Drug Trafficking: Appeal Court Upholds 25 Years Jail-Term On Lagos Socialite, Ariket’s Accomplice
Story By Gbenga Ogunbufunmi
The Lagos Division of the Appeal Court, today, upheld the judgement of the Federal High Court, Lagos which imposed 25 years Jail-Term, on a 68 years old woman, Mrs Odeyemi Omolara, who was convicted for trafficking 1.595 kilograms of cocaine
Mrs Odeyemi Omolaran an ally of a Lagos Socialite, Mrs. Funmilola Arike Ogbuaya, also known as Funmilola Ogundipe whose trial has been hanging due to the transfer of the trial judge, Justice Haditza Rabiu- Shagari from the Lagos division of the Federal High Court to the Sokoto division.
Justice Hadizat Rabiu-Shagari, had on June 29, 2017, convicted and sentenced Omolara, who was 64 years old as at time of her conviction,she was charged before the court alongside the Lagos socialite, Arike, for attempting to export 1.595 kilograms of Cocaine to Saudi Arabia.
The offences according to the prosecutor, Mr. Abu Ibrahim, are contrary to sections 14(b), 11(b) and 19 of the National Drugs Laws Enforcement Agency Act Cap N30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Justice Rabiu-Shagari awarded the jail term on the convict, after she changed her plea mid-way into the trial of the charge against her.
Following the change of plea by the convict, the prosecutor, Mr. Ibrahim, tendered several exhibits which includes the convict’s five confessional statements (both in English and Yoruba versions); her ECOWAS traveling passport with number A50324236; certificate of test analysis; drug analysis report; Egypt Air ticket; a large envelope; and two transparent evidence pouches where some of the seized Cocaine was packaged. All these were admitted as exhibits A to L1, by the court.
In sentencing and convicting the Onolara who also bears Ariyo Monsurat Olabisi, Justice Rabiu-Shagari held that; “I have listened carefully to the defendant’s counsel, it’s true that sentence is not for punitive, but reformatory and to serve as deterrent to others. Consequently, the convict is hereby sentence to 25 years imprisonment, starting from when she was first arrested”.
The judge also ordered that the ECOWAS passports and the Egypt Air ticket be forfeited to the Federal government of Nigeria.
Dissatisfied with the judgment, the convict through her lawyer, Galadima, approached the appellant court, for the proposed of upturning the jail terms. While NDLEA through its lawyer, Barrister Abu Ibrahim, also urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
Delivering judgment on the appeal today, Justice Ebiowei Tobi, held that; “the appeal lacks in merit, as there is no court discretion on Section 11(b) of NDLEA Act, as what the section prescribed is life Imprisonment.
“The appellant was lucky to have been given 25 years jail by the lower court. Consequently, the appeal failed and it’s hereby dismissed”.
Both Ariket and her convicted accomplice, Mrs. Odeyemi, who was arrested on her way to Saudi Arabia, with 1.595 kilograms of cocaine concealed in a traveling bag, were arraigned before the court, sometimes in May, 2017,
Meanwhile, the trial of the Lagos Socialite, Ariket, has been stalled since her accomplice was convicted in 2017, following the transfer of the trial judge, Justice Rabiu-Shagari, to another jurisdiction of the court.
One of the counts of the charge against the Socialite and the convict read: “that you Odeyemi Omolara a.k.a Ariyo Monsurat Olabisi, of 27, Adebule Street, Off Palm Avenue, Mushin, Lagos, on or about February 24, 2017, at Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, during the outward clearance of passengers of Egypt Air Flight to Saudi Arabia, at the Egypt Air check-in-counter, without lawful authority exported 1.595 kilograms of Cocaine, a narcotic drug, and you are thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 19 of the National Drugs Laws Enforcement Agency Act Cap N30, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.