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High court acquits alleged drug dealer for lack of evidence

By Editor, Judiciary.

Justice Ayokunle O. Faji of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos on Thursday June 17, discharged and acquitted one Mr Frankline Chukwudumeme, alias Okey Wassa, (second defendant) who was charged to Court over alleged possession of a narcotic substance analysed and established to be cocaine.

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) had in 2017 brought a three -count criminal charge against two accused persons, (1st and 2nd defendants) alleging that they were in possession of the prohibited narcotic substance.

After arraignment, they were admitted to bail but the 1st defendant, Nnamchi Chinedu Joseph jumped bail and did not show up for the trial.

On the other hand, the 2nd defendant, Frankline Chukwudumeme alias Okey Wassa was in court throughout the trial and was represented by Tochukwu Onyiuke Esq while I. J. Ogumbor stood for NDLEA.

Delivering the judgement, Justice Faji held that mere presence of a person in a house where there was cocaine,does not mean that he was in possession of the substance.

He further held that the ingredients as captured in the section to which the accused was arraigned were not proved by the prosecution.

“The prosecution did not establish men rea” Justice Faji held.

“The second accused is hereby discharged and acquitted” the court ruled.

Earlier in his written submissions, second defendant counsel Tochukwu Onyiuke, in his issue for determination, argued
whether the prosecution has discharged the evidential burden of proof placed upon it pursuant to Section 135(1) of the evidence act.

He submitted that though the 2nd defendant was arrested in the house of the 1st defendant wherein the cocaine was at the centre of the sitting room on the table, there was no evidence to show that the 2nd defendant knew the contents of the bag in the room which contained cocaine

The mere presence of the 2nd defendant at the sitting room does not make him liable and the 2nd defendant cannot be seen to be in possession of the cocaine which was found in the 1st defendant’s house even though they were together.

“There is evidence from the 1st defendant that when he borrowed the sum of N3 million from the 2nd defendant, he did not tell him that it was for purchase of cocaine and therefore, there was no intention to deal in drugs” he submitted.