By Edwin G. Wandah
Criminal Court “C”, at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, yesterday handed down a four-year sentence of Shirat Nalwadda, a Ugandan National who was arrested with 1.2 kilograms of substance believed to be drugs on Saturday, April 30, 2013 at the Roberts International Airport in Liberia shortly upon her arrival in the country.
According to court record, Shirat Nalwdda, from Kampala, Uganda, was arrested and investigated at the Roberts International Airport by Liberian State Securities assigned at the Airport.
After the investigation by the state securities, (National Security Agency-NSA, including other security authorities), she was subsequently charged with alleged commission of crime of unlawful possession, trafficking and distribution of Narcotic drugs.
Hence, the defendant was taken to the Monrovia City Court at the Temple of Justice, where a writ of arrest was issued against her for the said alleged charges,but subsequently, she was granted bail.
Meanwhile, the defendant was re-arrested by state securities assigned at the Roberts International Airport after attempting to flee the country to Kampala, Uganda.
However, documents presented by the court show that the defendant was re-taken to court and further detained at the Monrovia Central Prison Compound and subsequently indicted by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County on December 11, 2013.
In the indictment issued to the defendant, security officers assigned at the Robert International Airport apprehended the defendant with 1.2 kilograms of substances now believed to be Heroin, valued at USD30, 000, 00 or its equivalent in Liberian dollars to LD2, 400, 000, 00, thus arraigning the defendant before the First Judicial Circuit, Criminal Court “C” in Montserrado County.
Accordingly, the defendant pleaded not guilty to the charges levied against her. Meanwhile, State Prosecutors produced and qualified three regular witnesses that admitted in court that the defendant, Shirat Nalwadda is been held liable to the crime of unlawful possession, trafficking and distribution of Narcotic drugs.
Those witnesses produced in court were Albert Hare, Morris Y. Wilson and Philip Jagba, and taking the witness stand, told the court and jury that Shirat Nalwadda committed the crime which she is culpable of.
However, defense counsel on the other hand,also produced two witnesses in persons of Samuel Johnson and Emmanuel Willie who said that Shirat was not guilty of the crime.
According to witness Samuel Johnson’s testimony before the court and jury, he was an employee of Sabena Airlines and S.N Brussels; and according to him, he has knowledge in the screening of passengers entering the Republic of Liberia and how they leave the country.
For his part, Emmanuel Willie who said he is a lab demonstrator of the Science College of the University of Liberia told the court and Jury that the test that was conducted on the substance that was believed to be Heroin was Presumptive Test and not the Confirmatory Test as stated by the Prosecution.
Meanwhile during the investigation of the defendant at the Robert International Airport, it was revealed that the defendant came to Liberia to locate her boyfriend and after her arrest she could not give the telephone number or address of the said boyfriend who she said was only referred to as one Ekina.
But on November 30, 2013, when the said Kenyan Airways flight number 508 arrived at the Roberts International Airport, the defendant was the only passenger who was caught with substances believed to be drugs in her travelling bag, and it was later established to be Heroin.
Meanwhile, Criminal Court C has finally given its ruling on the alleged drug trafficking scandal. According to the verdict, the court unanimously brought down a four-year guilty verdict against Shirat Nalwadda.
According to the verdict which was read by Criminal Court C Judge Dixon, the defendant was then adjudged guilty of the said crime and was sentenced to imprisonment for a period of four consecutive years with immediate effect.
The verdict further said that the defendant will be ordered deportation from the Republic of Liberia through diplomatic channels for her to serve her sentence in the Republic of Uganda.