A federal high court in Lagos state on Thursday sentenced 20 Ghanaian fishermen to one year each for transporting 13,670 kilograms of marijuana, also known as cannabis sativa, from Ghana to Nigeria.
Justice Nicholas Oweibo convicted and sentenced them after he found them guilty of the charges of conspiracy and illegal transportation of the drug.
Among the convicted fishermen are Francis Teye, Kweke Komel, Gad Adjah, Theophilus Tetteh, Kwesi Aboagye, Ekon Fynn, Kwamena Baah, Kwabina Adjei, Micheal Okutu, Isaac Kofi, Kweku Moko, Kwezi Adzi and Kweku Mensah.
Others include Micheal Kofi, Ekon Bentum, Kwesi Amissah, Joshua Huago, Otu Otipeseku, Isaac Yorsson and Nana Kodwo.
The convicts were arrested with the drug transported from their country to Nigerian territorial waters on January 14, 2022.
They were charged with two counts of conspiracy and illegal transportation of the substance.
The District Attorney, Mr. Fingere Owen, told the court that the violations violated and were punishable under Sections 11(b) and 14(b) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap. N30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
The defendants pleaded guilty to the charges.
After their admissions of guilt, the prosecutor has assessed the facts of the case.
Owen also filed a number of exhibits, urging the court to find and sentence them in accordance with the sections they were charged with.
However, lawyers for the convicts, Mr Uche Okoronkwo, who headed Calistus Onyewueke, both of Minerva’s legal practice, told the court that all the defendants were first-time offenders with no previous criminal record.
Okoronkwo told the court that his customers were fishermen hired by an alleged customer who did not tell them the contents of the bag.
Justice Oweibo sentenced them to one year each in prison.
The judge also ordered that the sentence should start from the date of their arrest.
However, he ordered the convicts to pay N50,000 each in lieu of the penalty and ordered that the boat used in smuggling the banned substance be confiscated to the federal government.