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Federal High Court Discharges Pregnant Defendant who pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of Marijuana


The Federal High Court sitting at Asaba on Tuesday, 22 May 2018, discharged and acquitted Mrs. Precious Nwaudu a pregnant woman who was charged with unlawful possession of substances suspected to be cannabis sativa also called marijuana.

Despite the defendant admitting her guilt by making a plea of guilty, the counsel to the Defendant Favour Enuji ESQ in a spirited move, urged the court not to convict the Defendant as the prosecution has failed to establish the facts of the case. Barrister Enuji particularly drew the attention of the court to its earlier rejection of the particles of the alleged cannabis sativa sought to be tendered by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA prosecution team and from which a purported laboratory analysis report emanated.

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Barrister Enuji finally argued that a plea of guilt is not enough to ground a conviction for a strict liability offence such as the one wherewith the Defendant.

In her judgment, trial judge, Justice Toyin Adegoke agreed with the submissions of Favour Enuji ESQ counsel to the Defendant that a plea of guilt is not in itself sufficient to base a conviction. His Lordship held that the rejection of the materials allegedly tested as cannabis sativa leaves the laboratory test results and all other forensic evidence tendered by the prosecution hanging on nothing and as a result must crash. The court had earlier commended the industry of Barrister Enuji who undertook the case of the defendant probono following the lack of legal representation for the indigent defendant.

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In a chat after the court session, Barrister Enuji hailed the decision of the Court as a landmark judgment which has expounded Nigeria’s criminal jurisprudence to the effect that whatever plea a criminal defendant may choose, the burden of proof remains on the prosecution, which must be discharged beyond reasonable doubt.


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