A Lagos Federal High Court has discharged seven India citizens and a Nigerian, charged by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, of unlawful importation of cocaine into the country.
Justice Ayokunle Faji freed the seven Indians namely; Singh Vikash, Kunnaserypallam Ashraf Inzam, Xaiver Fernando Santhanaria, Mandal Surjeet Ashok, Tandel Pratikkumar Pravinbai and Barthwal Rohan Sunil.
A Nigerian freed from the allegations was Shedrack Yurama.
The defendants were cleared by Justice Faji after he upheld their no case submissions filed by their counsel, Mr. Femi Atoyebi, Tunde Adejuyigbe, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) and others, in a three count amended charge of conspiracy and unlawful importation of 43.1 kilograms of cocaine into the country, filed against them by the NDLEA.
The freed men were charged before the court on July 9, 2021.
They were charged alongside Tobi Ojo, Kunle Animashaun, Peter Odigie Ozasuwa and a limited liability company, Oilways Logistics and Energy Limited.
They were alleged to have committed alongside one Franklyn Pereowei Godwin, said to be at large.
The freed men and others were alleged to have brought in the banned substance in a vessel named MV Spar SCORPIO.
They were alleged have committed the offences on February 8, 2021, at the Tincan Port, Apapa, Lagos.
The offences according to the prosecuting team led by Mrs. Theresa Asuquo contravened, Section 11(a) and 14(b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Act Cap N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, LFN, 2004, and punishable under the same Act.
The prosecution called 25 witnesses and tendered several exhibits, which were admitted by the court during trial proceedings.
However, all the defendants after the closing of prosecution case, opted to and filed no case submissions. And the prosecution equally filed responses to the submissions.
Delivering ruling on the no case submissions on Monday, Justice Faji, after perusing all the processes and citing several legal authorites, upheld the eight men’s no case submissions, and ordered the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth defendants to open their defence.
The first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth defendants ordered to open their defence are: Tobi Ojo; Kunle Animashaun; Oilways Logistics And Energy Limited; Peter Odigie Ozasuwa and Omozusi Enorose Terry.
The judge after the ruling, also made a consequential order, for the release of traveling passports to all the seven Indians, and release of the freed Nigerian, from the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services, NCoS, as requested by their counsel.
The trial judge, Justice Faji has adjourned till December 6, 8 and 9, for other defendants to open their defence.