Sunday, February 25, 2024

Court summons NDLEA officials over alleged N3.7m bribe

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has summoned top officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency in Lagos following a N3.7million bribery allegation by a convict, Mrs. Fatima Hassan.

Trial judge, Justice Akintayo Aluko invited the Lagos State Commander of the agency, Umar Adoro; the Officer-in-Charge of Squad A, Quatu Mohammed and one ‘Officer Sanni’ to respond to the claim.

Mrs. Hassan, a mother of three, alleged that Sanni, who she described as the IPO (Investigative Officer) for her case, extorted N3.7million from her family.

She alleged that she was in the NDLEA’s custody for allegedly unlawfully dealing in Cannabis Sativa, otherwise known as Indian hemp.

She said Sanni asked for the money under the guise of using same to facilitate her bail for a drug-related offence, but that she was neither granted bail nor was the sum returned to her.

She told the court that the NDLEA declared N2.7million of the sum as proceeds of crime, while it kept back N1 million.

The allegations arose in the course of Hassan’s prosecution by the NDLEA before Justice Aluko.

She was arraigned on a one-count charge of dealing in 33.5 kg of Cannabis Sativa without lawful authority, contrary to and punishable under Section 11(c) of the NDLEA Act.

Hassan pleaded guilty and was convicted.

In the course of reviewing the facts of the case, prosecution counsel, L. Nor, sought to tender eight exhibits, including a monetary sum of N2.5 million in N1000 notes, described as a proceed of crime.

He was opposed by defence counsel, O. Ojakovo, who sought the return of N3.7million to the convict’s family.

Ojakovo said: “The monetary exhibit was not recovered from the defendant. It was the officer of the agency that told the relations of the defendant to raise money in the sum of N2.5 million for the defendant to be released on bail.

“The family members of the defendant went to borrow the money and are still servicing the loan to date. The money is actually N3.7 million given to the officer and not N2.5 million.

“The officer said it is only N2.5 million he has with him and we said it is okay. The officer is known as Mr. Sanni. It will be unfair, unjust and inhuman to classify the sum as proceeds of crime.

“We will make the necessary applications for the return of the money to the family of the defendant.”

But Nor insisted that the money was a crime proceed.

He said: “The said sum of N2.5 million is a proceed of dealing in drugs which PW1, Prosecution witness 1, mentioned in his evidence. By Sections 31, 32, 33, 34 NDLEA Act, the money is subject to seizure.

“The money was brought to the office of the agency as part of the proceeds of crime. The money was brought to obstruct the cause of justice, which is an offence by section 39 of the NDLEA Act.”

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