Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court in Lagos, on Monday, convicted and sentenced a businessman, Obidike Onodyer, to seven years imprisonment for trafficking 485 grammes of cocaine into Nigeria.
Justice Faji jailed Onodyer after he changed his plea to guilty in the trial that lasted for six years.
The convict was arraigned before the court by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on a one-count charge of unlawful importation of the banned substance on September 29, 2015.
The prosecutor, Mrs. Juliana Iraobuchi, had told the court that the convict was first arrested by the NDLEA on August 5, 2015 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos during an outward clearance of passengers on Royal Air Maroc from Brazil to Casablanca enroute Lagos.
He then pleaded not guilty to the charge.
He was again arrested by the police over allegation of lying to the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to obtain another international passport in place of the one confiscated on the order of the court.
The convict later jumped bail, a development which made the court to revoke his bail.
He was re-arrested and remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCS) in November, 2018.
At the resumption of his trial, Onodyer was said to have committed yet another offence by procuring a fake medical certificate to apply for bail on medical ground.
But luck ran out of him when the prosecutor proved to the court that the certificate was forged.
Midway into the trial, Onodyer applied for a plea bargain but it was not accepted.
He then opted to change his plea from not guilty to guilty on July 16, 2021.
The court upheld his application, upon which the prosecutor reviewed the facts of the case.
While reviewing the facts, Iraobuchi tendered 10 exhibits in support of the prosecution’s case and prayed the court to convict the defendant as charged.
The defence counsel, Adebayo Onifade, begged the court to tamper justice with mercy, adding that the convict had become remorseful for his actions, and had promised to turn a new leaf, hence the change of plea.
In his judgment, Justice Faji said the term should run from November 2018 when Onodyer’s bail was revoked.
Justice Faji also directed that the new international passport which he fraudulently procured should be forfeited to the Federal Government.
He ordered the NDLEA to write the Nigerian Immigration Service so that they can take necessary steps to ensure that the passport is invalidated.
The judge condemned the criminal acts of the convict who only changed his plea after wasting the court’s “precious time for six years.”