A bill for an Act seeking to amend the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act and for other related Matters 2016 scaled through second reading in the senate yesterday.
The bill which prescribed stiffer penaliy for drug offenders if passed into law will reduce the consumption and sale of Illicit drugs in the country.
The bill titled: “ A bill for an Act to amend the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Act Cap N30 Laws of the federation of Nigeria , 2004”, was sponsored by Senator Gbenga Ashafa (APC Lagos East).
Ashafa in his lead debate, said: “ whereas the NDLEA Act prescribed 15 years to life imprisonment for culprits in narcotic cases, some judges have formed the habit of reducing sentences to lower terms and in some cases option of fines.
“However, rather than a minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years or maximum term of imprisonment for life, as stipulated in the Act; for some unknown reasons, some judges of the Federal High Court have continued to pass varied/discretionary sentences short of what is prescribed by the NDLEA Act”. he said
Citing instances of such reduced sentences, Ashafa recalled the case of one Shola Adeitan, 32 who was sentenced to five years for dealing in cocaine, while another convict, Bello Adam, 37 was sentenced to two years for marijuana.
Similarly, the senator recalled the case of a 19-year-old Pakistani, Iftikhar Arslan who was in 2015 sentenced to 18 months in prison by a Federal High Court in Lagos for importing 25.4kg of heroin into Nigeria.
He also cited the case of a 38-year-old businessman, Chibueze Onedigbo, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2015 by a Federal High Court in Lagos for drug trafficking.
He said, “Worse still, is the fact that when some of the judges pass these light terms of imprisonment, the convicts in some cases are further given options of fines, which is only available for accused persons found guilty of obstruction of the Agency or authorized officers, not for actual perpetrators of the offence.