Sat. Dec 9th, 2023

A “photojournalist,” Okon  Sunday, has been convicted and sentenced to a one-year imprisonment without option of fine for possession of 1.2kg of cannabis sativa by a Federal High Court, Abuja.

Justice Inyang Ekwo held that he handed down the jail term after the plea for mercy by the convict and his lawyer, C.M. Wancha.

According.to reports, Sunday had pleaded guilty to a one-count charge preferred against him by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), through its counsel, Lauretta Idiakhoa.

In the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/369/2022, the 32-year-old convict was arrested on Aug.  5, 2022, at Sabon Lugbe, Abuja, wth 1.2 kilograms of cannabis sativa, a narcotic substance.

He was said to have committed the offence contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the NDLEA Act CAP N30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

After Sunday pleaded guilty to the charge, Wancha, in his allocutus, described the convict as “a first-time offender, a photojournalist by profession with aged parent depending on him.”

He said since the day of his arrest and the day he was admitted to bail, he had been of good conduct.

“We are praying this court to temper justice with mercy in sentencing,” he said.

The NDLEA lawyer read out Section 19 of the agency’s Act in the open court following Justice Ekwo’s directive.

The Act stipulates a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of 25 years imprisonment for an offender.

The judge, before sentencing Sunday, asked him some questions which go thus:

“You told NDLEA that you are 32 years and are you 32 years?” Justice Ekwo asked, and he responded in affirmative.

“Are you married?

 “I am engaged,” the convict said.

“How old is your fiancée?”

 “23 years,” he said.

“Are your parents alive?

“Yes,” he said.

“Where are they?”

 “They are in Lagos,” he said.

“Do they know that you are in this problem?”

“Yes,” he said.

“This lady you are engaged to, is she aware that you are in this problem?”

“Yes, she is here,” he said.

“Where is she?”

The young lady stood up in the gallery and when the judge asked her what she does for a living, she said she was seeking for admission.

The judge said: “You heard the law; the law says that the minimum I can give you is 15 years and the maximum is 25 years.

“Assuming that I give you the minimum, if you add that to your 32 years of age, how old will you be by the time you come out (from prison)?”

“47 years,” the convict responded sadly.

“By the time you are coming out, do you think your parents will still be alive?”

“No,” he said.

“Do you think that young girl will wait for you for 15 years?”

“No,” he said.

“You see how you make life not just difficult for you but difficult for every other person. Have you done well?”

“No,” he said.

“What were you doing with this substance?”

“I have a gym and I used to sell it to those that come there,” the convict said.

“Now that you are gong to prison for 15 years, all those people, wil they be coming to see you?”

“No,” he said.

“What do you want me to do for you now?”

“Please, temper justice with mercy,” he begged.

Justice Ekwo, who sentenced him to one-year imprisonment, ordered the prison term to take effect from Aug  5, 2022.

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