A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday sentenced a 29-year-old Ghanaian, Patrick Mensah, to 17 years imprisonment for dealing in marijuana.
Mensah’s imprisonment followed his conviction by Justice Okon Abang.
The judge, who pronounced the Ghanaian guilty on the strength of his confessional statement and the evidence tendered by the prosecution, said he was “convinced that the accused committed the offence and he is hereby convicted as charged.”
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency had on April 2, (NDLEA) arraigned Mensah on one count of dealing in 27.6 kg of “vegetable leaves” which tested to be Canabis Sativa.
The Prosecutor, Mr Orji Kalu, had told the court that the offence contravened Section 11(c) of the NDLEA Act, Cap No. 30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Mensah pleaded guilty.
While reviewing the facts of the case on Monday, Kalu told the court that the convict was caught by NDLEA operatives sometime in 2014, at Ebule-Egba, Lagos, in possession of the outlawed substance.
The prosecution supported its case by tendering various exhibits before the court including the bulk of the marijuana seized from Mensah and the confessional statement that the convict was said to have freely made to the anti-narcotic agency.
Following the admission of the exhibits in evidence against the convict, Kalu urged the court to convict Mensah as charged.
“My Lord, in view of the guilty plea of the accused and all the evidence tendered by the prosecution in this matter, we pray Your Lordship to convict the accused person as charged, in line with Sections 218 and 285(2) of the Criminal Procedure Act,” Kalu said.
Abang, accordingly, convicted Mensah and subsequently entertained plea of leniency from the convict’s counsel, Mr G.U. Okaka.
Okaka asked the court to show leniency in sentencing Mensah as he was a first time offender with no previous record of conviction and for having pleaded guilty to the offence at the first instance.
The defence counsel also urged the court to consider the fact that his client had been in the prison custody for almost a year and had lost touch with his family in Ghana.
“My Lord, he is deeply remorseful for the offence he committed and has promised to go back to Ghana at the end of his punishment.
“I most passionately urge the court to temper justice with mercy and give him a second chance as he is still a young man,” Okaka pleaded.
But Abang, who said that he had listened dispassionately to Okaka’s plea of leniency, described Mensah as an ungrateful foreigner who entered and was accommodated in Nigeria since 2010 “eating and drinking” only to pay the country back with evil.
The judge, in pronouncing the sentence, said that the decision of the court in criminal matters should be such that it would discourage crime in the society.
Abang held that “a decision of the court of law in a criminal matter like this should serve as deterrence to other Nigerian youths.’’
“The convict unlawfully dealt in 27.6kg of canabis sativa. The seed of wrong doing is to face the wrath of the law.
“I hereby sentence the convict to 17 years of imprisonment with effect from today.
“The exhibit shall be destroyed by the NDLEA.” (NAN)