Court orders NDLEA to produce detained business man

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In compliance with the order of a Federal High Court in Lagos, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, has produced in court a Lagos-based business man, Alhaji Abdulwaheed Abdulraheem, who has been in the custody of the Agency since October 18, 2023.

But because the court did not sit, the case was adjourned till Monday December 4, 2023.

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The order issued by the presiding Judge Daniel Osiagor to produce the applicant was sequel to a fundamental human rights enforcement suit filed before the court to enforce the fundamental right of the applicant by a Lagos lawyer, Barrister Bayo Onifade.

In an affidavit sworn to by the wife of the applicant, Mrs Raheema Abdulraheem, filed and argued before the court, by Barrister Bayo Onifade

Mrs Abdulraheem averred that her husband is an accredited and International Agent and Consultant involved in the procurement of visas, accommodation and travel arrangements of intending pilgrims for Umrah and Hajj Operations.

He is the Managing Director of Kaother Abdussalam Hasan Establishment Limited and he is also a Consultant to Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti States on Umrah and Hajj Operations.

In the course of the recent Umrah and Hajj Pilgrimage, the applicant had about 88 pilgrims for which he was responsible for their visa procurement, accommodation and travel arrangements.

Of these 88 pilgrims, 10 left from the United States of America for the Umrah and Hajj; three left from Canada and two from the United Kingdom.

The remaining 73 Pilgrims from Nigeria departed from the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja

 The Applicant was arrested at his office Shop on A79 NAF Shopping Mall Local /International Airport Road Ikeja, Lagos on 18 October, 2023 in the presence of his driver and personal Assistant.

Upon his arrest, his premises were searched and nothing incriminating was found on him. However, his Toyota Highlander vehicle, Samsung fold Phone, IPhone, office documents, an old passport, wristwatch, bag and Two Thousand Dollars ($2000) only were taken away by the Agents of the Respondent.

A search was further conducted in his house in the night around 1. 30a.m but nothing incriminating nor any illicit drugs were recovered.

When she visited him in the custody of the Agency on 16 November, 2023, he informed her and she verily believed him as follows:

  • He was subjected to interrogations and asked to explain how three of the Pilgrims under his custody came about substances suspected to be hard drugs at Saudi Arabia.
  • He wrote a statement in the presence of one of his Counsels shortly after his arrest.
  • In his statement he informed the NDLEA officers that one of his customers, Ayo Felicia, requested for six slots for intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for Umrah and Hajj. However, he informed his customer that he was only able to secure three slots but before he could inform the customer that he could only secure three slots, he had made over 90% payment for six slots.
  • That the said customer informed him that one of her sisters in Kano wanted to sponsor some intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for Hajj, however, since he had space for three (3) pilgrims she would require the three spaces.     
  • He gave the officers of the Agency the names, phone number and address of this customer in Saudi Arabia.
  • From his phone, the officers of the Agency were able to confirm the correspondence between him and his customer.
  •  However, he was informed that unless and except this customer was arrested, he would be in kept in detention in perpetuity.
  • He informed the officers that he does not know these three pilgrims and that he was innocent of the charges against him.
  • Following the Applicant’s detention, one of his Counsel from the chambers of Idowu Sofola SAN wrote two letters dated 2nd November, 2023 and 14th November, 2023 to the Commander National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Murtala Mohammed International Airport Ikeja and to the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Respondent respectively applying for the administrative bail of the Applicant. However, neither the Respondent nor its officers responded to the request of the Counsel.
  • That on the 16th November, 2023, outside the premises of the Respondent’s office NAHCO along Airport Road Ikeja, Lagos, one of the Counsels by name Paschal Bekeh Esq informed me and I verily believe him as follows:
  • The continued detention of the Applicant by the Respondent is a grave infringement of the Applicant’s constitutionally guaranteed right to personal liberty, fair hearing and the presumption of innocence.
  • That the Fundamental Principles upon which bail is founded are:

(i)    That a Defendant/Applicant is presumed innocent until he is proven guilty and that before Conviction, bail is a right and the burden is therefore on the Respondent to show why the Applicant should not enjoy these right.

The Respondent’s recourse the indefinite detention of the Applicant without charging him to Court is a calculated attempted to subject the Applicant to emotional torture and frustrate him.

All efforts to secure the administrative bail of the Applicant from the Respondent’s wrongful detention has proved abortive and the continuous detention of the Applicant has caused immeasurable physical and psychological trauma to the Applicant who is now sickly and ill.

The continued detention of the Applicant has caused untold hardship on the Applicant, on me and all other family members including his aged father and his businesses.

That unless and except this Honourable Court intervenes, the Respondent will continue to detain the Applicant in custody perpetually.

That the Applicant has severally reiterated his innocence to her and he verily believe him.

It will be in the interest of justice if this application is granted and the Respondent would not be prejudiced by the grant of this application.

After hearing the submissions of Mr. Onifade moved in terms of the motion papers, and after careful consideration of the application and submissions of the counsel, the presiding Judge Daniel Osiagor ordered that the applicant Alhaji Abdulwaheed Abdulraheem should be produced in court on Friday December 1. He was produced but the court did not sit, hence the case was adjourned till Monday 4 December, 2023.

Meanwhile, in a further affidavit sworn to by one Mr Ibrahim Hassan Omoidunnu who is the personal assistant to Alhaji Abdulwaheed Abdulraheem, he stated that on 18 October, 2023, he was arrested alongside with his boss but bailed by Mrs Raheem Abdulwaheed on 21 October, 2023.

He stated that on 21 November, 2023, when he visited his boss in the custody of NDLEA, he told him that when NDLEA officers from Abuja came to interview him in the presence of his wife conducted under video coverage, he complained of ill health, and when he was taken to the Nigerian Air force Hospital, the Medical Director prescribed that he should be allowed to be walking in the evening. However, the operatives of the Agency never adhered to this instruction.

The crux of his Statement and interview was on the arrest of three women who were found with hard drugs in Saudi Arabia.

The three women were Ahmed Adam Zulaihat with Passport No BO1864994, Nasid Binta with Passport No: BO1865125 and Abdullahi Rashida with Passport No: BO1864447.

He informed the operatives of the Respondent that these three women were among 88 pilgrims he processed their Visas, accommodation and travel arrangements to Saudi Arabia for the recently conducted Hajj and Umrah Pilgrimages; that one Ayo Felicia a customer residing in Saudi Arabia forwarded the Passport of the three women to him and paid him for their Hajj arrangements i.e. Visas, accommodation and travel arrangements.

That he showed the operatives of the Respondent proof of payment by his customer Ayo Felicia from his Phone.

That he informed the operatives of the Respondent, that he never met and does not know those three women arrested in Saudi Arabia, neither did he ever communicate with them as he dealt solely with the said Ayo Felicia and he returned the Passport of the three women to Ayo Felicia. These facts were confirmed in his telephone chats.

That besides his Statement which was obtained on 21 October, 2023 and the video interview of 3 November, 2023, the operatives of the Respondent have never called him for any questioning or investigation. Rather he has just been kept in incarceration and refused several applications and request for administrative bail.

That the operatives of the Respondent have in their possession his telephones and have gone through it severally and found that he never had any communication with the three women arrested in Saudi Arabia and all he did was to process their visas, accommodation and travel arrangements just as he did for all the eighty-eight (88) pilgrims.

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