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My Statement Was Obtained Under Duress,Drug Trafficking Suspect Cries Out

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NAN – A 34-year-old man, Anthony Ejiro, accused of drug trafficking, has told a Federal High Court in Kaduna that his statement was obtained under duress by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

When counsel to NDLEA, Mr T.J. Atserhegh sought to tender the accused statement as evidence before the court, the defence counsel, Mr E.Y Garuba objected on the ground that the statement was obtained under duress.

Garuba also told the court that his client was not arrested on Feb. 7, 2015 and neither was his statement taken on that date as contained in the statement.

He argued that his client was in NDLEA custody for more than 10 days before the purported statement was taken, adding that his client was sick on the day he was said to have written the statement.

The prosecution applied to establish the voluntariness of the statement where the accused confessed to have committed the crime and a trial within trial was conducted.

Two witnesses testified for the prosecution, while the accused testified in the trial within a trial.

“The officials of the NDLEA forced me to write the statement.

“They pushed me around; put a gun on my head and threatened to shoot me if I did not cooperate.

“As far as I can tell, that statement was not voluntarily made, because they dictated what I wrote, and out of fear I obliged and did as I was told, “Ejiro told the court.

However, when cross-examined by the prosecution counsel, Ejiro agreed that he was arrested on February 7 and his statement was taken on that same day.

The accused equally agreed with the content of the statement on information about him was correct.

Ejiro of Kakau village, Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State has been standing trial since May 5, 2015, on a two-count charge of illegal possession of 8, 241.9 kilogrammes of Indian hemp.

He was also accused of conniving with four others, now at large, to deal in the illicit weed.

Counsel to NDLEA said that the offences were contrary to and punishable under Sections 11 (d) and 14 (b) of NDLEA Act, Cap 30, Laws of the Federation 2004.

Justice E. Anyadike adjourned the case to May 30 for ruling on the trial within trial.

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