A Federal High Court sitting in Benin, the Edo State capital, has sentenced a major drug dealer identified as Mike Omoarukhe, his manager and three other workers in his cannabis farms to 75 years imprisonment for engaging in illegal drug farming.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) operatives had on July 1, 2021 stormed the Ughieudu forest, Uhunwonde Local Government Area of Edo State, where six persons: Elijah John; Friday Emma; Itoro Emmanuel; Daniel Emmanuel; Udom Etok and Abraham Monday Thompson were arrested with 50kg cannabis.
A follow up operation in the Ughieudu forest on 3rd July 2021, led to the arrest of Emmanuel Ekpeyoung and the total destruction of three cannabis farms with a combined size of 22. 210421 hectares and seizure of 133. 5kg cannabis.
After weeks of manhunt for the owner of the farms, the 36-year-old Omoarukhe was later arrested at a drinking joint in Irrua, after which they were all charged to court, except two of them; Udom Etok and Abraham Monday Thompson who were discovered to be minors.
The convicts were brought before the court in July by the NDLEA in a five count charge number FHC/B/107c/2021 bordering on possession of 183.5 kilograms of cannabis sativa, conspiracy to possess, cultivate and cultivation of 22 hectares of cannabis farms.
Delivering his judgement in the case yesterday, Justice A.C. Obiozor sitting in Court 2 of the Federal High Court, Benin Judicial Division, sentenced the defendants to 15 years on each of the five counts, bringing the total years of imprisonment to 75 years, which will run concurrently. The judge however gave the convicts an option of Seven Hundred Thousand Naira (N 700,000) fine on all the counts.
Unsatisfied with the ruling, the NDLEA Chairman, Buba Marwa, directed that immediate appeal be filed at the appellate court against the option of N700, 000 fine granted the convicts by the trial judge.