Nigerian d**g lord to spend life in jail

Thursday, October 21st, 2021 00:00 | By
Austin Obinwanne Igwillo has been jailed for life and fined Sh180 million by JKIA anti-narcotics court for trafficking 22kg of heroin. Photo/ourtesy

A Nigerian drug kingpin who recruited Kenya Airways employees into the illicit trade has been jailed for life and fined Sh180 million.

Austine Obinwanne Igwillo, a Nigerian, was slapped with the sentence by the anti-narcotics court after being found guilty of trafficking 22kg of heroin valued at Sh66 million.

Principal Magistrate Lucas Onyina, who made the ruling on October 6, 2021 at the court based at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), imposed the maximum sentence under the narcotics law to, among other things, reflect the seriousness of the offence and deter trafficking.

Section 4 of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Control Act provides for a fine of Sh1 million, or three times the market value of the drugs, whichever is greater, and in addition, imprisonment for life.

Igwillo was arrested in November 2017 with four other former Kenya Airways crew members who he had been recruited into drug trafficking business with the help of Chadwick Okoth Dondi.

Dondi, a Kenyan, is serving a 15 years jail term at the Manyani Maximum Prison.

He was arrested when Anti-Narcotics Unit (ANU) officers raided his residence in Savana Estate Phase IV, where 22kg of heroin were found in the bedroom and kitchen.

Igwillo, according to the detectives, came to Kenya in November 2016.

After his arrest, he implicated Dondi, a former Kenya Airways worker who was suspended March 2017 after he was found in possession of USD17,000 (Sh 1.9 million) while returning to Kenya from official duty.

Flight attendants

However, despite his suspension, Dondi maintained contact with former colleagues at the airport and managed to recruit in-flight attendants to act as drug mules.

Before Igwillo was arrested, detectives arrested three Kenya Airways employees at the JKIA following a sting operation where 40kg of heroin was recovered.

Alfric Odhiambo Otieno and Lennox Chestit, both KQ cabin attendants, and Kenneth Sinzore, a KQ luggage handler, were arrested just 15 minutes before the flight left for Lagos, Nigeria.

According to the detectives, the drugs were wrapped in a similar manner as those which were recovered at Igwillo’s residence.

Otieno was in 2019 charged with trafficking 25kg of heroin valued at Sh75 million together with Constable Urbanus Mutunga Kioko, Corporal Alloyse Onyango, Peter Okoth Odongo and Festus Chibueze Elemu.

The charges read that the offence was committed on March 9, 2019 at Donholm Nairobi.

Detectives later established that the crew on several occasions successfully transported drugs to various destinations.

During a raid at Dondi’s residence in Fedha estate, detectives recovered more narcotics packed and ready for shipment.

When he first appeared in court, Igwillo requested to be released on cash bail but the prosecution objected, saying the rental house was just a storage house and could not be in any way termed as “place of fixed abode” adding that he had no residence visa and had been using a tourist visa.

“Court should bear in mind the seriousness of the offence and severity of the sentences to be imposed if convicted,” the prosecution argued.

Officials have commended the ruling saying it would go a long way in dealing with the drug menace in the country.

“Jailing leads to incapacitation that prevents future crime by removing the suspects from the society through incarceration, and in other jurisdictions, execution,” a senior government official told People Daily.

He added that punishment has at least five recognised purposes including deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, retribution and restitution.

General deterrence

“It can be specific deterrence targeting an individual suspect or general deterrence applying to the public at large.

When the public learns, for example, a drug trafficker has been severely punished by a sentence of life in prison, like in this case, this knowledge can inspire a deep fear of criminal prosecution,” he said.

Detectives from the ANU have intensified operations with several suspects arrested in the last few days. 

Last week, officers raided drug dens in Kahawa Wendani, Kasarani and Langata where three Kenyans and two Nigerians were arrested in possession of 2.6kg of heroin worth approximately Sh8 million.

The Nigerians were identified as Haruna Ajayi Mutairu and Raheem Yusuf Owolabi and were arraigned at the JKIA on Monday.

The suspects have been detained. They were arrested on October 11 in a drug den in Kahawa Sukari while blending and re-packaging narcotics for distribution.

During the search, several packages of heroin weighing approximately 3kg, cutting agents, packaging materials, square ruled books, a broken glass used for dividing narcotics, blenders, weighing scales and packaged drugs in bundles of 10 were recovered.

The traffickers receive their narcotics from Kampala Uganda and Dar-es-Salaam Tanzania through courier services, according to detectives.

The other suspect, Stephen Chege Wachege, aka Hamid, was arrested the following day in Sunton Estate in Kasarani in possession of 400g of heroin.

In Langata, Ajayi, and Owolabi, were arrested in a rented house where about one kilogram of heroin and assorted blending and packaging materials were recovered.

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