Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday convicted and sentenced a 44 year-old man, Slyvanus Onyeuka to a total of 19 years imprisonment for unlawful importation of hard drugs into Nigeria. Justice Oguntoyinbo jailed Onyeuka after he pleaded guilty to a three-count charge of conspiracy and unlawful importation of heroine and cocaine, weighing 6.626 kilograms into the country from Kenya.
The convict, according to the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), was arrested on May 18, 2018, at the Murtala International Airport, Ikeja-Lagos, during an inward clearance of passengers onboard Ethiopian Airline from Kenya, through Addis-Ababa to Lagos. The anti-drugs agency in a charge marked FHC/L/242c/18, claimed that the drugs were found in possession of convict, which he hid in five lady’s hand bags. The convict was said to have conspired with one Chidi, who resides in Tanzania and one Emma in Nigeria both of whom are now at large, to commit the crime.
offences according to the prosecutor, Juliana Iroabuchi, are contrary to sections 11(d), 11(a) and 14(b) of the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N 30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. The convict had pleaded guilty to the charges when he was first arraigned before the court sometimes in July, 2018, and he was admitted to bail on various terms but he was unable to meet the bail conditions. However, at the resumption of trial on Wednesday, the convict changed his plea. Following the development, Justice Oguntoyinbo ordered the prosecutor to review the fact of the crime.
While reviewing the facts of the crime, the prosecutor tendered some exhibits which includes; convict’s three confessional statements, package of substance bag, duplicate of test analysis, drug analysis report, the seized drugs containing heroine and cocaine, weighing 6.626 kilograms, ECOWAS international passport, Ethiopian E-ticket and boarding pass. The prosecutor, Mrs. Iroabuchi, then urged the court to convict and sentence the defendant as charged. Justice Oguntoyinbo then admitted all the exhibits tendered by the prosecution and also pronounced the defendant guilty as charged. Lawyer to the convict, Mrs. U. A. Ekwegh, pleaded with the court to tamper mercy with justice stating that her client is a first time offender and that he is remorseful of his act and promised not to engage in crime again.
Ekwegh also told the court that she had counseled the convict that crimes do not pay. She also urged the court to grant her client reformatory punishment instead of punitive sentencing. Justice Oguntoyinbo held that “I have heard the convict’s counsel plea for leniency. I have heard the counsel saying the convict is a first time offender.” The judge also held that the law must take its course, she therefore sentenced the convict to seven years on count one and six years in both counts two and three. The judge, however, held that the jail terms shall run concurrently from the date he was arrested. The judge also ordered that the convict’s ECOWAS international passport be forfeited to the federal government of Nigeria and that the seized drugs be destroyed if there is no appeal against the conviction after 90 days.
Source (Leadership, Thursday, May 23rd, 2019.)
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