A 58-year-old man, said to be notorious in illicit drug business, Jude Okoye, alias Zuma, was on Thursday arraigned by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency before the Federal High Court in Jos.
A report monitored from Punch, says Zuma was arraigned on eight charges bordering on illegal possession of controlled drugs.
The alleged drug merchant was said to have been arrested by NDLEA operatives on June 9, 2017, in his store at Apata Quarters, Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State.
The anti-narcotics agency claimed that the defendant was found in unlawful possession of 1.372Kg of Tramadol; 1,089Kg of cough syrup containing codeine, 28. 3Kg of Diazepam injection and 16Kg of Pentazocine injection.
The NDLEA described the drugs as psychotropic substances similar to cocaine and heroine.
Other substances allegedly found in the defendant’s possession included 18Kg of cough syrup containing codeine, 200g of Lorazepam tablets, 250g of Tramadol and 100g of Pentazocine injection.
The prosecuting counsel, Buhari Abdullahi, informed Justice Dorathy Agishi that by possessing such controlled drugs, the suspect had committed offences which contravened Section 19 of the NDLEA Act, Cap N30, Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
But when the charges were read to him, Okoye pleaded not guilty.
Abdullahi, therefore, prayed the court to commence his trial since he pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges preferred against him by the NDLEA.
He said, “My Lord, the frightening aspect is that most of these hard drugs found in the possession of the accused are expired drugs. If they had found their ways into the market, they would have posed serious dangers to the lives of innocent people of Nigeria.”
Two officers of the NDLEA gave testimonies about the arrest of the defendant and about the substances recovered from him.
The exhibit keeper of NDLEA, Etsu Daniel, who was a prosecution witness, told the court the exact quantity of each of the substances found in the possession of the accused and presented them to the court as exhibits.
Daniel told the court that he personally weighed the substances and labelled them for presentation before the court.
The Chief Superintendent Officer of the NDLEA (Plateau State Command), Ethna Karbe, also testified and accused Okoye of endangering the lives of unsuspecting innocent Nigerians, especially citizens of Plateau with the illicit drugs.
The defense counsel, Umar Shettiem, thereafter cross-examined the two witnesses.
Abdullahi, however, told the court that he had more witnesses against Okoye but asked for an adjournment to enable him to bring them to court to give their testimonies.
Justice Agishi adjourned the case till April 23 and 24 for continuation of hearing.