An alleged Nigerian drug baron and his accomplice have sued the Executive Secretary of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), Mr Yaw Akrasi Sarpong, for contempt of court over certain remarks he made regarding bail granted them by the Criminal Division of the Accra High Court.
Chief Sunny Ikechukwu and his alleged accomplice, James Elike Chukwu, have been charged with narcotic drug related offences and been on remand since 2013 for allegedly attempting to smuggle 281,604 grammes of liquid cocaine, with a street value of $12 million.
The two were, however, granted bail in the sum of GH¢200,000, with three sureties, each by the court, presided over by Mr Justice J.K. Dorgu, on June 16, 2016.
The court ordered that the sureties should be Ghanaians who were gainfully employed and whose places of abode should be known to the police.
Mr Akrasi Sarpong, in an interview with the Daily Graphic on June 17, 2016, which was subsequently published in the June 20, 2016 edition of the national daily, criticised the bail and described it as unfortunate because Ikechukwu had a notorious record of outwitting security agencies all over the world.
He said Chief Ikechukwu was known to have jumped bail in Brazil and all the international drug agencies were hard on his tail but could not arrest him until he was arrested in Ghana.
In view of the supposed record of the accused, the NACOB boss expressed the view that the court, in exercising its discretion in granting bail, should have considered the past record of the accused, which he said was in the public domain.
Mr Sarpong was reported to have expressed his disappointment at the bail and said the fight against organised crime was not the responsibility of only the security agencies but the whole justice delivery system in the country.
The NACOB boss further warned that in the event that the accused persons escaped, NACOB should not be blamed because the agency would not use its limited resources to monitor the activities of Chief Ikechukwu and his alleged accomplice.
The interview granted by the NACOB boss and its subsequent publication have angered Chief Ikechukwu and Elike Chukwu, and their legal team, on July 8, 2016, filed an application for the court to commit the NACOB boss for contempt of court.
According to their application, the interview Mr Sarpong granted to the Daily Graphic was an affront to the rule of law and had “impugned the integrity of the court”.
“The comments were prejudicial and can affect justice delivery in this case and, therefore, the respondent (Mr Sarpong) ought to purge himself of same,’’ the application said.
The legal team of the two accused persons will move the motion for the application on Wednesday.
At last Friday’s sitting of the court, the legal team of Ikechukwu and Elike Chukwu also complained to the court that NACOB was frustrating the execution of the bail.
Counsel for Ikechukwu, Mr Augustine Obour, claimed that NACOB wrote a very prejudicial letter to the workplace of one of the people who had agreed to stand surety for him ( Ikechukwu).
According to him, the purpose of the letter was to verify the workplace of the person, but NACOB twisted the letter and painted Ikechukwu as a drug lord who would be of harm to society when granted bail.
“Justice must be seen to be done. A court has granted bail and an investigative body is frustrating the execution of the bail. To them (NACOB), the court has erred by granting the bail and, therefore, they will do anything to frustrate its execution. As of now the accused persons are still in custody due to the actions of NACOB,’’ he argued.
The prosecutor, a State Attorney, Ms Joyce Debrah, in her response, told the court that she had no knowledge of the purported letter that counsel for the accused person was referring to and prayed the court to give her more time to study it.
The court granted her prayer and adjourned the case to July 13, 2016.
On February 13, 2013, the Daily Graphic carried a story about the seizure of the largest quantity of cocaine in recent years at the Tema Harbour, estimated at 200 kilogrammes, with a street value of $12 million.
The drug was concealed in a 40-footer container filled with 1,946 boxes of shampoo imported from Bolivia in South America to Ghana.
Chief Ikechukwu, a 53-year-old Nigerian businessman, was alleged to be the owner and was arrested, together with an alleged accomplice, James Elike Chukwu, 47, a second-hand clothes dealer in Accra.
Chief Ikechukwu was described by international law enforcement agencies as a notorious drug baron who had been involved in several drug seizures in Brazil and Bolivia.
Source: radioxyzonline.com/with files from graphic