Temporary respite came the way of an alleged Lagos-based billionaire drug baron, Nsofor Kennedy Ugochukwu, a.k.a Ugochukwu Nsofor Chukwukadibia, who was last September arrested for drug dealings but was granted bail Friday.
He was arraigned before the court by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) over alleged possession and storage of 5,340 kilogrammes of Tramadol, a substance similar to Cocaine, Heroin and LSD was on Friday admitted to bail.
The defendant who is the Chairman of Autonation Motors Ltd was granted bail by the trial judge, Justice Ambrose Lewis Allagoa of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, following the defendant’s application for bail after his arraignment on a three-count charge.
In his ruling on the bail, Justice Allagoa admitted Nsofor Kennedy Ugochukwu to bail in the sum of N100 million and one surety in like sum.
In addition, the surety must have a landed property worth the sum in Lagos.
Document to be verified by the court registrar. He should show evidence of tax payment for a period of three years.
“The defendant to be in the custody of the NDLEA until the bail conditions are perfected ” the judge said.
When the case was called, Mr Umar Hussain announced his appearance for the prosecution while Chief B.O. Ndakara announced appearance for the defendant.
Count One of the charge read: “That you Nsofor Kennedy Ugochukwu a.k.a. Ugochukwu Nsofor Chukwukadibia, male, adult, Nigerian citizen of Plot Z – 130, Road 67 VGC Housing Estate, Lagos, on or about September 30, 2022 at about 1400 hrs within the jurisdiction of this honourable court without lawful authority caused the premises at Plot A45 Road 2, being the owner of same at same VGC Housing Estate to be used for purpose of storing 5,340 kilogrammes of Tramadol, a substance similar to Cocaine, Heroin and LSD and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 12 of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Act CAP N30 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004 ( as amended)
Count Two read: “That you Nsofor Kennedy Ugochukwu a.k.a. Ugochukwu Nsofor Chukwukadibia, male, adult, Nigerian citizen of Plot Z – 130, Road 67 VGC Housing Estate, Lagos, on or about September 30, 2022 at about 1400 hrs within the jurisdiction of this honourable court without lawful authority possessed 5,340 kilogrammes of Tramadol, a substance similar to Cocaine, Heroin and LSD and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Act CAP N30 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004 ( as amended)
After listening to the charge preferred against him, Nsofor Kennedy Ugochukwu pleaded not guilty to the three counts.
Recall that during the last vacation, the vacation judge, Justice Akintayo Aluko of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos had granted an order sought by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to detain Nsofor Kennedy Ugochukwu in its custody for a period of 14 days pending the conclusion of ongoing investigation for alleged drug trafficking.
The court had granted the order following an exparte application brought by NDLEA Prosecutor, Mr Umar Hussain, which empowered the Agency to remand the defendant in its custody for an initial period of 14 days.
In an affidavit in support of the Motion Exparte deposed to by one Kareem Olayinka Musibau, a litigation officer attached to the Directorate of Prosecution and Legal Services at the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, it was averred “that the suspect was arrested at Plot-2-130, Road 67 VGC Housing Estate along Epe Express Way in Lagos on the 30th day of September, 2022 in connection to the seizure of 10,598 kilogrammes of tramadol, while dealing and conspiring to distribute same to his associates in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
“That the Respondent is an illicit drug baron operating a Drug Trafficking Organisation in collaboration with his associates in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
“That this court has the powers under the law to make the orders sought on the motion paper 9.
“That it will serve the interest of justice if this Application is granted.”
NDLEA’s Director, Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, had earlier in his submission said that following credible intelligence, NDLEA operatives on Friday 30th of September, 2022 stormed Plot A45 Road 2 home of the 52-year-old billionaire drug kingpin.
Babafemi stated that a search of the expansive mansion led to the discovery of 443 cartons of Tramadol Hydrochloride 225mg, which contains 13,451,466 pills of the drug while some cartons were already burnt in a fire incident in the house same day.
“Before his arrest, Ugochukwu who hails from Ihiala Local Government area of Anambra State has been on the agency’s watch list as one of those behind the tramadol drug cartel in Nigeria.
“Preliminary investigation shows that he has about six mansions within the VGC, one of which he uses to warehouse the tramadol consignment, while he lives in the one at Plot Z-130 Road 67 and another as his office. Five exotic vehicles have also been located in two of his mansions, out of which two SUVs including a bulletproof jeep have been successfully removed to the Agency’s facility,” Babafemi said.
According to Babafemi, the arrest of Ugochukwu, who is the Chairman of Autonation Motors Limited is coming barely two months after NDLEA uncovered a methamphetamine clandestine laboratory in the residence of another drug kingpin in the estate, Chris Emeka Nzewi, who was arrested on Saturday 30th July, 2022 along with a chemist, Sunday Ukah, who cooked the illicit drug for him.