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A drug convict, Aluagwu Lawrence, 32, of Iju Ishaga Lagos who was sentenced to life imprisonment for possessing 220 grammes of cannabis has taken the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to the Court of Appeal in contention of the sentence awarded him at the Federal High Court. In response to the motion of appeal, the NDLEA at the weekend filed its brief of argument and March 27, 2017 was fixed for the commencement of the argument of the motion of appeal.
The appellant counsel, Barrister Vincent Nwanna in his submission stated that the 25 years sentence by the Federal High Court on his client for possessing 200 grammes of cannabis is excessive and should be reviewed by the Appeal court. However, the NDLEA counsel, Barrister Jeremiah Aernan said that the Agency has a superior argument because the convict pleaded guilty before the Federal High Court and that the NDLEA Act does not differentiate between quantities of drugs found on dealers.
Meanwhile the Lagos command of the NDLEA arrested 274 suspected drug dealers in 2016 and successfully won the conviction of two hundred and twelve (212) drug dealers comprising 205 males and seven females. This is the highest conviction recorded by the Lagos command. The convicts got various jail term including life imprisonment with hard labour. However, one Joy Amah 34 year old caught with 45.2kg of cannabis was convicted and pardoned by Justice Shagari on the ground that she was five months pregnant and had spent three months in custody.
Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah (retd) who commended the Lagos command lawyer, barrister Jeremiah Aernan for securing 212 convictions in a year said that the Agency is strategising to tackle the drug problem in the State. "The Agency seized more drugs and won more convictions in 2016 in Lagos. I commend the prosecuting counsel for winning 212 convictions last year. A total of sixteen thousand, five hundred and seventy-one (16,571.289kgs) of narcotic drugs were seized by the Lagos command. While two hundred and twelve (212) drug dealers were convicted last year, one hundred and forty (140) cases were pending at the Federal High Court as at December 31, 2016. This is a clear indication that the drug problem is huge" Abdallah stated.
NDLEA Lagos State commander, Sule Aliyu said that cannabis had the largest quantity of the drugs with 16,327.398kg. This was followed by tramadol with 192.918kg, diazepan 46.7kg, exol 3.2kg, rophenol 582 grammes, cocaine 121 grammes and heroin 37 grammes. The above figures are far higher than the 4, 443.5597kg of drugs seized in Lagos in 2015.
According to the NDLEA statistics, there was an increase of 12,127.73kg of drugs seized and an increase of 63 persons convicted for drug related offences in the State over the arrests and convictions in 2015. However, there was a drastic reduction in the number of persons counselled in connection with substance use and abuse from 362 in 2015 to 267 in 2016. This represents a decrease of 95 persons.
Okunola Taiwo who was caught with 2kg of cannabis will have to spend the next twenty-five (25) years in prison custody. Saheed Bello got twelve (12) years for dealing in cannabis; Mohammed Babangida and Abdullahi Ibrahim caught with 200 grammes of cannabis got ten (10) years each while Samuel Ukpe got eight (8) years each on a three count charge of dealing in cocaine, heroin and cannabis to run concurrently.
The Chairman assured that the Agency will continue to intensify drug control efforts in the State.