By Olalekan Awojodu, Abuja
The Federal High Court, Abuja Thursday dismissed a bail application filed by ASP Bawa James, a co-defendant in the drug trafficking case preferred against suspended DCP Abba Kyari and others.
The NDLEA had, on March 7, arraigned Kyari (1st defendant) and six others on allegations bordering on cocaine deal.
The embattled crime burster was arraigned alongside four suspended police officers including ACP Sunday Ubia, ASP James, Insp. Simon Agirigba and Insp. John Nuhu as 2nd to 5th defendants respectively..
Also arraigned with them are Chibunna Umeibe and Emeka Ezenwanne, the two alleged drug traffickers who were arrested at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu.
But in a ruling,Justice Emeka Nwite held that the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) had succeeded in proving why the court should not admit James to a bail.
Earlier, Justice Nwite had, on March 28, fixed today for ruling on bail application filed by James after Kyari and other co-defendants’ bail pleas were rejected on the grounds that James’ application was not ripe for hearing.
Although before now the five officers pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them, but Umeibe and Ezenwanne, who are 6th and 7th defendants respectively, pleaded guilty to five, six and seven counts preferred against them.
In his ruling, the judge aligned with the argument of counsel for NDLEA, Joseph Sunday, that James (3rd defendant) was a flight risk and that he might jump bail.
Nwite said that the 3rd defendant had failed to bring up strong evidence to challenge the anti-narcatic agency’s submission that the character of evidence against him was very serious.
He said though the defence argued that the court had the discretionary power to rule in favour of the applicant since the offence was a bailable one, he was mindful to consider the submission of the prosecution.
The judge therefore refused to grant James bail and adjourned the matter until May 26.
His Defence counsel had argued that ASP James had a good record as staff of the Nigerian police and had conducted himself well in the course of the trial.
But countering in an affidavit, the NDLEA, said it would be improper and inappropriate for the court to grant him bail considering the nature of the case.
The agency premises it’s arguement on sufficient materials that had been placed before the court to refuse the bail plea.
It said that James was charged with serious offence and the agency is also investigating him on money laundering offence which might be charged to court soon.
It alleged further that the applicant, if granted bail, might run away from justice considering their connection with elements of police and criminal underworld.
The NDLEA argued further that the suspended officer might undermine the criminal justice process if admitted to bail.
But James, through his counsel, had disagreed with all the allegations by the NDLEA.
He said that contrary to the NDLEA’s allegations, there was no evidence to suggest that he had connection with criminal elements.
In his submission, he said his suspension as police officer was not that he was already guilty of the offences to which he was charged with but to allow for fair trial.