A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, dismissed a bail application filed by ASP Bawa James, a co-defendant in the alleged drug trafficking case preferred against suspended DCP Abba Kyari, and others.
The presiding judge, Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling, held that the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) had succeeded to prove its argument beyond doubt why the court should not admit James to a bail.
Justice Nwite, on March 28, 2022, fixed today for ruling on bail application filed by James after Kyari and other co-defendants’ bail pleas were rejected on the grounds that James’ application was not ripe for hearing.
The NDLEA, on March 7, arraigned Kyari (1st defendant) and six others on allegations bordering on cocaine deal.
He was arraigned alongside four suspended police officers including ACP Sunday Ubia, ASP James, Insp. Simon Agirigba and Insp. John Nuhu as 2nd to 5th defendants respectively..
Also arraigned with them are Chibunna Umeibe and Emeka Ezenwanne, the two alleged drug traffickers who were arrested at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu.
Although the five officers pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them, Umeibe and Ezenwanne, who are 6th and 7th defendants respectively, pleaded guilty to five, six and seven counts preferred against them.
Ruling, the judge aligned with the argument of counsel for NDLEA, Joseph Sunday, that James (3rd defendant) was a flight risk and that he might jump bail.
Nwite said that the 3rd defendant had failed to bring up strong evidence to challenge the anti-narcotic agency’s submission that the character of evidence against him was very serious.
He said though the defence argued that the court had the discretionary power to rule in favour of the applicant since the offence was a bailable one, he was mindful to consider the submission of the prosecution.
The judge, therefore, refused to grant James bail and adjourned the matter until May 26.
It would be recalled that the defence counsel had argued that ASP James had a good record as staff of the Nigerian police and had conducted himself well in the course of the trial.
But the NDLEA, in its counter affidavit, said it would be improper and inappropriate for the court to grant him bail considering the nature of the case.
The agency argued that sufficient materials had been placed before the court to refuse the bail plea.
It said that James was charged with serious offence and the agency is also investigating him on money laundering offence which might be charged to court soon.
It alleged that the applicant, if granted bail, might run away from justice considering their connection with elements of police and criminal underworld.
Besides, the NDLEA argued that the suspended officer might undermine the criminal justice process if admitted to bail.
The agency, which said that James’ arrest was in line with the due process of the law, said that it was ready to commence trial without delay with its witnesses lined up.
The agency further told the court that it had shown that the applicant (James) had connection with criminal elements and that he had tremendous influence in Nigerian police and could use his contact to his advantage.
But James, through his counsel, had disagreed with all the allegations by the NDLEA.
He said that contrary to the NDLEA’s allegations, there was no evidence to suggest that he had connection with criminal elements.
He said his suspension as a police officer was not that he was already guilty of the offences to which he was charged with but to allow for fair trial. (NAN)