A Nigerian post-graduate student is set to be sentenced to a long spell in jail in Australia for trafficking in drugs.
A Nigerian post-graduate student, Jackson Igwebuike who was found guilty of importing drugs worth $10 million [about N3.6 billion], into Australia, has been found guilty by a court in that country and would be sentenced on October 25, 2017.
The Canberra Times reports that Igwebuike had allegedly imported methamphetamine into Canberra in ornate golden fish statuettes in October 2015, but alert security men intercepted the drugs and substituted the ice before he collected the parcel.
At the court hearing, federal prosecutors said the drug could have had 'calamitous consequences' if sold in the community.
In his defence, lawyers for the 34 year-old Igwebuike who graduated from the University of Benin before proceeding for his post-graduate studies in Australia, agreed he acted as 'more than just a mere courier' when he accepted delivery of the 8.47 grams of pure ice before he attempted to board a Murray's bus to Sydney with the drugs in his bag.
An ACT Supreme Court jury found Igwebuike guilty of importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug in August.
It was learned that Igwebuike was caught in a police sting after Australian Border Force officers intercepted packages destined for Canberra.
His trial heard the drugs were discovered when three 20 kilogram statuettes that arrived in a shipping crate from China were X-rayed by officers at Port Botany.
Inside one statue of a fish statute, Narcotic officials found 43 packages that contained a combined total of 10.58 kilograms of methamphetamine.
Federal Police then swapped the drugs with an 'inert substance' before the fish statue was put back together and repacked.
Taps on Igwebuike’s phones picked up communication between him and another man in Igbo language and also with a freight company based in Sydney.
Prosecutors said Igwebuike used the name 'Solomon David' and asked the company for the package to be delivered to an address in Kaleen.
Undercover police later watched as the packages were delivered to the address and collected by Igwebuike, who took them to a second address in the same suburb.
In another phone conversation with another man soon after, Igwebuike was heard discussing transport and meeting places in Sydney where he was to deliver the drugs.
He was later arrested as he stood in a queue at the Jolimont Centre for a Murray's bus to Sydney while the police seized a suitcase filled with 43 packages of the drug substitute.
On interrogation, Igwebuike reportedly told officials he didn’t know the statuettes had been filled with drugs, claiming he had been approached by two men in a car park and asked to pick up some decorative glass items.
He added that the men later showed up at his house after he had collected the parcels and broke the statues open, before threatening to kill his wife and destroy him if he didn’t take the drugs to Sydney.
Commonwealth prosecutor Edward Chen told a sentencing hearing on Tuesday, October 3, that Igwebuike had maintained he had been doing a favour for a friend and wouldn’t admit he committed the crime for profit.
“The offender does not seem to demonstrate any willingness to accept responsibility for his actions,” Chen said.
Defence lawyer, James Sabharwal said Igwebuike had come to Australia to study at the University of Canberra and the fact he would not be able to complete his post-graduate studies was a form of punishment.
Igwebuike who has been in detention since he was arrested, could be deported when he was released, the court heard.
Acting Chief Justice Hilary Penfold said some comments in a letter Igwebuike had written to the court, which indicated he did accept some responsibility, raised questions as to why he maintained his innocence to a pre-sentence report author.
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