Nigerian businessman decries ‘media trial’ over drug peddling charge

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Nigerian businessman decries ‘media trial’ over drug peddling charge

A Nigerian businessman has lamented damage done by alleged media trials to the reputation of people wrongly accused of crime in Nigeria.

Etomchukwu Ubah, popularly known as Toscana, spoke while reacting to a ruling by the Federal High Court, a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday by his media aide, Francess Ogbonnaya, said.

Mr Ubah who is the CEO of Visoch Resources Ltd was in 2015 suspected of illegally exporting 576kgs of narcotics to South Africa through the Apapa Port.

The drug made up of 266kg of methamphetamine and 310kgs of ephedrine valued at N4.6 billion were hidden inside noodles, cereals and palm oil, NDLEA said at the time of his arrest.


However, in 2021, the matter was dismissed by the court and he was freed.

According to a judgment document seen by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Ubah and 13 other defendants stood trial on “eight count charge of conspiracy to export, dealing and exporting methamphetamine, a drug similar to Cocaine, Heroin and LSD and Ephedrine a Controlled Substance contrary to and punishable under Sections L4(b), 11(b), 20(1)(a) 8{ (2)(b), 19 and 20(1X0 &. (2)(a), of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act, Cap N30, LFN respective in March 2016 and “discharged and acquitted on all counts” in 2021.

However, Mr Ubah was only mentioned in three counts — conspiracy, to deal with exportation and unlawful dealing in the substances.


The court ruled that there was no evidence linking the first defendant (Mr Ubah), who was described by the prosecution as the “hub of the crime”, to the container containing the narcotics.

“The first defendant was not seen where the container was being stuffed or packed, nor was the third defendant,” the court said.

“Those are the only defendants who seemed to have a connection with the container. What is more, the packing list for the container was never tendered and there is no evidence of a bill of lading in the name of any of the defendants relating to the container in issue.

“It is the case for the prosecution that because the phone numbers of all the defendants, save the third defendant, were found on the phone call log of the first defendant, that was why they were charged to court.

“That was the testimony of PW10 who himself admitted that being on a person’s phone log is not evidence that he conspired with that person to commit a crime. I do not also agree with the prosecutor that the defendants ought to explain their conversations and transactions with the 1″ defendant. In any event, there is no evidence that the said call logs were analysed and there is no forensic evidence of any such analysis before the court,” the judge said.


Count two deals with exportation of narcotics. According to the evidence before the court, it was not the first defendant that brought the container to the Apapa seaport.

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“Indeed, the evidence before the court is that the first defendant was never seen around the container during the surveillance that led to the first defendant being invited to identify the container,” the document shows.

“None of the defendants (apart from the first defendant) was also at the Apapa Port. Even the first defendant’s presence at the Seaport was pursuant to investigations by the NDLEA and not in furtherance of a crime.”

The court also said that the prosecution did not prove that Mr Ubah had any “connection” with the container.

“I must therefore find and hold that there is no ground for proceeding with the charge of unlawfully exporting narcotics against all the defendants. All the defendants are therefore hereby discharged and acquitted as per count 2.”

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Unlawful dealings

This charge has to do with unlawfully dealing with the said substance.

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“Generally in this charge, PW10 (a witness) has made a case of the defendants by testifying that there was nothing whatsoever to connect the defendants with the charge before the Court,” the judge ruled.

“There is even no evidence that any of the defendants had anything to do with the substances. Accordingly I find that there is no case against all the defendants as regards Count 3.

All the defendants are discharged and acquitted as regards Counts 1 – 3.”

The court also ordered that the money found at the first defendant’s (Mr Ubah) residence be returned to him.

Business setback

Mr Ubah said since being cleared in 2021 of the drug charges, the media that earlier reported his arrest failed to report his acquittal.

He said this has affected his business.

READ ALSO: NDLEA seizes 4.8 tonnes of skunk in five states

“For example since 2021, the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi cleared me of all count charges bordering on illegal importation of drugs, but the media which went into town in 2015 with the allegations didn’t deem it necessary and professional to report back to Nigerians and the whole world that I was found innocent,” Mr Ubah said.

“Have you imagined the impact of the allegations on my family and even business?

He, however, thanked his family and partners for “always believing in him.”

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