The trial of eight Nigerian men and a Cambodian woman accused of dealing crystal methamphetamine from a Phnom Penh church ended on Tuesday, CAMBODIA DAILY reports.
Nnamezie Victor, 30; Francis Nnamdi, 30; Sunday Nwabuisi, 31; Tony Mmaduka Chukwuonye, 34; Okorom Kizito, 35; Favour Nnabuife Okorom, 36; Maduka Simon Ukandu, 37; and Izuchukwu Chukwuma, 40, were allegedly dealing drugs from the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries church in Cambodia.
During the third and final day of questioning at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Nigerian national Favour Nnabuife Okorom, 36, and the Cambodian defendant, Mam Vinyong, 25, were questioned over their involvement in a drug ring that police say operated out of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries Church in Meanchey district in 2014 and early 2015.
Ms. Vinyong admitted to delivering smartphone boxes for defendant Tony Mmaduka Chukwuonye, but claimed that she had no idea that the smartphone boxes she delivered in 2014 were filled with drugs.
The pair became close after meeting at the church following the end of her previous relationship, she said, adding that he had paid for powdered milk for her baby, adding that she was paid $100 per day for acting as a courier.
Ms. Vinyong said,
“At the end of October and early November, I delivered the goods two or three times, and in December I delivered them one more time.”
“Mr. Tony just told me they contained valuable objects and I thought they might be brand-new smartphones.”
Despite an admission of guilt from Ms. Vinyung, Chuwuonye’s girlfriend, all 8 men denied the charges against them, saying they were Christian missionaries who came to Phnom Penh to open a church. .
Captain Proeung Pheap, deputy chief of the Anti-Drug Unit, said the group was using their Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries church as a front for a drug ring, hiding their identities and trafficking under the guise of missionary work.
He claimed police discovered the illegal operation after Vinyung delivered drugs to undercover officers 3 separate times in January 2015. During the trial, Vinyung said she had been dating Chuwuonye for 3 months before their arrest and he paid her $100 to take a package to an unidentified man 3 separate times. .
Victor, the leader of the MFM church, said he volunteered to come to Cambodia from Nigeria as a Christian missionary in 2014 and doesn’t know anything about the case or about any drugs. He claimed police forced him to confess.
Chimedu, Victor’s brother, also said he had nothing to do with drug dealing. He said:
“I have never smoked or used drugs in my life. I’ve never even seen drugs.”…. this people will fall down and die if they don’t release me and my brother….”
However, Captain Pheap at the Interior Ministry’s anti-drug department, refuted Ms. Vinyong’s claim of innocence. He said,
“Before we went to arrest her, our undercover officers reported that she was delivering the drugs to other dealers, and we know Mr. Tony was the one who often ordered her to do it.”
Like the seven other Nigerian defendants who testified during two previous days of hearings, Mr. Okorom denied everything.
Asked about receiving drugs from Ms. Vinyong at a KFC restaurant at Phnom Penh’s Sovanna Shopping Center, he said, “I had only lived in Cambodia for two months and had never been to KFC.”
A verdict is due on September 12.