The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), today, arraigned a suspected Lebanese drug traffickers, Charbel Chalouhi, for alleged use of cocaine.
According to the one count charge,
Charbel Chalouhi, male, 34 years old, was said to have on or about September 10, 2018, at 18, flat BB Simon Akinolu street, Victoria Island, Lagos state, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court without lawful, authority engaged in the use of 1.2 grammes of Cocaine a narcotic drug and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 11(d) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act, Cap N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
When the matter came up for up today, the prosecution Mr Jerry Aernan, told the trial judge, Justice N. Ayo-Emmanuel that he has a one count charge before the court in respect of the defendant and pleaded with the court that the charge be read to the defendant.
Consequently, the one count charge was read to the defendant who pleaded not guilty to it.
Following the not-guilty plea of the accused, the prosecutor asked the court for a trial date and that the defendant be remanded in prison pending trial.
However, counsel to Chalouhi, Chief Benson Ndakara, in his response, told Justice Ayo-Emmanuel that while he will not be opposing the application for a trial date, however pleaded that the defendant be asked to continue with the administrative bail earlier granted to him by the NDLEA.
Ndakara said the defendant is having serious health challenges as he recently undergoes a complex surgery as a s result of which the Lebanese Consul General in Lagos, out of concern for his life took concern about the matter and wrote the NDLEA with the medical reports.
Ndakara also told the court that there is the issue of threshold, that is, the quantity of drugs which NDLEA usually prosecute a suspect for. Adding that as a matter of fact and based on his experience as a former NDLEA Commander and the fact that 75 percent of the cases he handles in court are drug related, he is conversant that the NDLEA threshold is 5 grams.
He further added that based on this facts, he had contacted the NDLEA authority on possibility on converting the present charge which deals with just 1.2 gramms to counselling as this is what is proper to do.
In his ruling, Justice Ayo-Emmanuel held that defendant should continue on the condition earlier granted to him due to his health challenges.
He, however, ruled that all documents relating to the earlier bail granted should be transmitted to the court and verified by the NDLEA.
The anti- narcotic agency had earlier granted administrative bail to the defendant with two Nigerian officials of the Lebanese Embassy standing as sureties, with letter of undertaking to produce the defendant for trail.
The defendant was also ordered to deposit his international passport with the NDLEA, while the Consul General should also sign a letter of undertaking to produce the defendant in case he jump bail
In addition, the sureties were to sign a bail bond.
It would be recalled the the NDLEA during a recent raid arrested the Lebanese chef, Charbel Chalouhi, suspected of dealing in drugs.
Chalouhi, of 18, Wahab Ogunbambo Street, off Simeon Akinlonu Crescent, Victoria Island, was said to have been arrested following a tip-off from worried residents of the area
Also arrested during the raid were his Lebanese girlfriend and Nigerian driver, both suspected of being his accomplices.