Lukman Olabiyi

A pharmacist, Mr. Geoffrey Ezeukwu, and a businessman, Mr. Moses Ajibor, have got more than they bargain for as the Federal High Court, Lagos, convicted and sentenced them to three years and two years imprisonment respectively for illegal dealing on the banned drug.

The convicts faced trial before the court for illegal dealing in 200 kilograms of Ephedrine.

Justice Saliu Saidu, after reviewing the facts of the case, convicted the defendants on one count each out of the five-count charge pressed against them by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), and found the convicts guilty.

By a five-count amended charge filed by the NDLEA, the two defendants who are now convicts were alleged to have conspired to deal in unauthorized and banned hard drugs, unlawful distribution of the hard drug and illegal diversion of the said hard drug.

Following the conviction of the two convicts, their counsel, Mr. Damian Dodo, (SAN) and Professor Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), urged the court to temper justice with mercy in sentencing the defendants.

The counsels also urged the court to take cognizance of the fact that the convicts were first time offenders with no record of previous crime.

Dodo, in his submission, stated that the convicts were the sole breadwinners of their respective families and that the second convict who is a practicing pharmacist had contributed immensely to providing affordable healthcare to the Nigeria populace.

He, therefore, urged the court to impose a light custodial sentence on the convicts.

Responding, the prosecution led by Mr. Joseph, Ngbona Sunday, the NDLEA’s Director of Legal, told the court that there were no criminal records of the convicts. He, however, told the court to take cognizance of the nature of the offense and the alarming rate that drug-related offenses were increasing in the society.

Sunday further urged the court to grant an auxiliary order directing the Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria, PCN, to take further action against the second convict,  Geoffrey Ezeukwu, whom he said was a practicing pharmacist.

Justice Saidu in his judgment, said: “I have listened to the alocutors of the council on behalf of convicts and the submission of the prosecutor as to the fact that there are no criminal records of the convicts.”

The trial judge said that he convicted the duo on one count each out of the five-count charge. “I hereby sentence the first convict,  Moses Ajibor, to three years imprisonment and the second convict,  Geoffrey  Ezeukwu, to two-year imprisonment.