Drug trafficking: Nigerian handed 30 years jail term

22Jun 2019
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Drug trafficking: Nigerian handed 30 years jail term

THE High Court Division for corruption and economic crimes yesterday sentenced a Nigerian national to 30 year in prison after convicting him of attempting to traffic in narcotics via the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) last year.

Christian Ugbechi.

Judge Sirrilius Matupa said the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that Christian Ugbechi had carried 56 pellets of heroin weighing 947.57 grams when he was intercepted by police officers upon search and release of the same at JNIA in January last year.

The prosecution had produced 11 witnesses including the arresting officer and 22 exhibits that proved that the offender indeed committed the crime, the judge told the court in the sentencing.

“After going through witness accounts and exhibits, the court agreed with the prosecution that the accused person committed the crime of drug trafficking,” the judge said.

Quoting section 15 subsection one of the Drugs and Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Drugs Act, the judge said the offender who was found guilty on Wednesday must spend 30 years behind bars for his crime.

One of the prosecution’s witnesses was the officer commanding Airport Police Station, Dickson Haule who told the court that on the day of arrest—January 28, 2018, he was informed of the incident by the arresting officer and he proceeded to the Interpol section and witnessed as the 56 pellets were being taken out of Ugbechi’s backpack.

In his defence, Ugbechi had argued that on the day he was arrested, he was searched three times and nothing was found, demanding that CCTV footage of the event be produced by the prosecution.

But the judge declined to entertain the argument, saying that the then defendant attempted to control the way prosecution adduced evidence in the case. To the contrary, the judge said the evidence adduced pointed to the guilt of the Nigerian.

The judge went ahead to say that the witnesses and the exhibits adduced by prosecution included a report from the Government Chemist that confirmed that the substances with which the Nigerian was nabbed with were indeed narcotic drugs.

In his concluding remarks before the Judge handed down the sentence, State Attorney Constantine Kakula called for harsh punishment to serve as a lesson to other drug offenders especially foreigners why try to make Tanzania a gateway in drug trafficking.

But defence lawyer Jeremiah Ntobesya prayed for leniency, arguing that his client had already stayed behind bars for one-and-half years during the trial. He said his client has a wife and two children to fend for and was suffering from heart ailments.