A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos presided over by Justice Hadiza Rabiu-Shagari, Friday, sentenced a Lagos based businessman, Ezeanwu Ifeanyi to five years imprisonment for importing a container load of Tramadol as well as other sex enhancing drugs into the country.
The convict was handed over the sentence after lawyer to the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration Control (NAFDAC),Mr. Umaru Shamaki has reviewed the facts of the charge, following the change of not guilty plea by the convict.
Ifeanyi was first arraigned before the court sometimes in February, 2015, on a one count charge of unlawful importation of the said drugs.
Apart from series of Tramadol tablets, other banned drugs said to have been imported by the convict include, Ibamol tablet of 50 mg, Heogra tablet of 150 mg and Diarrhea capsule, which are sexual enhance drugs for men.
The offence, according to NAFDAC is contrary to section 1(a) of the Counterfeit and Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Foods (miscellaneous provision) Act Cap. C34 Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and punishable under section 3(1) of the same Act.
The convict pleaded not guilty during his first arraignment, however, when the matter came up yesterday, Thursday, June 21, the convict changed his plea from not guilty to guilty and the matter was consequently adjourned till today for review of fact and sentence.
At the review of the fact of the charge today, the prosecutor, Shamaki, narrated to the court how the convict was arrested by NAFDAC operatives, as well as tendered several items which includes the convict’s confessional statements, samples of banned drugs among others which were admitted as exhibits.
After the review, the prosecutor urged the court to sentence the convict according to Section 3(1) of NAFDAC Act.
The NAFDAC lawyer told the court that NAFDAC Act prescribed payment of N500, 000, 00 fine or a prison term not less than five years and not more than 15 years.
But counsel to the convict, Mrs. Vivian Ekwegh pleaded with the court, to be lenient in sentencing her client.
In her allocution, Ekwegh said that her client is a first time offender and that he was not the importer of the banned drugs, but a clearing agent, who did not have knowledge of what he was given to clear.
The convict’s lawyer added that upon the arrest of her client, he made several attempt to get the importer of the drugs arrested by giving the phone number of the owner of the container to the Investigating Police Officer, but the man was elusive, as all his phone lines could not go through.
She therefore urged the court to tamper justice with mercy.
In sentencing the convict, Justice Rabiu-Shagari, after listening to the submissions of both parties said that though she has listened to the plea of mercy and observed the demeanor of the convict which shows that he is remorseful, but the convict will not go unpunished to serve as a deterrent to others who are outside there having the aim of doing same thing.
Rabiu-Shagari consequently sentenced the importer to a five year-jail term.
She however, gave the convict an option of fine of N300, 000, 00.