The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has convicted and sentenced a middle man, Obidike Onodyer to seven years imprisonment for importing 485 grammes of Cocaine .
Justice Ayokunle Faji handed down the sentence on Onodyer after a trial that lasted for about six years after. the convict decided to change his not guilty plea to guilty.
Onodyer, was arrested by men of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, on August 5, 2015 at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos during the outward clearance of perssengers on Royal Air Maroc from Brazil enroute Casablanca to Lagos.
The anti narcotic agency through one of its prosecutor, Mrs Juliana Imaobong Iraobuchi subsequently filed a count charge against the convict for unlawful importation of the banned substance in a charge marked FHC/L/40c/15 dated 29th of September, 2015.
Following his arraignment, Obidike Onodyer pleaded not guilty to the one count charge while he was granted bail by the court.
While on bail Onodyer committed another offence by lying to the Nigerian Immigration Services, NIS, and obtained another International Passport in place of the one confiscated on the order of the court.
As the trial was proceeding, the convict abandoned his trial and the court consequently revoked his bail when he was re-arrested and was ordered to be remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services, NCS in November 2018.
With the resumption of his trial in full gear after the revocation of his bail, Onodyer was said to have committed another offence by procuring fake medical certificate to apply for bail on medical ground, but the prosecutor was able to prove that the certificate was forged.
Midway to the trial, Onodyer applied for a plea bargain, but this was not successful, he then opted to change his plea from not guilty to guilty.
On the 16th of July 2021, Obidike change his not guilty plea to guilty, consequet upon which the prosecutor reviewed the facts of the case.
In reviewing the facts of the case, Iraobuchi, tendered ten exhibits in support of the prosecution case and urged the court to convict the defendant as charged.
The defendant’s counsel, Mr Adebayo Onifade in his allocators, urged the court to tender Justice with mercy, adding that the convict has become remorseful for his action, hence the change of plea.
Onifade added that the convict has promised to turn a new leave and never to involve himself in any illegal act.
While sentencing the convict to seven years imprisonment, Justice Faji said the term should run from November 2018 when Onodyer’s bail was revoked,
The trial judge also ordered that the new International Passport which he fraudulently obtained should be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Justice Faji specifically directed the NDLEA to write the agency so that they can take necessary steps to ensure that the passport is not valid.
The judge condemned the criminal acts of the convict who only change his plea after wasting the precious time of the court for six years.
The one count charge against the convict reads ” That you Obidike Onodyer, male , adult on or about the 5th day of August, 2015 during the outward clearance of passengers on Royal Marroc Airline from Brazil through Casablanca to Nigeria at the ‘D’ Arrival Hall Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court , without lawful authority imported Cocaine weighing 485 grammes and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 11(a) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Act, Cap N 30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.