Thursday, February 11, 2010 (Page 38)
FOUR Americans and Nigerians have admitted to possessing cocaine and heroin, amidst pleas for mercy from the Accra Fast Track High Court which heard their case.
For saving the court’s time and energy, the four were sentenced to a total of 40 years’ imprisonment, while it ordered the destruction of the narcotics they possessed, in the presence of the police and court officials.
Each of them is to serve a minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment.
Shadrak Bamfo Ntiamoah, a 24-year-old fire officer, and Abena Serwah, a 19-year-old student, both Americans, pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine, while the two Nigerians, Benedict Onwuka and Friday Mgbanya, pleaded guilty to possessing 533 grammes of heroin and 388.53 grammes of cocaine, respectively.
A third American, Joanne Gabriel, however, pleaded not guilty to possessing narcotic drugs without lawful authority and was remanded in custody by the court, presided over Mr Justice Charles Quist.
The facts of the case were that the Americans were, on September 9, 2009, arrested at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) on suspicion of carrying narcotic drugs.
Besides concealing the suspected drugs in the three pairs of snickers they were wearing, Abena and Joanne had stuffed their private parts with four large lump-size drugs. Joanne alone carried three of the four lump-size drugs in her private parts. Shadrack also concealed 19 pellets of the suspected drug in his underwear.
They were arrested while going through departure formalities to travel to New York. The three convicts arrived in Ghana on September 2, 2009, on the sponsorship of someone identified only as Alhaji Saibu, while one Abubakari Issaka, based in the US, was said to be the owner of the said drugs.
According to the prosecution, efforts to track down the said Alhaji and Abubakari had proved futile.
Counsel for the convicted Americans prayed the court to temper justice with mercy and sentence the two to two years’ imprisonment each but the judge reminded counsel that the law did not allow the courts to jail a drug trafficker less than 10 years.
On the part of Benedict, he was arrested by officials from the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) at the KIA on August 11, 2009 after he had arrived from Afghanistan onboard an Emirates airline and was suspected of carrying narcotic drugs.
According to the prosecution, Benedict confessed to ingesting narcotic drugs and was placed under observation, during which he expelled 33 pellets of heroin.
Before his conviction, Benedict pleaded for mercy on the grounds that his father was dead, making him the breadwinner of the family.
Friday pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine and told the court that he did that out of frustration. He also promised the that court he would not commit that offence again.
He was arrested at the KIA on June 11, 2010 by NACOB officials after he had disembarked from an Emirates airline en route to Abidjan.
During interrogation, the convict denied carrying narcotic drugs but his urine tested positive for narcotic drugs, prompting NACOB officials to take him for an X-ray.
The X-ray proved he was carrying foreign materials in his stomach and within 48 hours he expelled 27 pellets of substances suspected to be cocaine.
According to Friday, someone he only named as Jerry gave him the drugs to be delivered in Abidjan for a fee of $1,500.
All sentences are to take effect from the day each of the convicts was arrested.