Pastor arrested with $126 million cocaine at Victoria Falls Airport

The Chronicle

Fairness Moyana in Hwange

A NIGERIAN pastor has been arrested at Victoria Falls Airport after being found in possession of more than two kilograms of cocaine stuffed in hats and jackets with a street value of $126,752,000.

Desmond Onyii Onuoha (46) of Ruwa Paschoal 484 590 Paulo-Brazil or number 22 Samuel Eknola Street Lagos in Nigeria was arrested for drug trafficking on 23 October.

He appeared before Regional magistrate, Mr Collet Ncube facing drug trafficking and possession charges.

The court heard that on 22 October 2022, detectives from the Drugs and Narcotics Victoria Falls received information to the effect that Onuoha was traveling from Brazil via Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia using a Nigerian passport number B50060514 on-board an Ethiopian Airways ET0829 and was suspected to be carrying drugs with him to Victoria Falls.

The following day at around 11:30 am a team of detectives proceeded to Victoria Falls International Airport where they acquired a passenger manifest for the incoming airplanes and established that Onuoha was on the list. Around 12:30 pm, the detectives identified Onuoha and observed him as he went through the check in process. He checked in using a Ghanaian passport number G0559957. Detectives intercepted him and took him to the Victoria Falls Police Post.

A thorough search was conducted resulting in the recovery of white gel substance e wrapped in cello tapes which was stashed in the linings of hats and jackets. A preliminary drug test conducted in Onuoha’s presence tested positive for cocaine leading to his arrest. The recovered drugs were taken to Victoria Falls Post Office where they were weighed in the presence of accused. The total weight was 2 330 grams with a street value of ZWL126 752 000.

Onuoha who is being represented by a Mrs Khumalo of Ncube and Partners denied the charge arguing that he did not know the contents of the bag found with the cocaine but had been asked to drop it in Victoria Falls by one of his congregants. Taking the witness stand during the opening of the defense case, Onuoha claimed he was married to a Zimbabwean woman and had come into the country to pay lobola for her.

“I’m a pastor in Nigeria and so I announced in church that I was traveling to Zimbabwe to see my mother-in-law for paying lobola in Bulawayo. I have been legally married to her since February of this year. One of my congregants then approached me and asked me to drop a bag for someone at Victoria Falls Airport since I had indicated that I would pass through there to see a friend. I don’t know anything about the bag especially its contents let alone the drugs mentioned. I was surprised when the police searched the bags and found drugs,” said Onuoha.

A copy of a marriage certificate produced by the defense was opposed from being tendered in as evidence to the said marriage with the prosecution arguing that there were not furnished with it. In addition, the State led by Mr Vusumizi Mangena argued that they could not accept its admission on the basis that it was not certified as presented by the defence. Judgment is set to be passed tomorrow.

A number of tourists have been arrested at the resort city while trying to smuggle dangerous drugs at the airport this year.

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