24 January 2013

Nigeria: Court Jails South African Woman Over Drug Trafficking

A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday sentenced a 37-year old South African convict, Mrs. Duru Lindiwef, to 18 months imprisonment over attempt to export about 5.5 kilogrammes of Methamphetamine narcotic to her country.

Delivering her judgement, Justice Benedicta Molokwu ordered that the convict be repatriated back to South Africa at the expiration of her jail terms, which is to run from June, 27, 2012, the time of her initial arrest and detention.

"Considering the passionate plea of learned counsel for the convict, and her health challenges, the court is swayed to tamper justice with mercy. The convict is hereby sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, which shall run from the date of apprehension.

Moreso, the convict is ordered to be repatriated back to South Africa at the expiration of her jail terms" the judge ruled.

The convict, who had pleaded guilty to the charge and was convicted by the trial judge, Justice Benedicta Molokwu, was arraigned in November 26, 2012, on a one-count charge of possession of illicit drug. She was said to have been apprehended at the Murtala Mohammed Airport on June 27, 2012.

Justice Molokwu had adjourned the matter for sentencing yesterday and at the resumed hearing of the case, counsel to the convict Mr Eugene Okenyi, during allocutus, made a passionate plea for leniency on the convict.

Okenyi informed the court that the convict, a mother of one, was married to a Nigerian but had been a victim of circumstance as she had no knowledge of the whereabout of her husband and only son.

He pointed out that the convict was only misled into conveying the substance which she had no prior knowledge was put in her bag by a supposed samaritan who had paid her flight ticket back to South Africa.

Lindiwef's lawyer claimed that his client was HIV positive and is now so frustrated with the happenings around her,

Asking the court to tamper justice with mercy and be liberal with the sentence of the convict, Okenyi claimed that his client was HIV positive and is now so frustrated with the happenings around her.

"I therefore urged the court to be liberal with the sentence of the convict since she was equally remorseful and to enable her pick up the thread of her life again" he said.

Meanwhile, at her arraignment, the prosecutor Mr Femi Oloruntoba, who is the Director of Public Prosecution at the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), told the court that during an outward clearance of South African Airline flight to Johannesburg, about 5.5 kilogrammes of Metamphetamine narcotic was recovered from the convict.

According to the prosecutor, "the offence contravened section 11 (b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act, Cap N30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004"

Oloruntoba said the substance was concealed in a carton of sardine, to avoid suspicion, but was discovered by the female clearing officer at the South Africa departure table, after a thorough search.

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