A Nigerian pastor has been arrested and jailed after being caught smuggling cocaine worth Sh3.1 billion.
According to reports, the pastor, Mr Chukwudi Okechukwu, who preaches in Tanzania under the Lord’s Chosen Church of Nigeria was jailed for 30 years. Police believe he is one of the top members of a drug syndicate operating in Tanzania, Nigeria and South Africa. Okechukwu was jailed alongside a South African, one Stan Hycent and Pakistani Shoaib Mohammad Ayazi over the same offence.
|Pastor with other smugglers
According to police reports, on the day of the arrest, Okechukwu and his accomplices were hiding in the Dar es Salaam’s Kuduchi Mtongani suburbs. Police received intelligence that there was a plan by a group to smuggle huge quantity of cocaine into the country. A surveillance team led by head of Anti-Drugs Unit, ADU, Godfrey Nzowa, was deployed to keep an eye on the mansion that the preacher and his accomplices had rented.
Police report further revealed that when they knocked on the door and made themselves known, the alleged culprits began running around the house in panic. The smugglers were eventually arrested. The Nigerian pastor managed to escape the mansion, but was eventually caught after a chase.
Upon searching the house, anti-drugs police allegedly seized 81 packets of drugs which were later confirmed by a Chief Government chemist to be cocaine hydrochloride.
Nzowa had this to say regarding the arrests;
“The jailing of the Nigerian pastor and his co-conspirators brought to three, the number of high profile drug cases that have been heard and determined by the High Court in the space of three months.
“Early in September, the same court sentenced to 20 years a young Tanzanian, Fred William Chonde, to 20 years in jail after it found him guilty of possessing 180kg worth Sh 5.2 billion and ordered him to pay a Sh 15 billion fine,” Nzowa noted.
“Again last month, the court sentenced a businessman, Kadiria Saidi Kimaro, who attempted to smuggle 91 heroin capsules that he had swallowed, through Julius Nyerere International Airport, JNIA, to 20 years in jail. He was also ordered to pay Sh122 million in fine.”
Nzowa also added that drug business was a threat to national security especially when foreigners are left to operate in the country.