June 19, 2024

Drug trafficking charge: Court rejects Abba Kyari fresh bail request

Bishops, Imams pray for Abba Kyari

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Abuja

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed a fresh application the detained Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, Abba Kyari, who is facing drug trafficking charge, filed to be released on bail, pending the conclusion of his trial.

The court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Emeka Nwite, on Wednesday, held that the application lacked merit, stressing that the suspended DCP failed to establish any exceptional circumstance that would warrant the exercise of judicial discretion in his favour.

Justice Nwite noted that the trial court had earlier dismissed a similar bail application that was brought before it and ordered accelerated hearing of the case.

He held that no evidence was adduced to show why the court should depart from its earlier ruling.

Consequently, the court refused the application and gave the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NLDEA, the nod to proceed with prosecution of both Kyari and his co-defendants in the matter.

The ruling came about a month after the court temporarily released the embattled erstwhile super cop from prison custody to enable him to participate in his mother’s final burial rites.

It specifically granted him bail for a period not exceeding two weeks, even as he was mandated to pay a bail bond to the tune of N50million with a surety in the like sum.

It will be recalled that Justice Nwite had on May 16, 2023, barred journalists from covering the case of the defendant who is on trial for allegedly tampering with cocaine that was seized from two convicted drug peddlers- Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne.

Justice Nwite restrained newsmen from being present in the courtroom whenever Kyari’s case is called up for hearing before the court.

The restraining order followed an application that was brought before the court by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA.

Kyari, who hitherto headed the Police Intelligence Response Team, IRT, is answering to an eight-count charge the NDLEA preferred him and four members of his team; ACP Sunday J. Ubia, ASP Bawa James, Insp. Simon Agirigba and Insp. John Nuhu.

NDLEA had persuaded the court to walk all journalists and lawyers not connected to the case, out of the courtroom, citing the need to protect identities of some witnesses billed to testify in the matter.

The Director of Legal and Prosecution at the NDLEA, Mr. Sunday Joseph, explained that some of the witnesses he identified as intelligent officers, needed to be shielded, in view of the sensitivity of the case.

Insisting that the application was in the overall national interest, the prosecution counsel said it was observed that members of the Inspector-General (I-G) of Police IRT, who were loyal to DCP Kyari, were always in court to observe the proceedings.

Jutice Nwite had on March 22, 2023, dismissed a motion that Kyari filed to challenge the competence of the charge against him.

Kyari, through his team of lawyers led by Mr. Nureni Jimoh, SAN, maintained that the charge was legally defective and premature, insisting that the NDLEA ought to have allowed police to exhaust its internal machinery before it instituted the action.

He told the court that the Police had already commenced investigation on allegations against him and issued an interim report.

The defendant argued that he could only be charged to court upon conclusion of the internal investigation by the police.

The NDLEA 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.

The court had on in two previous rulings, denied the defendants bail, even as it ordered their remand at Kuje prison.

The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal equally turned down Kyari’s request for bail.