By Wole Mosadomi
A Federal High Court sitting in Minna, Niger State capital has sentenced three persons to a total of 17 years imprisonment with hard labour for being in possession of over three tones of Indian hemp.
The convicts: Jaafaru Mohammed was sentenced for nine years, Zubairu Idris four years while Morufu Adebisi is also to serve four years as ruled by Justice Yahuza Sabiu.
While Muhammed was sentenced for two count charges of unlawful possession and unlawful transportation of the illegal substance; the other two convicts including, Adebisi Morufu who was the driver of the bus conveying the prohibited items were sentenced for four years each for unlawful transportation of the commodity.
The three convicts had earlier been arrested by the officials of the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency on (NDLEA) on the 4th of June, 2008 for being in possession of 3, 098 kilogrammes of cannabis sativa popularly known as Indian hemp at Rijau area of Niger state.
The three suspects, our correspondent gathered were said to be transporting the substance from Otuo-Okene to Sokoto, in Sokoto State before they were intercepted by the NDLEA operatives in Niger state.
The offences committed by the convicts, our correspondent learnt were contrary to and punishable under Section 11(b) of the NDLEA Act Cap N30 LFN of 2004.
In deciding the case, seven witnesses were called by the prosecutor, Mr. Morakinyo Ayokunle from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and 20 exhibits tendered including 100 sacks of Indian hemp.
Yahuza in his ruling reminded the convicts of their rights of appeal and directed the NDLEA Commander to publicly destroy the exhibits after 30 days.
In his reaction to the ruling of the court, the prosecutor described the judgment as a justification of the efforts at eradication of Indian hemp and similar substance from the state.
According to him, â€œIt is a justification of our efforts. As a lawyer I am satisfied we did not bring people who are innocent to court and our statutory duty of taking illicit drugs away from the streets is being achievedâ€.