Two Nigerians face Ghana trial over suspected cocaine substance

law-and-justiceTwo Nigerians who were arrested for possessing 372 bottles containing substances suspected to be cocaine were put before an Accra Fast Track Court on Wednesday.

James Ekeke Chukwu and Sammy Ikechekwu Benjy Eke, both businessmen, pleaded not guilty to engaging in criminal conspiracy and importation of narcotics with the street value of about $12 million without authority.

Eke was additionally charged for possessing 62 boxes containing 372 bottles of liquid substance suspected to be cocaine.

A prosecution witness, Eunice Tettey, a clearing agent billed to give evidence in the case, had told the court of how she was approached to clear the goods imported by the accused persons.

Defence counsels for the accused persons, however, made a verbal application to the court to grant their clients bail especially considering Eke’s ill health.

Mr Vincent Aikins, counsel for Chukwu, one of the accused persons, told the court that Eke was ill.

The court, presided over by Mr Justice Mustapha Habib Logoh, ordered defence counsels to file a formal bail application so the court could rule on it.

The matter was adjourned to April 24.

Mr Asiamah Sampong, Principal State Attorney, had told the court that in December last year, the Narcotic Control Board (NACOB), through its foreign counterpart, received an intelligence report that a cargo containing quantities of cosmetics from Bolivia to Tema Port had narcotic drugs concealed in them.

On January 29, this year, the cargo, which was consigned to a company called Consumables Lines Limited, arrived at the Tema Port.

Officers of the Joint Port Control Unit mounted surveillance on the cargo in a 40 footer container with Number MRK 257 48-45 GI belonging to Maersk Shipping Line Company.

The prosecution said in February, two clearing agents and witnesses in the case, arrived with the necessary documents to clear the goods.

Mr Sampong said inspection of the import documents revealed that the cargo was billed to contain 22 pallets of assorted cosmetics.

According to the prosecution, the container arrived with the seal number ML 014986 intact, and the container was opened for inspection in the presence of the agents.

Mr Sampong said during physical examination of the goods, green bottles of liquid substances suspected to be cocaine were found sealed in surgical gloves.

The prosecution said the clearing agent denied knowledge of the narcotic drugs and the cargo, but another agent told investigators that a second hand cloth dealer, who was a client to Chukwu, who introduced Eke to her as an importer of cosmetic products, wanted his goods to be cleared for him.

Mr Sampong said the agent said that she was presented with the necessary documents at her office by the two suspects and she (the agent) was formally engaged to clear the goods.

The prosecution said further investigations led to the arrest of Chukwu at Aplaku Junction near Weija when he attempted to take delivery of the cargo.

The prosecution said Chukwu mentioned Eke as the owner of the container, and stated that sometime in 2011, Chukwu told him (Eke) that he had the desire to import cosmetics from South America to Ghana.

The court heard that Chukwu said he assisted Eke to register a company known as Consumables Lines Limited at the Registrar General’s Department.

The prosecution said Chukwu stated that in December 2012, Eke came to him with the import document of the cargo, which was on the high seas from Bolivia to Tema.

Mr Sampong said Eke was lured into the country and he blamed Chukwu and two others for concealing the drugs in the cargo of cosmetics.

Investigations led to the retrieval of 180,600 CFA, 18,700 dollars, 3,945 naira and GH¢680 from Eke, while GH¢2,150 was found on Chukwu.

The prosecution alleged the monies were believed to be proceeds from the sale of narcotic drugs.

Mr Sampong said that the substance had been forwarded to the Ghana Standards Authority for analytical examination.

Source: GNA

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