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Court jails driver 10 years over illicit drug importation

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Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court, Lagos State, yesterday sentenced a driver, Akinola Suleiman, to 10 years imprisonment for importing 11 kilogrammes of hard drugs. The judge convicted Suleiman following a nearly seven-year trial before two judges.

He said the convict’s jail term would run from August 30, 2013, when the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) arrested him. The judge also ordered that the drugs seized from the convict be destroyed if there was no appeal against the judgment within the period stipulated by the law.

Suleiman, who plies the Ghana-Nigeria route, was found at the NDLEA checkpoint, Seme Border area, with 1.3kg of heroin neatly concealed in a big brown travel bag with false bottoms, hidden in a Toyota Camry car with registration number JJJ 584 AE Lagos. He was charged before Justice Okon Abang on November 6, 2013 on two counts of importation of 1.3 kilograms of heroin and 9.75 kilogrammes of Ephedrine, a substance similar to cocaine, heroine and LSD.

The NDLEA said he violated Section 11(b) of the NDLEA Act, 2004. Suleiman pleaded not guilty, but Abang declined to grant him bail on the ground that he was a flight risk. When his trial commenced on February 20, 2014, prosecution counsel, Aliyu Abubakar called four witnesses.

Following Justice Abang’s transfer to another division of the court and the parties’ inability to obtain a ‘fiat’ for the judge to complete the case, the convict’s trial started ‘de novo’ before Justice Kuewumi.

During the new trial, the prosecutor called seven witnesses and tendered six exhibits. The defendant alone witnessed for himself. And yesterday, the count found him guilty and sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment. 

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