Barristers & Solicitors
Surety jailed for aiding drug baron’s escape

A professional surety, Jude Okpala (a.k.a Stephen Ekpanisi), who aided a drug baron, Okpala Mathew Emmy, to escape from custody, was on Thursday convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment by a Federal High Court in Lagos state.

The fugitive drug baron was arraigned before the court in charge No: FHC/L/217c/10, by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.

During the arraignment of the drug baron, the convict, Ekpanisi, stood for him as a surety, after he was admitted to bail by the court.

However, during the pendency of the charge, the drug baron became evasive and failed to appear before the court to face his trial.

Consequently, the NDLEA arrested the convicted professional surety and charged him to court on two counts bordering on aiding and abetting in the charge marked FHC/L/123c/2014.

At the hearing of the charge on Thursday, the prosecutor told the court that he has a two-count charge against the professional surety, and urged the court to permit the reading of the charges to the surety.

After the review of the facts, of the case, Nwagwu urged the court to convict the defendant based on his guilty plea and the evidence placed before the court.

Justice Nicholas Oweibo, in his ruling, convicted the surety as charged.

Following Okpala’s conviction, his counsel, Benson Ndakara, pleaded with the court to have mercy on the convict, saying he was a first-time offender who did not waste the time of the court before he pleaded guilty.

After listening to the convict’s counsel allocutus, Justice Oweibo in his judgment sentenced the professional surety to two years’ imprisonment.

The judge, however, ordered the convict to pay a fine of N60, 000 in lieu of the jail term.