LIBERIA – The Judge at the Monrovia City Court has denied bail to suspects in the US$100 Million drug trafficking case.
The Liberia National Police had forwarded to court suspects in the $100 Million cocaine saga.
Culprits had been charged with drugs trafficking, money laundering, Criminal Conspiracy, and criminal facilitation amongst others crimes, after their arrests on October 1, 2022.
The arrest was largely made possible with a tip-off from United States security agencies from the point of departure in South America up to arrival in Monrovia.
The defendants, who appeared in the Monrovia City Court over the weekend, were charged following the denial of a writ of habeas corpus filed to Judge Roosevelt Willie of Criminal Court “A”, by lawyers representing the defendants; who argued that the cocaine suspects were detained for more than 48 hours as enshrined in Article 21 (f) of the constitution of Liberia without being charged and based on said provision, they should be released and placed under their supervision.
In their petition filed to the court, defense lawyers prayed the court to grant the writ of habeas corpus; thus releasing their clients to them, until charges are made and they are forwarded to a court of competent jurisdiction.
In counter-arguments, prosecution lawyers headed by Deputy Minister of Justice and Solicitor General-designate Cllr. Nyenti Tuan told the court that the defendants were kept for more than 48 hours but said it was based on security reasons.
The Judge however in his ruling quoted Article 21 section g of the constitution which states ” the right to habeas corpus, being essential to the protection of human rights shall be guaranteed at all times and any person arrested or detained and not presented to the court within the period specified may in consequence exercise this right”.
According to judge Willie, though the law recognizes the importance of the Writ of habeas corpus, which he called the ” Great Writ”, he revealed that there are exceptions though not stated, re-implemented, especially when the detention of accused borders around National Security issues.
The Judge, however, quashed the request and urged the state to forward the accused to court at the same time requesting the petitioners to file a Bill of information before the court on or before Monday, November 7, 2022.
Those involved include three foreign nationals; Makki Ahmed Issam, Adulai Djibril Djalo, and a Liberian identified as Oliver Allen Zayzay.
The Crimes committed by the defendants contravene Chapter 14, Sections 14.101, 107and 111; Chapter 10 Sections 10.2 and 10.4 respectively of the New Penal Code law of Liberia
According to a police charge sheet in the possession of an online news outlet “News Public Trust”, defendant Malam, Conte a 31-year-old Guinea Bissau national was arrested on October 1, 2022, when he had gone to purchase the container bearing MNBU4070592 with five hundred and twenty kilograms (520kgs) of cocaine worth over $100 million, that was shipped to the Compound of SONIT Liberia Corporation, located in Topoe Village, a suburb of Monrovia.
He had with him the amount of $200 thousand which was given to him by Codefendant Djalo, in order to purchase the container.
During an in-depth investigation, after his arrest, defendant Conte told investigators that he and co-defendant Adulai Djibril Djalo, left Guinea Bissau and arrived in Monrovia on September 19, 2022, with the intention to collect the cocaine container from it arrival point.
Like with defendant Conte, on Thursday, October 6, 2022, Makki Ahmed Issam, a Lebanese national residing on 21 street Sinkor, was arrested along with Codefendants Adulai D. Djalo and Oliver Allen Zayzay, who were turned over to the Police with help from the Sierra Leonean government, who initially arrested the suspects while they were fleeing the country.
Liberian authorities on October 1, 2022, confirmed that they had seized some $100 million worth of cocaine, with help from the United States international narcotics agency.
During that time, the Justice Minister, Musa Dean informed reporters that the national Drug Enforcement Agency, with help from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, had made the seizure on October 1, 2022, at the SONIT Liberia Corporation compound in Topoe village on the Japan Freeway, a suburb of the capital, Monrovia.
During that period, defendant Malam Conte was arrested while trying to retrieve the container from the entity and subsequent arrest was made by the LNP
The drugs were confiscated and burnt by the Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency and other security agencies within the country with help from the US Embassy in Monrovia.
Meanwhile, the defendants have been sent to the Monrovia Central Prison and they are waiting to be tried in a court of competent jurisdiction.