24 years for trafficking

A NIGERIAN businessman who flew to Hongkong with more than 11 kilograms of heroin mixture concealed in his knapsacks was yesterday sentenced to 24 years' jail by the High Court.

A jury found Edward Wilson Ubamaka, 28, guilty of trafficking in a dangerous drug.

Passing sentence, Deputy Judge Chan said he suspected Ubamaka was not just a courier, as had been suggested by his defence counsel.

But he said even if Ubamaka was purely a courier, it did not mean his role in the offence could be considered minor.

The court heard evidence called by Crown counsel Mr Alan Lucas that Ubamaka arrived at Kai Tak Airport at about 8 am on December 11, 1991.

He presented three knapsacks for customs inspection and drugs were found inside vacuum flasks, sheets, shirts, packets of tea leaves and stamp pads.

A total of 11.197 kilograms of a mixture containing just over 5.5 kg of esters of morphine was found.

Immigration records showed Ubamaka had made five round trips between London, Kathmandu and Hongkong using two different Nigerian passports, both in his name, between March and December 1991.

In his defence, Ubamaka said he was engaged in the textile trade in Nigeria and he came to Hongkong on business.

He came across a cousin in Kathmandu who asked him to take the items in which the drugs were found back to Nigeria because his cousin had too much luggage to carry, he said.

Ubamaka said he had no knowledge of the drugs.

After he was convicted, his counsel, Mrs Lily Yew, said the evidence suggested her client was just a courier and not a ringleader.

He was the sole bread winner of a large family and his wife had just given birth to a boy, Mrs Yew said.