The Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday, sentenced a 36 year-old, Efobi Onyeka Innocent, to a total of 37 years imprisonment, for unlawful importation of 1.515 kilograms of Cocaine into Nigeria, from Brazil.
The convict was arraigned before the court by the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), on three counts charge which bordered on unlawful possession of the said drug and conspiracy to unlawfully import the said drug into the country.
The offences which are contrary to and punishable under sections 11(d) 11(b) and 14(b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act. Cap N30 laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
He had earlier pleaded not guilty to when he was first arraigned before the court, which made the court presided over by Justice Ayotunde Faji, to order the prosecution to open its case against the convict.
During the trial of the convict, Mrs. Juliana Imaobong Iroabuchi, lawyer to the NDLEA had called six witnesses, who testified how the convict was arrested at the arrival hall of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, on September 27, 2017, when it was discovered that he ingested the said drug from Brazil enroute Morocco. And how he excreted same during six times during interrogation.
While the trial was on, the convict changed his plea and pleaded guilty to all the three counts charge preferred against him by the prosecution.
Upon his change of plea, his lawyer pleaded with the court to be lenient in sentencing his client, on the ground that he is a first time offender who has no previous criminal record and he has became remorseful of his act while in detention.
The lawyer also told the court that the convict engaged in the act to raise money for his collapsed business. Following the plea made by the counsel, his sentence was reserved till today.
Sentencing the convict, Justice Faji however said: “I do not agreed that the convict is remorseful, he only changed his plea after the prosecution had gone far with his trial.
“One must not lose sight on the rampant of the crime. Consequently, I shall sentence you, Efobi Onyeka Innocent, to 15 years imprisonment on count one, seven years on count two and fifteen years on count three. The terms shall run concurrently”.
In a related development, a Congo national, Mampouya Zitou Felix, was on Friday, sentenced to four years imprisonment for attempt to export 26.900 kilograms of Tramadol, a banned drug to his country by the same court.
The convict was arrested on March 23, 2018, during outward clearance of goods at the NAHCO export shield, at Murtala Muhammed International Airpirt, Ikeja, Lagos,
He was arraigned before Justice Ayotunde Faji’s court, on a two count-charge of conspiracy and unlawful exportation of the said banned drug.
The offences according to the prosecutor, Mr. Jonathan Igwuebor, are contrary to sections 11(b) and 14(b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act. Cap N30 laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
The offences which he pleaded guilty to. However, the second count was withdrew against the convict, living him to face the consequence of the unlawful importation of the banned substance.
Upon his guilty plea, his lawyer, Chief Lilian Omotunde, in her allocutor, pleaded with the court to tamper justice with mercy in sentencing her client, whim she claimed was a foreign with all his family in Congo.
However, delivering judgement on the charge against the Congolese, Justice Faji said: “the offence which the convict is charge with is rampant and it has damaged the nation’s image.
“I din not believed that he did not know the package, haven confessed that that was the fourth time he wanted to export it before he was apprehended.
“Consequently, I shall sentence the convict to four year imprisonment, starting from April, 2018. I also ordered that the convict shall be deported back to Congo at the completion of his jail term”.