A Tanzanian high court on Friday, November 13, sentenced a Nigerian pastor, Chukwudi Okechukwu to 30 years in prison after being convicted of smuggling cocaine.
In his ruling, Judge Amir Mruma ordered that the accused be jailed along his compatriots, South African Stan Hycent and Pakistani Shoaib Mohammed Ayazi, adding that the accused pay SH9 Billion (over N800Million) in fines, TheCitizenng.com reports.
According to the Anti-Narcotics police, Okechukwu is one of the top members of a drug syndicate operating in Tanzania, Nigeria and South Africa.
He was captured along with compatriots after the Anti-narcotics police had received information about the trio planning to smuggle into the country (Tanzania) a huge quantity of cocaine and store it in a house in Kunduchi Mtongani.
The Nigerian pastor and his accomplices were believed to be hiding in a rented mansion in Dar es Salaam’s Kuduchi Mtongani suburbs when the police surrounded the house and arrested them.
After a surveillance team was deployed to keep an eye on the mansion that Okechukwu and his accomplices stayed, the police decided to give their suspects a chase.
Led by head of Anti-Drugs Unit (ADU) Godfrey Nzowa, the police knocked on the front gate in their bid to arrest the suspected drug dealers. Soon after the police had introduced themselves, the suspects who were reportedly four in number, attempted to scamper away in apparent fear and panic.
There was a chase inside the compound as the police could only get hold of three suspects who were arrested inside the house (Okechukwu inclusive).
The anti-drugs police also seized 81 packets of drugs which were later confirmed by the chief government chemist to be cocaine hydrochloride.
Addressing newsmen, Nzowa described their jailing of the three alleged drug dealers as “another great achievement in Tanzania’s efforts to fight drug trafficking.”
He added: “Unlike a gun or pistol which kills people instantly, drugs are killing the young generation slowly. If we are not aggressive in fighting the illicit trade we may find ourselves losing the young generation.
“The drug business was a threat to national security especially when foreigners are left to operate in the country.”
Pastor Okechukwu first came to Tanzania in January 2011, two months before his arrest, on an evangelical mission under the umbrella of his Lord Chosen Church of Nigeria.
However, intelligence report show he had being in Tanzania some years back and had made a name for himself as a pastor at his Kinondoni Biafra church and won many followers.