75 Years in Jail for Drug Dealer, Manager, 3 Workers

*As NDLEA Appeals Against N700,000 Option of Fine for Convicts, Others

IT was another huge victory for the NDLEA as a major drug dealer, Mike Omoarukhe, his manager and three other workers in his cannabis farms, were on Thursday, sentenced to 75 years of prison sentence by a Federal High Court in Benin, the Edo state capital.

The agency took the convicts to court in July on a five count charge, including possession of 183.5kg of cannabis sativa, conspiracy to possess, cultivate and cultivation of 22 hectares of cannabis farms.

Justice A.C. Obiozor, who presided over the hearing at the federal high Court 2, Benin judicial division, sentenced the defendants to a cumulative 75 years jail term with each count earning 15 years each. However, he gave them an option of N700, 000 fine on all the counts.

Consequent upon the judgement, Chairman/Chief Executive of the Agency, Brig. Gen. Mohamed Buba Marwa, Retd, has directed that immediate appeal be filed at the appellate court against the option of N700, 000 fine granted the convicts by the trial judge.

Meanwhile, NDLEA operatives were, once more, on duty on July 1, 2021 as they stormed the Ughieudu forest, Uhunwonde LGA of Edo State, where they arrested several persons including Elijah John, Friday Emma, Itoro Emmanuel Daniel Emmanuel, Udom Etok and Abraham Monday Thompson, with 50kg of cannabis sativa.

A follow up operation in the Ughieudu forest on 3rd July 2021, led to the arrest of Emmanuel Ekpeyoung and the total destruction of three cannabis farms with a combined size of 22 hectares and seizure of 133. 5kg cannabis.

The owner of the farm, Omoarukhe, 36, was later arrested at a drinking joint in Irrua, Esan central LGA after weeks of manhunt. Except for Udom Etok and Abraham Monday Thompson who are considered minors, the rest have been charged to court.

NDLEA has also filed a notice of appeal against the judgement of a Federal High Court in Lagos presided over by Justice D.E. Osiagor. In the judgement, Clement Ajayi was sentenced to three years imprisonment with an option of a fine of N3,000 while Bolaji Fajebe got a two year jail sentence or a N2,000 fine option on a two count charge of conspiracy and dealing in illicit drugs.

In the three-ground notice of appeal filed at the Lagos Division of the court, dated 15th October and signed by the NDLEAs Director of Prosecution and Legal Services, Mr. Joseph Sunday, the agency contended that the October 8th judgement by Justice Osiagor, which gave the two convicts options of N3,000 and N2,000 respectively, is ridiculous, unwarrantable, unjustifiable and contrary to public interest.

The agency averred further that the trial judge did not provide any reason for awarding the ridiculous penalty, which is contrary to Section 14 of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N30 LFN 2004 which prescribes a penalty of not less than 15 years and not exceeding 25 years of imprisonment for the offence.

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