Businessman gets 15-year jail term for dealing in hard drug

GavelA BUSINESSMAN and father of five children, Mr. Egbutiegbo Aloysius, was Wednesday sentenced to 15 years imprisonment by Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos, for trading in hard drug.

The convict was arrested by men of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) at the departure hall of Murtala Muhammad International Airport, on June 12, 2014, with 19.80 kilograms of Cannabis Sativa, popularly called marijuana, which he allegedly intended to export to China.

He was charged and arraigned before the Justice Idris led-court on one count charge of unauthorized and unlawful dealing in hard drug. The offence is contrary to section 11(a) of the NDLEA Act, Cap N30 laws of the Federation, 2004. The convict had earlier pleaded not guilty to the charge, and admitted to bail, but unable to meet the bail conditions.

On resumption of hearing on the matter on Monday, the convict changed his plea and pleaded guilty to the one-count charge. As a result of his change of plea, the prosecutor, Mary Eke, applied to the court for review of the fact of the matter, urging the court to convict the accused as charged.

The prosecution, after reviewing the facts of the matter, also tendered before the court some exhibits recovered from the convict, which include two ECOWAS international passports, foreign currencies and a big travelling bag where the hard drugs, specifically cannabis, was packed. Thereafter, Justice Idris, pronounced him guilty as charged.

But before sentencing the convict, his lawyer, Sunday Obunor, urged the court to temper justice with mercy in sentencing the convict. He said his client was a first-time offender with five children to cater for, adding that he had been abandoned by relations and friends since he was arrested and that was why he could not perfect the bail granted him earlier.

However, Justice Idris while sentencing the convict said; “Aloysius, I am a merciful person, generally. Meaning that there is a situation that I show no mercy for the people who deliberately join in tarnishing the image of the country.” “I have no mercy for people that import and export hard drugs in and outside the country, it is unfortunate you fall into this category of the people that I show no mercy on.” “You initially pleaded not guilty and now you changed your plea, this matter has been adjourned for trial several times.

I only show mercy for those that take hard drug either on health grounds or otherwise, but not for those that deal in it. “You and others like you have destroyed the society you live. You have committed a crime against the state; you deserve no pity despite your plea.” “I will not keep you in prison permanently but I will give you a long sentence The law prescribed life imprisonment, but I will not keep you there permanently. I give you 15 years effective from the first day of your arrest,” he said.

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