The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has arraigned The General Overseer of Christ Living Hope Church, Rev. Ugochukwu Emmanuel Ekwem before the Federal High Court in Lagos for drug trafficking.
Akeem was arrested by the NDLEA at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Ikeja Lagos while on his way to a three-week crusade in Nairobi, Kenya, with 54 sticks of Cannabis Sativa wrapped around his body.
The cleric, who has his church headquarters in Isuaniocha, Mgbakwu road, Awka, Awka North LGA, Anambra State, was arraigned before Justice Daniel Osiagor on a one-count charge of unlawful export of the said banned weed by the agency.
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The prosecutor, Augustine Nwagu told the judge that the offence violated Section 11(b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same Act.
The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The development made Nwagu ask the court to fix a trial date and remand the defendant in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services.
But the defence counsel, Benson Ndakara, informed Justice Osiagor that while he was not opposed to the trial date, he had filed a bail application on behalf of his client and that same has been served on the prosecutor.
After listening to arguments on the bail application from both parties, the judge granted the defendant bail in the sum of N2 million with one surety.
He directed that the surety must a Director either in the Federal or a Lagos State government’s establishment.
The judge then adjourned the matter to June 26, for trial.
He further ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison until he can perfect his bail terms.
His arrest on March 7, 2022, was made during the outward clearance of passengers on an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Nairobi via Addis Ababa.
When tested, the 54 sticks proved positive for cannabis.
The clergyman allegedly confessed during the preliminary interview that he packed that quantity of illicit substance on his body to use during his three weeks crusade in Kenya.
The Charge against the General Overseer reads, “that you Ekwem Emmanuel Ugochukwu, male, adult, on or about the 7th day of March 2022 during the outward clearance of passengers of Ethiopian Airline flight to Kenya at screening 1, Departure Hall of Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja-Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court without lawful authority exported 40 grammes of Cannabis Sativa, a narcotic drug similar to Cocaine, Heroin and LSD and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 11(b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”