By TAIYE AGBAJE
ABUJA- Mr Chibunna Patrick Umeibe, the convicted drug trafficker in the trial of DCP Abba Kyari and others, on Friday, said that a whistleblower from Brazil informed the police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) about their movement before they were arrested at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
Umeibe made the disclosure during a cross examination by counsel to Kyari and two others, Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN, before Justice Emeka Nwite of a Federal High Court, Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne were the two drug peddlers who smuggled cocaine into the country from Ethiopia through Enugu Airport.
They were convicted and sentenced to six years’ imprisonment after they pleaded guilty to the three counts preferred against them by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
Nwite had ordered that the three counts, which attracted two-year jail term each, would run concurrently following their plea bargain agreement with the anti-narcotic agency.
They also agreed to stand as NDLEA’s witness in the trial of the five suspended police officers of the IRT of the Inspector-General of Police headed by Kyari.
Other police officers include ACP Sunday Ubia, ASP Bawa James, Insp. Simon Agirigba and Insp. John Nuhu who are 2nd to 5th defendants respectively.
Although they were being charged alongside the convicts, they all pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against them by the agency in the alleged cocaine deal.
At the resumed trial, Umeibe, who was the seventh prosecution witness, admitted that a whistleblower from Brazil tipped off officers of the IRT who laid ambush for them at the airport.
Umeibe said the cocaine he imported into the country was delivered to him in Ethiopia by somebody from Brazil.
When Ikpeazu asked him if he was aware that the whistleblower knew the movement of the drugs from Brazil, Ethiopia and to Enugu International Airport, he said: “I didn’t know.”
Umeibe, while being led in evidence-in-chief by NDLEA’s lawyer, Joseph Sunday, said on Jan. 19 when he arrived at the airport in Enugu, he met COVID-19 and Immigration agents.
“As we landed at Enugu Airport, I passed COVID-19 people, after COVID 19, I met Immigration officers and after Immigration, I met two young men they were on suits.
“So the two young men took my international passport and asked me where I was coming from.
“I told them I was coming from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They checked my passport and they referred me to one checking canter.
“When I got there, I met about four or five men standing there. They collected my passport.
“After checking my passport, they said, ‘young man, as you are looking fresh, do New Year for us.’
“And I gave them N5, 000, and after that, I went out,” he said.
He said as he walked to his co-convict, Ezenwanne, who was already waiting for him by the parking lot, a man in mufti accosted him and demanded for his passport.
“And I asked him what for? What do you have to do with my international passport, besides, I don’t know you?
“He now put hand inside his pocket and brought out police ID card.
“Before I knew it, other policemen were standing at my back on mufti,” he said.
Umeibe said the policemen then brought out their jackets with IRT inscription.
He said they subsequently arrested him and Ezenwanne.
He said all efforts made to pacify the police officers to release them were unsuccessful.
He said ASP James led the team for their arrest and they were brought to IRT Office in Abuja.
“As we were coming towards that Igala road (in Kogi), because my hope was that they would leave us on the road and carry the market (cocaine) and go.
“As we entered that Igala road, I thought in my my mind that these people meant this journey, because I had thought that they would leave us on the road .
“So I started begging the man (James) again, ‘please sir, help us. And he said if we disturbed him again, he would waste us that we never reach people that they used to waste.
“I now kept quite and we started moving on,” he said.
Meanwhile, the NDLEA lawyer, Mr Sunday, informed the court that a closed-circuit television (CCT) footage of what transpired at the Enugu International Airport on Jan. 19 would be made available to the court to prove that NDLEA operatives were not involved in the clearance of the two convicted drug traffickers.
Justice Nwite adjourned the matter until Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 for trial continuation.(NAN)