Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Trial resumes for alleged Nigerian drug traffickers

Trial resumes for alleged Nigerian drug traffickers

A group of eight Nigerians arrested for drug trafficking appear at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.
A group of eight Nigerians arrested for drug trafficking appear at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday. Niem Chheng

Trial resumes for alleged Nigerian drug traffickers

The case of eight Nigerian nationals and a Cambodian woman arrested on allegations of drug trafficking resumed at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, with police saying that the group worked together as team despite several of the defendants’ denials.

All eight Nigerians were arrested on January 8, 2015, at three different places, while their alleged ringleader, Obieze Kenneth Uche, also known as John or Jack, is still at large. Morm Vanyong, a Cambodian woman who allegedly worked in the operation, was also arrested.

Police found drugs and scales in Uche’s apartment, and anti-drug police official Yin Panharith said the arrests were made after months of surveillance and undercover activities.

“They had a structure. Their leader is Jack, who had a Cambodian wife. Jack told all the suspects to bring drugs to the buyers by passing them through their agents, one to one,” Panharith said.

Defendant Tony Chukwuonye yesterday testified that he had brought drugs from Uche to Vanyong only once, though police had accused him of doing it several times, most recently bringing her four packages of drugs and receiving almost $20,000 from her. Police also said they found two sets of scales at Chukwuonye’s house.

Judge Khy Chai also questioned defendants Okorom Nhabui Favour and Okorom Kizito Chimedu, brothers who were arrested in a church near Boeung Tompun, asking Favour why did not cooperate with the police.

“You locked the door and went upstairs for three hours until the police broke the door down. Why did you do that?” Chai asked.

Favour responded he had been frightened by the sight of men in plain clothes with guns, but Panharith accused him and two other suspects of trying to destroy evidence.

Fellow defendant Francis Nnamdi, meanwhile, admitted to meeting Vanyong, but said he had believed the meeting was related to a community organisation he was involved with. He denied having any knowledge of the other defendants.

Four other defendants – Okarom Kizito Chimedu, Simon Maduka Ukandu, Sunday Nwa Buisi and Nna Mezie Victor – denied any involvement in the trafficking, but said they had seen each other at church.

Vanyong and the last Nigerian defendant, Izuchukwu Chukwuma, did not testify yesterday, and judge Chai said he wanted to try Vanyong separately.

The hearing will resume at an unspecified date.

MOST VIEWED

  • Stock photo agencies cash in on Khmer Rouge tragedy
    Stock-photo companies selling images from S-21 raises ethics concerns

    A woman with short-cropped hair stares directly into the camera, her head cocked slightly to the side. On her lap is a sleeping infant just barely in the frame. The woman was the wife of a Khmer Rouge officer who fell out of favour, and

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the