A Nigerian and a Kenyan have been sentenced to 10 years in prison each for trafficking heroin to The Netherlands and Nigeria respectively.
Samuel Uche was found with 484.315 grams of the drug, valued at Sh1,452,945, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi on March 3, 2017. This was during a search at DHL’s cargo office.
Mr Uche was convicted alongside Kenyan Geoffrey Onchangu Ondieki, who had been accused of trafficking 1,000.16 grams of heroin, valued at Sh3,000,480, to Nigeria.
The total value of the drugs is Sh4,453,425.
The court heard on Thursday that Mr Uche had put the drugs in a tortoise-shaped wood carving disguised as a birthday present.
During sentencing, Chief Magistrate Lucas Onyina noted that evidence showed he purchased wooden plates, spoons, forks, a mortar and sugar dishes, which he sent to one Ruth Brown of The Netherlands on March 1, 2017.
Mr Onyina also said documents shown to the court indicated that on March 17, 2017, his items were found at the JKIA, ready for export to that country.
The court heard that Mr Ondieki’s drugs were found when customs and anti-narcotics officers dismantled the motorcycle spare parts he was transporting.
The magistrate said although he denied being the exporter of the heroin to Mr Uche’s brother in Nigeria, his national identity card number corresponded with that found in export documents.
The magistrate said the substance found in the spare parts and the wood carvings was heroin.
“The creamish, powdery substance in the ply bags sent to the government analyst was found to contain diacetylmorphine (heroin), a narcotic drug listed in the first schedule of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act, 1994,” he said.
The court further said the office of the director of public prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that the two trafficked the drugs.
“Drug trafficking is a vice that should be fought by all given the negative effects to society locally and internationally,” Mr Onyina noted.
Soon after their conviction and sentencing, defence lawyer Evans Ondieki lodged an appeal at the High Court, saying “the magistrate erred in convicting the accused without corroborating evidence”.
In the appeal, Mr Uche argues that key witnesses were not called to testify and asks the court to quash the conviction and set aside the sentence.
He also says the seizure notice the customs officer at the JKIA issued was invalid and that the sentence is too harsh for first offenders.
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