A Lagos Division of the Federal High Court on Monday sentenced a 35-year-old Nigerian to 10 years in prison for unlawfully dealing in 1.205 kilogrammes of substances which tested positive for methamphetamine.
Lotachukwu Umeme, who is based in Cote d’Ivoire, had pleaded guilty to a one-count charge of trafficking a prohibited drug after he was arrested by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, last March at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, during the clearance of passengers on Qatar Airways flight to Doha.
The convict, who was travelling with an Ivorian passport bearing the name Grou Bi Clauvis, also got an option of a N10 million fine.
According to the NDLEA, the convict’s offences are contrary to and punishable under section 11(b) of the NDLEA Act. Cap. N30, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004.
At the resumed trial on Monday, the convict maintained his guilty plea.
Consequently, the judge, Mojisola Olatoregun, ordered the prosecutor to review the facts of the matter.
Abu Ibrahim, the NDLEA prosecutor, then proceeded to tell the court how the convict was arrested with an Ivory Coast international passport with the said substance and $400.
The prosecutor also tendered before the court the results of test analysis on the drugs, his confessional statements, and a sample of the drug, all which were admitted as exhibits. After reviewing the facts of the case and admitting the exhibits, the prosecutor urged the court to convict and sentence him accordingly.
But the convict’s lawyer, Prosper Ojakovo, pleaded with the court to be lenient in sentencing his client as he is a first time offender, who had promised not to engage in such act if granted a second chance.
In sentencing the convict, the judge said: “I have taken into consideration that the convict is a first time offender, and also a young man.
“I’m mindful of Section 11 of the NDLEA Act which is mandatory, but I’m going to vary it. It is of public knowledge that the prison is full, and he is a young man.
“The convict is hereby sentenced to 10 years jail term or option of N10 million.”
The judge also ordered the NDLEA to forfeit the convict’s Ivory Coast international passport to the government of Ivory Coast as well as the sum of $400 found in his possession to the Nigerian government.