Teacher bags three months community service for selling drugs

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A 57-year-old teacher, Azikiwe Oteka, was on Wednesday convicted and sentenced to three months of community service by the Federal High Court in Lagos State, for unlawfully dealing in various banned substances.

Justice Yelim Bogoro ordered Oteka to perform the community sentence, in lieu of a custodian sentence, after he pleaded guilty to the three counts of unlawful dealing in the banned drugs.

In addition to the community service, the convict was also ordered to pay a total fine of N400, 000, as fine.

Oteka was arraigned by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency before the court sometime in February 2024, on three counts of unlawful dealing in 12 grams of cocaine, 12 grams of heroin, and 19 grams of cannabis sativa, popularly called marijuana.

The NDLEA’s prosecution counsel, Mr. Lambert Nor, told the court that the convict was arrested on December 9, 2023, at the Honda Company Area, at Ajao Estate, in Lagos State, where he was hawking the banned substances.

But the convict pleaded not guilty to the charge against him when he was first arraigned.

However, midway through the trial, Oteka changed his plea and admitted to dealing in the banned substances.

Consequently, Nor reviewed the facts of the charge and urged the court to convict and sentence him, based on his plea, and the exhibits tendered before the court.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Wednesday, the prosecutor informed the court that the day’s court business was the sentencing of the convict.

The convict’s lawyer, Oke Ojakovo, did not oppose the prosecution.

Based on the counsel’s submissions, the trial judge convicted him and thereafter asked him if he had any allocutus. An allocution, or allocutus, is a formal statement made to the court by the defendant who has been found guilty prior to being sentenced. It is part of the criminal procedures in some jurisdictions using common law.

The convict, in his plea for mercy, told the court that he was a secondary school teacher in Delta State.

He also told the court that he left his teaching job and started peddling drugs, due to his wife’s death.

Oteka begged the court to have mercy on him as he had learnt his lesson since the day he was arrested.

The convict’s lawyer, Ojakovo, prayed the court to temper justice with mercy in sentencing his client, on the grounds that he was a first-time offender, who did not have any previous conviction record.

Justice Bogoro after listening to the allocutus made by Oteka’s lawyer, sentenced the convict to three months of community service.

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