Lagos tenant escapes after storing hemp, landlord jailed
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has sentenced a 51-year-old landlord, Saheed Ojomu, to five-year imprisonment for allowing his tenant to use his shop to warehouse cannabis.
Justice Daniel Osiagor handed down the sentence to the convict after he changed his not-guilty plea to guilty.
The convict was arrested over the banned substance found in one of his shops on March 31, 2017, by operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
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During his arrest and arraignment, he claimed that the banned substance belonged to one of his tenants, Sakiru (now at large), and pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The charge read, “That you, Saheed Ojomu, 46, on or about March 31, 2017, at No. 1, Osho Street, Island, Lagos State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, being occupier and manager of a shop at No.1, Osho Street, Lagos Island, unlawfully permitted same to be used by one Sakiru (now at large) for the purpose of storing and dealing in 372.6 kilogrammes of cannabis sativa, a narcotic drug similar to cocaine, heroin and LSD, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 12 of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act, Cap. N30 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.”
During trial, the prosecution called two witnesses and tendered some exhibits, which the court admitted.
However, at the resumed trial of the convict on Wednesday, his counsel, Mrs Vivienne Ekwegh, informed the court that her client had decided to change his plea.
The prosecutor, Mrs N. J. Mamza, did not object to the application of the defence.
After listening to both counsel on the new development, Justice Osiagor ordered that the convict retake his plea.
After his plea was retaken, the prosecutor reviewed the facts of the case and urged the court to sentence the shop owner in accordance with relevant laws.
But counsel for the convict, Ekwegh, in her plea for mercy, described her client as a ‘victim of circumstances’, as he was unaware that his tenant warehoused the banned substance in his shop.
She, therefore, urged the court to award a fine option in lieu of a custodian sentence.
In his judgment, Justice Osiagor sentenced the convict to five-year imprisonment.
However, the judge ordered the convict to pay a fine of N300,000.
In addition to the monetary fine, the judge also ordered the convict to perform three weeks of non-custodian community service.