By Esseh Ikora
Justice I. Sanni, of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo Friday sentenced two Cameroonians to 18 years imprisonment each for illegally acquiring Nigerian Passports.
Sanni, who ordered that the sentence should run concurrently, however, gave the defendants N500,000 as option of fine in each of the six count charge.
The Judge said he had to be lenient on the two defendants because they pleaded guilty and did not waste the time of the court and were first offenders.
He said that they should serve their sentences in Nigeria and should be deported after completion of their sentences.
Speaking to newsmen after the ruling, the prosecution counsel, Mr. David Babale, said the first defendant, Mr. Ebwe Sumbele Michael-43 had in 2012 acquired Nigerian passport without being detected.
Babale said luck, however, ran out of him when he came for re-issuance in March 2018 with the second defendant, Mr. Ngu Ernest Tiku-35 when they were caught by the vigilant Immigration Officer in Uyo.
“In the case of the first defendant, he started committing this offence since 2012 because he obtained Nigerian Passport since 2012 but was not arrested.
“He went under the guise of being a Nigerian. He went with false documents to indicate that he was a Nigerian and the officer then did not detect him as a non-Nigerian. When he came for re-issue, he came with the second defendant. According to him, the second defendant was working in Dubai but he is Cameroonian,” Babale said.
Babale, who is of the legal department of the Nigeria Immigration Service noted that the first defendant having succeeded in 2012 came to Nigeria with the second defendant to acquire Nigerian Passport but luck ran out of them.
He commended the vigilant immigration officer who detected the foreigners and called on other officers to emulate him.
Also speaking, the defence counsel, Mr Mfon Uyoh, said he was satisfied with the judgment.
According to him, the Judge was lenient with the accused because they pleaded guilty and did not waste the time of the court.
“It was a good judgment in the sense that the judge has to be lenient with the defendants. He did not impose the maximum sentence on them. They were being remorseful, pleaded guilty and did not waste the time of the court,” he said.