A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, on Wednesday, convicted and sentenced two men, 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 handed the sentence by Justice Nicholas Oweibo, after they pleaded guilty to the charges 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, at the resumed hearing of the case, 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 read 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.
The prosecutors, Mr. David Ereh, Michael Osong and Abidemi Aluko, while reviewing the case of the charge, told the court that the convicts’ 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 urged the court to convict those that pleaded guilty to the charges and sentence them according to the sections of the laws that they were charged with.
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 adjourned till September 28, for the trial of the remaining two defendants.