Stanley Enebeechi and Chinedu Chikulu through their lawyer asked the court to summon authorities at the DEA to return several valuable items seized from their homes by officers of the agency.
The men in their motion for “Return of Properties and Suppression of Evidence,” claimed that on September 8, 2012, officers of the DEA armed with guns, cutlasses and other weapons, stormed the GSA Road and Thinker Village residences of their clients.
In the motion, their lawyers argued that without a warrant from a court, the officers arrested their clients and took away US$3,200, LD$2,500, a gold ring valued at US$800, a gold bracelet valued as US$350 and a Nigerian passport.
But the prosecution in his argument told the court that their action was in harmony with the law.
He argued further that the men were undergoing investigations by a Board of Investigators when they allegedly broke their cells and escaped.
The prosecution maintained that the law gave them the right to arrest any 'hardcore criminal' without a search warrant, if the person is caught committing a crime.
He told the court that DEA’s status gave the officers the mandate to carry arms.
According to him, while in pursuit of the alleged drug dealers, they (dealers) fled the scene and ran into a building where they were arrested with 50.0 grams of cocaine valued at US$4,500.
It is based on this that the prosecution asked the court to hold the alleged suspected drug dealers in contempt for misleading the court.
In his ruling Thursday, Magistrate Nelson B. Chinoe said that the action by the DEA officers to arrest the alleged Nigerian drug dealers without a search warrant did not violate any portion of the law.
He said the laws also demand that a warrant must be served a person before searching his or her premises. But in some cases if the officers have a probable cause or a reasonable evidence to arrest the suspect especially a hardcore criminal, he or she can do it without a warrant, using the case in point as an example.
He said that when such an arrest is made, the officer is given 48 hours to issue a warrant to the arrested individuals.
Therefore, Magistrate Chinoe ruled that “the application requesting the return of properties, etc., was denied---and the culprits…re-arrested.”
He further ruled that “after probing the matter…a legal ground was found to hold the defendants in contempt of court. Meanwhile, the motion for the return of confiscated properties to the suspects, pending the DEA’s continuation of their investigations,” was denied.
Minutes after leaving the court’s premises, the Deputy Director for Operations at the DEA, Albert K. Chelley, said he was now happy that justice was underway.
He used the situation to warn those would-be drug dealers to stop immediately or they are going to pursue them.
“We are not going to rest until our country is drug-free. Let me warn those drug dealers that we are going after them; anywhere they are found, we are going to get them. Stop now or be arrested,” Director Chelley stressed.