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11 Filipinos’ Trial For Alleged Cocaine Import Begins

The Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, Tuesday began the trial of 11 Filipinos accused of unlawfully importing cocaine.

The court commenced proceedings by hearing testimonies against the defendants from two witnesses of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

The defendants are Gerapusco Fidel; Antolin Reynante; Bechayoa Edgar; Voltaire Tejero, Kent Ryan; Bryan Kamos; Ralph Christopher; Maningo Dennis; Romnick Albarracin; Ervin Pabuaya and Quetua Judezar Servilla.

According to the NDLEA, the 11 were arrested on November 7, 2021, at GDNL Terminal Apapa Port, Lagos, alongside a vessel, MV Karteria, for allegedly unlawfully smuggling 13.65 kilogrammes of cocaine into the country.

They were arraigned before Justice Nicholas Oweibo on May 20, 2022, on a four-count charge of conspiracy, unlawful importation and transportation of the prohibited substance.

The offences according to prosecution counsel Mr. Dinneys F. Owen contravened sections 11(b) and 14(b) of the NDLEA Act, 2004.

At the resumption of trial on Tuesday, the Philippines nationals were represented by two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), Mr. Femi Atoyebi and Mr. Babajide Koku.

Mr. Owen opened prosecution by calling two witnesses, Mr. Fredrick Atoni and Mr. Luka Zaka, who identified themselves as exhibit keepers at the Lagos and Apapa Special Commands of the agency respectively.

Fredrick, while being led in evidence by the prosecutor, narrated how the seized drug was brought to the Lagos Command office by the Apapa Special Command exhibits officer, Mr. Luka, on November 16, 2021.

He said he received and kept the substance in a safe inside a strong room. He equally tendered all the exhibits, including a big transparent pouch, the bulk of the seized drug, a big black bag, a big brown envelope housing the sample of the seized drug, and three documents.

All were admitted and marked as exhibits A to G.

Upon being called to testify, Zaka stated, among others, that he received the prohibited substance at Greenview Development Nigeria Limited (GNDL), Apapa Terminal upon the defendants’ arrest, tested and weighed same to be 13.65 kilogrammes.

During cross-examination by the duo of Atoyebi and Koku, the witness said he was neither at the scene where the defendants were arrested nor did he know when the vessel arrived and berthed.

He also testified that he did not know the total number of the crew aboard the vessel.

Justice Oweibo adjourned hearing till Wednesday.

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