the grant of the fresh applications. Consequently, the applications are refused and my former order for accelerated trial is hereby sustained”, the trial Judge held.
Kyari, who hitherto headed the the Police Intelligence Response Team, IRT, is facing trial alongside four members of his team; ACP Sunday J. Ubia, ASP Bawa James, Insp. Simon Agirigba and Insp. John Nuhu.
The court had on March 28, declined to release the defendants on bail, pending the determination of the eight-count charge the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, preferred against them.
However, though the NDLEA had since opened its case by producing some of its witnesses, the suspended DCP, through his team of lawyers led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, re-approached the court, begging it to release him on bail, insisting that his life was in danger at the Kuje prison.
He told the court that he was being remanded with hardened criminals that his team made their arrest possible.
Kyari, who was inside the prison facility when the insurgents that were later identified as members of the Islamic State West Africa Province, ISWAP, a breakaway faction of the Boko Haram terrorist sect, invaded it on July 5, told the court that he hid himself like a rat.
He told the court that though the terrorists had after they seized the prison facility for over three hours, opened all the gates and forced inmates to escape, he declined to run away, along with four other members of the Police Intelligence Response Team, IRT, that were also remanded with him.
Ikpeazu, SAN, argued that the prison attack established “a special and exceptional circumstance” that should warrant the court to release his client and his men on bail, pending the determination of the charge against them.
The NDLEA had alleged that Kyari and his men, unlawfully tampered with 21.25kilograms worth of cocaine that they seized from the two convicted drug traffickers- Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwane- even as it also accused them of dealing in cocaine worth 17.55kg.
It alleged that the police officers committed the offence between January 19 and 25, 2022, at the office of Inspector-General of Police (IGP) IRT, Abuja, in connivance with one ASP John Umoru (now at large), contrary to section 14(b) of the NDLEA Act, CAP N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.