Accused is a repeat offender who once jumped bailed.
A mild drama ensued at the Federal High Court, Lagos, after a judge sentenced a businessman to 20 years imprisonment for drug trafficking.
The judge, Ibrahim Buba, sentenced Matthew Mgbeike, 40, after the accused pleaded guilty to a one-count charge of importing heroine.
“Following the plea of the accused, he is hereby found guilty and convicted as charged,” said the judge. “The accused is not a first time offender, as he had been previously convicted by a court of law. The convict is not remorseful, and deserves no mercy, and so, he is hereby sentenced to 20 years imprisonment without option of fine. His sentence shall start running from May 31, 2013.”
After the judge finished reading his judgment, the convict’s wife burst into tears inside the court room, rushed from her seat and knelt before the court pleading for leniency.
“Judge forgive my husband, forgive my husband,” the wife pleaded with the judge as tears streamed down her face.
Her two kids, the eldest not more than four years old, watched as their mother continued to weep before the judge and their father stood inside the dock.
The visibly unimpressed judge turned to the defence lawyer and warned him to restrain his client’s wife.
“Tell her not to come and dramatise before the court or else she will join her husband in prison,” Mr. Ibrahim said.
Mr. Mgbeike had pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned in December, 2010, after which the judge granted him bail in the sum of N1 million with one surety in like sum. Few months into his trial, Mr. Mgbeike jumped his bail and the judge issued a bench warrant for his arrest on April 10, 2013.
One month later, he was arrested, bearing a different name, Aliyu Aminu, by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, for a similar offence. He was arraigned before Justice Mohammed Idris on May 24, 2013, where he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years imprisonment.
On Thursday, Mr. Mgbeike appeared before Justice Buba to continue the trial for which he had jumped bail. He pleaded guilty to the one count of drug trafficking.
The prosecutor, Emmanuel Vembe, had told the court that the convict was arrested at the Murtala Mohammed Airport on October 17, 2010.
He said about 3.150 kilograms of heroin was recovered from the convict during the inward clearance of passengers on board a Qatar Airline flight from Dubai.
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