Court jails two poachers over possession of elephant tusks, pangolin scales

Ogunsakin Mustapha
4 Min Read

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Wednesday have convicted and sentenced two poachers, John Kanu, and Obinna Eze, to four years imprisonment, for conspiracy and unlawful possession of 839.4kg of Pangolin Scales and 145kg of Elephant Tusks.

Both Kanu and Eze were given the jail-term, by Justice Nicholas Oweibo, after they pleaded guilty to the charges made against them by the Federal Operation Unit, Zone A, of the Nigerian Customs Services, Lagos.

The two convicts were arraigned alongside Anthony Onyebuchi and Monday Nnamanni, in an amended charge marked FHC/L/123c/22.

The Convicts and the two men had pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were formerly arraigned before the court.

However, art the resumed hearing of the charge today, the two convicts informed the court of their intention to change their plea, which was granted by the court.

These suspects and others were arrested as a result of a joint wildlife enforcement operations by Nigeria Customs Service( NCS) and Wildlife Justice Commission( WJC), targeting illegal wildlife traders and traffickers from Africa to Asia

Following the new development, the presiding judge, ordered that the amended charge be ready to them.

The two convicts pleaded guilty to the charge, while Anthony Onyebuchi and Monday Nnamanni pleaded not guilty to the charges. when the charges were read to them.

With the convicts’ guilty plea, the prosecutors, Mr. David Ereh, Michael Osong and Abidemi Aluko, while reviewing the case of the charge, told the court that the convict’s and others on February 2, 2022, conspired among themselves to warehoused the prohibited items, at Adeba in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos State.

The prosecutors told the court that the convicts’ actions contravened sections contravened sections 516 of the Criminal Code Act, Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. Section 7(3) of the National Environmental (Protection of Endangered Species in International Trade) Regulations, 20n and punishable under section 7(4) of the same Regulations. And section 5(1) of the Endangered Species (Control of International Trade and Traffic) (Amendment) Act, 2016 and punishable under section 5(1)(a) of the same Act.

The prosecutors urge the court to convict those that pleaded guilty to the charges and sentence them according to the sections of the laws that they were charges with. While also asked the court for trial date against those that pleaded not guilty.

But their lawyer, Mr. Chukwu Agwu, in his allucutor, pleaded with the court to tamper justice with mercy, in sentencing his client.

Mr. Agwu told the court that the convicts are first term offenders, who did not have previous conviction record. And that the court should consider that the convicts did not waste precious time of the court.

In his judgment, Justice Oweibo sentenced the two convicts to two years each on count one and two, while pardoned them on count tree.

The judge has adjourned till September 28, for the trial of the remaining two defendants.

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