NDLEA to arraign South African, Nigerian for cocaine trafficking



Ramon Oladime

A Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed August 4, 2016 for the re-arraignment of a South African woman, Lerato Lekganyane, who was caught with 1.21 kilogrammes of cocaine.

Lekganyane was said to have been apprehended on May 20, 2016 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, while attempting to transport the illicit substance out of Nigeria.

The prosecuting counsel for the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Mr. Augustine Nwagu, had told the court that Lekganyane acted contrary to Section 11(b) of the NDLEA Act Cap N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

The accused had earlier been arraigned and pleaded guilty to one count pressed against her by the agency, after which Justice Babs Kuewumi adjourned till Tuesday for review of the facts of the case and sentencing.

The prosecutor, however, informed the court on Tuesday that he needed to amend the charge sheet as Lekganyane’s accomplice, a Nigerian, had also been arrested and brought to court.

He said trying Lekganyane and the Nigerian accomplice would ensure smoothness of the trial.

“I was informed this morning that the person that sponsored her for this trip has been arrested and they even brought him to court this morning but I told them that I could not file the charge now. I will be applying for a very short adjournment to enable me to amend the charge and join the second person that they have just arrested,” the prosecutor said.

The defence counsel, Chief (Mrs.) Lilian Omotunde, however, opposed Nwagu’s application for an adjournment, insisting that the prosecutor should proceed to review the facts of the case as earlier scheduled.

She said, “I am objecting to this application made by the prosecuting counsel in view of the fact that the matter was slated for review of facts today and the defendant has already pleaded guilty. She is a foreigner; she has accepted her guilt. I expected my colleague to have gone ahead for the review.

“Only few minutes ago I was informed that a Nigerian who is the mastermind is in court. If it pleases Your Lordship, I will be applying that we go ahead with the review of the case. My learned friend knows what to do with the mastermind that has just been arrested.”

But Nwagu urged the court to grant him the adjournment, saying it would be neater to try the two accused at the same time.

In a short ruling, Justice Kuewumi said the prosecution was entitled to the right to amend its charge if it wished.

He adjourned till August 4, 2016 for further proceedings.

Courtesy: The Punch





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