Another drug trafficking scandal is brewing in one of Nigeria’s major companies barely two years it was involved in yet to be resolved transnational drug smuggling.
According to our investigation, a vessel supposedly importing sugar products for BUA was arrested on Wednesday following an intelligence report made available to the Nigeria Navy and large quantity of substances suspected to be hard drugs were discovered on Friday morning in Lagos
Investigation revealed that the vessel named MV COOPER ISLAND is currently detained at Josepdam Tin can Island Port, Lagos, Nigeria.
Recall that truthlivenews.com media had published a special report in December, 2022 , where it reported that on Monday, November 7, 2022, a Lagos Federal High Court discharged seven Indian citizens and one Nigerian who had been charged by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) with illegally bringing cocaine into the country, but what was yet to be unraveled is the true details of how the said drugs found its way into the cargo meant for a Nigerian company by the name, BUA.
Friday’s discovery by the Navy has further strengthened the insinuation in some quarters that BUA has a case to answer over the smuggling of hard drugs into Nigeria through their cargoes.
The seven Indians released by the court presided over by Justice Ayokunle Faji are Singh Vikash; Kunnaserypallam Ashraf Inzam; Xaiver Fernando Santhanaria; Mandal Surjeet Ashok; Tandel Pratikkumar Pravinbai and Barthwal Rohan Sunil. While the Nigerian freed from the allegations was Shedrack Yurama.
However, investigations so far carried out by crime correspondents in London and Lagos revealed that while the foreigners who were found on board the ship were discharged and acquitted, the clearing agents hired to clear the supposed sugar-laden vessel declared wanted, the charterer of the vessel, Sea Pioneer Ltd based in the UK, as well as BUA International Ltd the importers, consignee, and receivers of the products which cocaines were found, operating in Nigeria were not mentioned in the said case from the beginning to the end of the case.
Several calls by our correspondent to the London office of Sea Pioneers to get the perspective of the charterer of the vessel were not successful, as the MD, Mr. Tumkaya Cemil the Turkish owner was said to be in a meeting or busy.
Meanwhile, based on the case brought before the federal high court by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Justice Faji had cleared the vessel crew who were all Indian nationals after upholding their no-case submissions filed by their counsel, Mr. Femi Atoyebi, Tunde Adejuyigbe, both Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), and others, in a three-count amended charge of conspiracy and unlawful importation of 43.1 kilograms of cocaine into Nigeria.
Another source informed that one Kunle Animanshaun, the operations manager at Oilways Logistics and Energy Ltd, having received the contract and documents to discharge the MV SPAR SCORPIO laden with the cargo of bulk sugar for BUA sugar refinery wrote to the area commander of NDLEA at Tincan, Lagos, on March 25, 2021, seeking for approval, which was granted him in a letter by the NDLEA, signed by one Sumaila Ethan cn, the area commander, keeping duly informed of the origin and destination of the cargo and of course the contents i.e, cocaine.
The questions arising from this whole story are, at what point did the Oilways Logistics and Energy Ltd and its MD, Franklyn Pereowei Godwin become suspects when their duties were only to discharge and deliver to BUA? Why is BUA or the vessel owners or charterers not mentioned at all?
These questions will be answered soon as our investigations are almost concluded if the documents available to us are anything to be considered.
In what many saw as a calculated lot to conceal some facts which we are digging out soon, the judge after the ruling which he set the foreigners free, also made a consequential order, for the release of traveling passports to all seven Indians.
Meanwhile, Justice Faji has adjourned till December 6, 8, and 9, for other defendants to open their defense.