On July 13, 2023, an Accra High Court sentenced Ernest Nnajuiba Ukechukwu, a Nigerian national residing in Brazil, to ten years in prison for the possession and attempted smuggling of 16,568.83 grams of cocaine into Ghana.
The court ruled that he would serve a minimum of 10 years of hard labor and pay a fine of ten thousand penalty units, with an additional three (3) years in default. The sentences would run concurrently.
Ukechukwu’s arrest took place at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) on December 11, 2022, when National Commission for Narcotics Control (NACOC) officials, acting on their daily routine, found discrepancies in his statements during arrival formalities.
Further inspection of his luggage revealed the hidden cocaine consignment, leading to his apprehension.
Subsequently, Ukechukwu faced six (6) charges related to narcotic offenses, encompassing the importation and possession of narcotic drugs without lawful authorization. During the proceedings at the Criminal Court Division of the Accra High Court, he pleaded guilty to all six counts, resulting in his conviction by Her Lordship Mary Ekue Yanzuh.
As part of the sentencing, the court ordered the immediate destruction of the confiscated cocaine exhibit, carried out by NACOC investigators in the presence of the court Registrar, State prosecutors, and the defense counsel on the same day at approximately 1433hrs.
NACOC issued a statement emphasizing its commitment to safeguarding public safety by combating illegal narcotics trade and usage. They highlighted that the possession, use, and transportation of illicit drugs without lawful authorization remain illegal and punishable under sections 40 (1) and 41 (1) of the Narcotics Control Commission Act 2020, (Act 1019).
The commission played an essential role in facilitating the sentencing to uphold its mandate of protecting the public from the harmful impact of illegal narcotics.