Court Mace

Non-custodial sentence: Two bag 450-hour community service for drug dealing in Lagos

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday convicted and sentenced a 45-year-old businesswoman, Josephine Okpai, to 200 hours of community service for unlawful dealing in 1.3kg of cannabis sativa.

Also sentenced was a 44-year-old fashion designer, Waheed Olayiwola, who bagged 250 hours of community service for selling 145kg of hard drugs.

While pleading for leniency, Okpai told the court that she was introduced to the selling of drugs after the Nigerian Customs Service seized her frozen goods sometime in April 2023.

Okpai, who is a mother of six, told the court that she went into the business so that she could feed her children and also pay their school fees.

She said she had been in the custody of the National Drugs Law and Enforcement Agency since February 23, 2024, when she was arrested.

Justice Abimbola Awogboro sentenced Okpai after finding her guilty of the offence.

The judge held that Okpai would have been sentenced to life imprisonment, but that because she was a first-time offender who didn’t waste the time of the court and her plea and that of her counsel O. Ojakovo for leniency, the court would be lenient and, therefore, sentenced her to 200 hours community service.

“I have reflected in the mitigation of your counsel for leniency and your plea. It is my belief that you have learnt your lessons and will turn a new leaf.

“ You are hereby sentenced to 200 hours of community service, and it is hereby ordered that the remaining drug be sent to NDLEA, for destruction,” Justice Awogboro held.

Similarly, Justice Awogboro, who handed down the 250-hour community service sentence to the second convict, Olayiwola, held that she reluctantly gave him the sentence because he was also a first-time offender.

Olayiwola, a father of three, while kneeling in the dock, pleaded with the judge for leniency, saying that he had learnt his lessons and would never engage in the sale of drugs again.

The convict, who pleaded guilty to the charge, told the court that he started selling the drugs last year alongside his fashion designer business.

He said the 145kg of the dry weed was discovered at his shop where he kept it, when he was arrested. He also told the court that he and his family do not take the drugs.

The convict’s counsel, O. Ojakovo, in his plea for mercy, told the court that Olayiwola has been in the National Drug Law and Enforcement Agency’s custody since he was arrested on January 29, 2024.

The prosecution counsel, J.O. Nejedu, told the court that the convict committed the offence on January 26, 2024.

According to the prosecutor, the offence committed contravened Sections 274 (2) and 356 (2) of the administration of criminal justice law.

In her judgment, Justice Awogboro found Olayiwola guilty of the offence and accordingly sentenced him to 250 hours of community service.

She also ordered that the recovered drug and the remaining sample should be taken to the NDLEA for public destruction if the judgment was not appealed.