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Lagos court jails 20 Ghanaian fishermen over 13kg of marijuana

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Twenty Ghanaian fishermen, were on Thursday, convicted by a Lagos Federal High Court, for conspiracy and unlawful transportation of 13.670 kilograms of marijuana, popularly called cannabis sativa, from Ghana to Nigeria.

The convicted Ghanaian fishermen are: Francis Teye, Kweke Komel, Gad Adjah, Theophilus Tetteh, Kwesi Aboagye, Ekon Fynn, Kwamena Baah, Male, Adult, Kwabina Adjei, Micheal Okutu, Male, Adult, Isaac Kofi, Male, Adult, Kweku Moko; Kwezi Adzi and Kweku Mensah.

Others include Micheal Kofi, Ekon Bentum, Kwesi Amissah, Joshua Huago, Otu Otipeseku, Isaac Yorsson and Nana Kodwo.

The convicted Ghanaian fishermen were arrested with the banned substance on Nigeria territorial waters, on January 14, 2022.

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They were brought before the court presided over by Justice Nicholas Oweibo in a charge two count-charge bordering on conspiracy and unlawful transportation of the said substance.

The prosecutor, Fingere Dinneys Owen, told the court that the offences committed by the Ghanaian fishermen are contrary to and punishable under Sections 11(b) and 14(b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

The prosecutor, upon the plea of guilty by the fishermen to the charges, asked the court for the review of the facts of the charge.

The prosecutor, Mr. Owen, after reviewing the facts of the charge and tendered some exhibits, urged the court to convict and sentence the fishermen in accordance with the sections they were charged with.

However, lawyers to the convict, Uche Okoronkwo who led Calistus Onyewueke, both of Minerva Legal Practice told the court that all the defendants are first time offenders without previous criminal record.

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Uche also urged the court to consider that that the convicts did not waste the precious time of the court, as they all pleaded guilty to the charges at early opportunity.

He told the court that his clients were fishermen, who were engaged by a purported customer, who did not tell them the content of the bag.

He further told the court that the convicts have been remorseful since they were arrested on January 14, and that the current situation has affected their marriage and personal life.

Uche urged the court to consider section 311(3) of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, which he said “what is required after conviction, is to take into consideration of all mitigating factors”.

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Uche also urged the court to tamper justice with mercy in sentencing the convicts. And pleaded to court to consider the option of fine instead of custodian sentence.

Justice Oweibo, after listening to the counsel’s plea and confirming from the prosecutor that the Ghanaian fishermen had no precious conviction record, sentenced them to one year imprisonment each.

The judge also ordered that the period of convicts’ sentence commence from the date of their arrest, January 14, 2022.

The judge however ordered the Ghanaian fishermen to pay the sum of N50, 000, each in lieu of the sentence and that the boat used in smuggling the banned substance be forfeited to the Nigerian government.

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