A 31-year-old bricklayer, Bolaji Rasheed, has been sentenced to two years imprisonment by Justice Abimbola Awogboro of the Federal High Court in Lagos for selling Cannabis Sativa, commonly known as Indian Hemp, at the Ikoyi custodial centre of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCoS). The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) had brought a two-count charge against Rasheed for trafficking and unlawful dealing in 5.3 kilograms of Indian hemp.
Mrs Monica Erondu, the prosecutor in the case, had informed the judge that Rasheed was caught selling the banned substance at the Ikoyi Centre of the Nigerian Correctional Service on December 2, 2022. The offence is contrary to and punishable under Sections 11(b) and 11 (c) of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act Cap N 30 LFN 2004. Erondu urged the court to sentence the convict in accordance with sections 274(2) and 375 of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015.
During the trial, the defendant pleaded guilty to the charges, but also begged for mercy, claiming that it was his first time selling the banned substance. He promised not to engage in any form of a crime if given a second chance by the court. His defence lawyer, Bolanle Kolawole, told the court that her client was a bricklayer who smoked Indian hemp for energy while working. She pleaded with the court to award an option of a fine instead of a custodial sentence.
However, Justice Awogboro sentenced Rasheed to two years imprisonment without an option of a fine, stating that the verdict would serve as a deterrent to others who may be engaged in similar acts or are planning to get involved in crime in the future. The judge stressed the importance of eradicating the drug menace and upheld the law to ensure a safer society.
The case of Bolaji Rasheed highlights the need for the NDLEA to intensify efforts to curb drug trafficking and use in Nigeria. It also reinforces the importance of the justice system in punishing offenders and serving as a deterrent to others. The verdict should serve as a warning to others who may be involved in similar acts, and the society at large should strive to eradicate drug abuse to build a safer and healthier nation.