The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has vowed that the General Overseer of Christ Living Hope Church, Rev. Ugochukwu Emmanuel Ekwem, arrested with drugs at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport won’t be treated differently.
This is as the anti-narcotic agency clarified that his (Ekwem) cleric status won’t confer on him any preferential treatment during ongoing investigation and possible court processes.
“The arrested pastor won’t be treated differently,” the NDLEA Director, Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, told The PUNCH on Wednesday.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that operatives of the NDLEA arrested the cleric while on his way to a three-week crusade in Nairobi, Kenya, with 54 sticks of drugs wrapped around his body.
He was arrested on Monday 7th March, during the outward clearance of passengers on Ethiopian Airlines flight to Nairobi via Addis Ababa.
The popular preacher has his church headquartered in Isuaniocha, Mgbakwu road, Awka, Awka North LGA, Anambra State, and two other branches in Lagos and Abuja.
The NDLEA spokesman had in a statement titled, ‘Church General Overseer arrested with drugs at Lagos airport’, on Sunday, said when the drugs were tested, the 54 sticks proved positive to cannabis.
According to the statement, the clergyman confessed during a preliminary interview that he packed that quantity of illicit substance on his body to use during his three weeks crusade in Kenya.
But speaking with our correspondent on Wednesday, Babafemi explained that the agency was not leaving any chances in its investigation, adding that no efforts would be spared in investigating the matter to a logical conclusion.
“Investigation is ongoing,” he simply said when our correspondent probed him on Ekwem’s matter.
When asked if the NDLEA Act on drugs transportation or trafficking will also be applied to the ‘General Overseer’ if found guilty, Babafemi said, “The law is the law.”
He added, “There is no difference or preferential treatment in the application of the law. Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law.”
With the NDLEA’s position, Pastor Ekwem may be sentenced to life imprisonment if found guilty and convicted, according to the agency’s ACT
Read the NDLEA ACT on offences below
Importation, etc., of cocaine, heroine, or similar drugs etc.
Any person who, without lawful authority:-
a. Imports, manufactures, produces, processes, plants or grows the drugs popularly known as cocaine. LSD, heroine or any other similar drugs shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for life: or
b. Export, transports or otherwise traffics in the drugs popularly known as cocaine, LSD heroine or any other similar drugs shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for life.
c. Sells, buys, exposes or offers for sale or otherwise deals in or with the drugs popularly known as cocaine. LSD heroine or any other similar drugs shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for life: or
d. Knowingly possesses or uses the drugs popularly known as cocaine. LSD heroine or any other similar drugs by smoking inhaling or injecting the said drugs shall be guilty of an offence on conviction to imprisonment for a term not less than fifteen years but not exceeding 25 years.